MasterCard, Visa make strides to improve NFC adoption

Visa and MasterCard are making strides to improve NFC options.

Near field communication (NFC) technology has been generating headlines around the payment industry for some time. Its inclusion in the hardware of Apple devices has been rumored, but nothing has come of it yet. The technology could be taking a big step into the mainstream in 2014 thanks to an announcement from two different card providers.

According to a recent article from PYMNTS, Visa and MasterCard announced a cloud-based solution which is geared toward delivering and supporting mobile contactless transactions. The system will leverage Host Card Emulation (HCE), which is an open architecture that enables payments and other NFC services.

The November upgrade to the most popular mobile operating platform, Android OS KitKat 4.4, supports HCE, and through the use of some third party hardware it is possible to add the technology to Apple iOS powered devices. As of quarter four in 2013, 78 percent of smartphones sold ran on the Android operating system, which creates a large market for NFC technology.

"This is not an 'either/or;' this is an 'and,'" James Anderson, MasterCard group head and senior vice president for mobile and emerging payments, told the news source. "This is something we're adding, and it's something that creates an opportunity."

MasterCard has been working with Capital One to test or explore different ways to commercially use the technology to improve overall operations.

NFC could be playing a major role in the future of the payments industry and these moves by Visa and MasterCard help show that. Merchants will need to pay attention to these changes to remain ahead of the competition.