MasterCard and Visa Agree to a Common Contactless Communications Protocol

MasterCard and Visa Agree to a Common Contactless Communications Protocol

Purchase, NY and San Francisco, CA, March 14, 2005–MasterCard International and Visa International today announced that they have reached an agreement to share a common communications protocol and associated testing requirements for radio frequency-based contactless payments at the point of sale. This protocol is based on the MasterCard® PayPass™ ISO/IEC 14443 Implementation Specification. Contactless payments, like MasterCard PayPass and Visa Contactless programs, allow cardholders to speed through checkout by paying with a simple tap or wave, eliminating the need for customers to hand over their payment card to a merchant or fumble for cash and coins.

The agreement means that cards and terminals supporting MasterCard and Visa contactless payment applications will conform to the same communications protocol and undergo equivalent testing.

The use of a common protocol for conducting contactless payments will enable vendors to streamline product development and testing, leading to reduced implementation costs and faster time to market for financial institutions and merchants. With a common protocol in place, merchants will also have the assurance that a single point of sale terminal may support multiple payment brands and will require less time for terminal programming and testing.

“Agreeing to one common standard benefits all in the value chain,” said Art Kranzley, executive vice president, Advanced Payments Solutions, MasterCard International. “Merchants and terminal vendors now can invest and deploy contactless devices with confidence, knowing they will only have to develop and support one communications specification, making the manufacturing process easier and less costly.”

“Building on the work of EMV, this common protocol is just the first step towards the development of contactless payment systems,” said Gaylon Howe, executive vice president, Global Product Platforms, Visa International. “Supporting a single common protocol will further accelerate the migration towards electronic payments, and deliver more payment choices to consumers.”

Contactless payments significantly increase convenience for consumers and are ideal for quick payment environments where speed is essential, such as quick service restaurants, gas stations, drug stores, supermarkets and movie theaters. It also opens up new opportunities for accepting card-based payments in unattended sales environments, such as vending machines and tollways.

The common protocol specification is based on international standards (ISO 14443) and has already been trialed and market-proven by MasterCard.

About Visa

Visa is the world’s leading payment brand generating US$3 trillion in annual card sales volume. Visa has unsurpassed acceptance in more than 150 countries. The Visa organization plays a pivotal role in developing innovative payment products and technologies to benefit its 21,000 member financial institutions and their cardholders. Visa is a leader in Internet based payments and is pioneering the creation of u-commerce, or universal commerce–the ability to conduct commerce anywhere, anytime, and any way. For more information, visit