MasterCard and Visa Agree to a Common Contactless Communications Protocol

MasterCard and Visa Agree to a Common Contactless Communications Protocol

PURCHASE, NEW YORK and SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA, March 7, 2005–MasterCard International and Visa International today announced that they have reached an agreement to share a common communications protocol for radio frequency-based contactless payments at the point of sale based on the MasterCard® PayPass™ ISO/IEC 14443 Implementation Specification and associated testing requirements. This will ensure that cards and terminals supporting MasterCard and Visa contactless payment applications conform to the same communications protocol and undergo equivalent testing, thus ensuring interoperability across brands.

Ensuring interoperability via the use of a common protocol for conducting contactless payments will benefit merchants, consumers and terminal vendors by providing a consistent experience at check-out across both payment brands. 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, chief e-business officer and executive vice president, Advanced Payments, MasterCard International. “Merchants and terminal vendors 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.”

“Continuing on leveraging 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, like MasterCard PayPass and Visa Contactless Programs, allow cardholders to speed through checkout by paying with a simple tap or a wave, eliminating the need for customers to hand over their payment card to a merchant, manually swipe it through a reader, or fumble for cash and coins. Contactless payments significantly increase convenience for consumers and are ideal for quick payment environments where speed is essential, such as quick serve 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 MasterCard International

MasterCard International is a leading global payments solutions company that provides a broad variety of innovative services in support of our global members’ credit, deposit access, electronic cash, business-to-business and related payment programs. MasterCard International manages a family of well-known, widely accepted payment cards brands including MasterCard®, Maestro® and Cirrus® and serves financial institutions, consumers and businesses in over 210 countries and territories. The MasterCard award-winning Priceless® advertising campaign is now seen in 98 countries and in 46 languages, giving the MasterCard brand a truly global reach and scope. For more information go to

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