MasterCard will enable cardholders at Commonwealth Bank of Australia to load and store payment account credentials on some Samsung handsets, starting with the Galaxy S4.

Commonwealth Bank of Australia is the first bank to collaborate with MasterCard and Samsung to offer the Near Field Communication-based service. It uses MasterCard PayPass within the Commonwealth Bank of Australia mobile app on the embedded secure element of the Samsung smartphone.

"There has been a lot of progress in Australia in terms of contactless payments," says Mung Ki Woo, Group Executive for mobile and industry alliances at MasterCard. "The level of acceptance is very high."

Australia has more than 220,000 payment terminals at 99,000 merchant locations that can accept contactless payments, Woo says. The technology works with more than 1.6 million MasterCard PayPass contactless merchant locations globally.

The integration allows Commonwealth Bank of Australia customers to make contactless payments from the Galaxy S4. The Samsung Galaxy S4 and Galaxy Note 3 are two of the more than 140 devices, including 32 Samsung smartphones and tablets, certified as part of the MasterCard Ready program for mobile payments.

While the Commonwealth Bank of Australia deployment will start with the Samsung Galaxy S4, the number of supported Samsung models will expand, Woo says.

Australia has been a hotbed of mobile payments activity. MasterCard has previously tested mobile payments in Australia at Coles supermarkets.  Visa also sees Australia as an early market for NFC technology, and plans partnerships with local telecoms and handset manufacturers. Visa expects to have its payWave contactless card technology incorporated into a mobile platform in Australia late this year or early next year. Visa did not return a request for comment by deadline.

MasterCard says it will leverage partnerships with other financial institutions and mobile network operators globally in similar rollouts with Samsung over the next year. It has deployments scheduled in Turkey, Russia and the Ukraine in the first quarter of 2014. 

"The contactless penetration in these three markets isn't at the level as Australia, but it is there," Woo says.

Woo would not comment on timing for other markets, though MasterCard's mobile readiness study gives Canada and the U.S. relatively high ratings. The rollout in the U.S., Canada and other countries will rely more on cooperation with mobile carriers, which have greater control over access to the secure element in handsets than carriers in Turkey, Russia and the Ukraine, Woo says.

The NFC program may also include access to ancillary products built off of mobile payments, such as the MasterPass digital wallet, which launched in Australia.  "We would hope the banks would offer MasterPass as part of the program," Woo says.

MasterCard's PayPass toolkit supports Android and Blackberry devices, though Woo did not give a timeframe for similar deployments with other phone manufactures. "We are open to working with all of the players to deploy mobile financial services," Woo says.

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