Mobile technology builder C-Sam has created a version of its mobile app development platform that's preconfigured with MasterPass specifications for financial institutions and processors to more easily build custom versions of MasterCard's digital wallet.

The new C-Sam offering is based on its Mobile Transaction Platform, a suite of software development technology that provides a foundation for building mobile applications. It's designed to provide an easier path to creating mobile wallets at a time when an increasing number of companies are pursuing wallet initiatives, but still struggle to lure consumer adoption — particularly in developed economies, such as the North America and Europe.

"We believe that this solution will trigger a greater use of mobile wallet technology in the future," says C-Sam Vice President Holger Kunkat, in an interview that followed the Dec. 3 release of the new technology. "The banks and financial institutions will have a good starting point to build a wallet."

MasterPass is a digital wallet that supports mobile payments at the point of sale and online without having to type in a card number for repeat payments. Consumers store MasterPass and other branded credit, debit and prepaid card information, and complete payments by using the "buy with MasterPass" button on merchants’ checkout pages.

Wallets built using the C-Sam platform can support certain value-added features at the time of checkout, said Vibhav Prasad, senior vice president and group head for MasterPass at MasterCard, in an email.

"For example, card account balances can be displayed so a consumer has peace of mind they have sufficient funds to make a purchase," Prasad says. "In parallel, MasterPass is diligently working to enable richer functionality to support all wallet partners at the time of checkout," like offer code redemptions.

The C-Sam/MasterPass technology is available in all MasterPass-enabled markets. It enables financial institutions and processors to build their own wallets and offer what the companies contend is a seamless checkout experience for consumers.

The digital wallet technology is pre-integrated with MasterPass’s application programing interfaces and is based on C-Sam’s mobile transaction platform. The integration is designed to increase customization and integrate with existing banking and commerce systems — enabling financial institutions and processors to retain control over the user experience and data.

The financial institutions can develop new digital wallets, or incorporate MasterPass with their existing payment and mobile systems, Kunkat says.

"The user interface can be customized by adding or changing a logo," he says. "Or, depending on [Know Your Customer] rules, the registration process can also be customized for the institution."

C-Sam developed the first version of the telecom-led Isis mobile wallet, before it was redesigned by another vendor ahead of its nationwide launch. C-Sam and Isis continue to have an ongoing partnership, Kunkat says, adding Isis is currently using C-Sam's mobile transaction platform on the server side to provide consumers with mobile transaction capabilities. 

Meanwhile, MasterCard supported Isis, which could present challenges in approaching merchants, says Richard Crone, a payments consultant.

"Issuers have viewed MasterCard’s early support of competing third-party intermediaries such as Isis and Google Wallet as undermining their core relationships, and [the C-Sam/MasterPass] release is an olive branch to demonstrate their support for bank-branded and bank-controlled approaches," Crone says.

In an email, Kunkat said "ISIS provides an NFC-enabled mobile wallet solution and offers banks [the opportunity] to use their wallet for NFC-based solutions and provide NFC-enabled payment methods. The MasterPass API solution is accepted at MasterPass-enabled merchants only. We do not see that the solutions compete with each other in the market."

In an email, MasterCard spokesman Brian Gendron said "MasterCard is convinced that it takes a partnership approach to unlock the full benefits of mobile payments, and have made investments and partnered with leading telcos, technology providers, issuers, governments, handset manufacturers (OEMs) and retailers around the world to bring the benefits of electronic payments to consumers."

MasterCard has been gradually expanding MasterPass’ international reach, and also recently partnered with Web.com, a small business online service provider that will incorporate MasterPass — a move that will expand the digital wallet’s merchant base.

"Partnerships are central to the growth of MasterPass. Inking deals with companies like C-Sam increases the value of the MasterPass solution and holds the potential to significantly expand its reach," says Jordan McKee, an analyst at Yankee Group, adding the API model allows financial institutions to go to market quickly without getting bogged down in development. "This is undoubtedly an attractive option for those that lack the internal resources and expertise to build their own mobile solution."

MasterCard has also partnered with C-Sam to build mobile payments in Japan. In Japan, C-Sam’s platform is integrated with MasterCard’s PayPass contactless payment system to enable merchants to offer payments and value added transactions.

MasterPass will still have to work diligently to sign on more merchants, McKee says.

"While counting large merchants like J. Crew and Bass Pro Shops on its roster is a promising sign, there is much work to be done. Most merchants MasterPass has partnered with are smaller and would not appeal to the average consumer," he says.

C-Sam has also worked with Dai Nippon Printing and HyperSoft to develop "Salon de Wallet," a mobile wallet for beauty salons in Japan. That wallet combines DNP’s technology, which supports NFC payments, and works with C-Sam’s mobile transaction platform. C-Sam's clients also include Coles Supermarkets in Australia and eftpos, an Australian debit card company.

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