At the Wayfair network of retail brands, more people are using its mobile commerce apps, but only a smaller percentage are on board with using those apps to make purchases.

"Traffic precedes buying in mobile," said Michael O'Hanlon, vice president of business development for Wayfair, whose brands include online stores such as Wayfair.com, AllModern, Birch Lane, DwellStudio, and Joss & Main. "A lot of folks are using mobile devices to discover items that they later purchase on larger devices."

Wayfair's not alone among retailers that want to encourage mobile users to traverse the last mile from app shopping to using devices to pay.

To improve the mobile shopping process, Wayfair is using MasterCard's MasterPass, which stores most payment and shipping information for users regardless of which retailer's site is being visited. This leaves only a buy button for payments at MasterPass retailers, greatly simplifying the process of purchasing from a smartphone's small screen.

O'Hanlon predicts the retail industry as a whole will address the in-app payment adoption lag, making the MasterPass deployment a competitive move. "The lag between using mobile apps to shop more than to pay is a temporary lag, and we want to make the experience equal to that of the desktop, where you can do it anytime you want."

Another motivator for the MasterPass push is security. Following the U.S. migration to EMV chip cards at the point of sale, fraudsters are expected to devote more of their efforts to online and mobile commerce, which do not benefit from EMV security.

"Our vision is, if you are a merchant accepting MasterCard today in the future you should accept MasterPass to get paid," said Matt Barr, group head for emerging payments in the U.S. for MasterCard, adding MasterPass is currently available in 17 countries.

Wayfair is primarily an e-commerce merchant, which puts it among the merchants that will be most affected by the predicted uptick in fraud attempts as chip-cards become more prevalent in the U.S.

"This is how we will secure e-commerce transactions in the future," Barr said. "That is building off of the EMV momentum."

MasterCard added in-app purchasing capabilities to MasterPass last year, with initial deployments of this feature at Starbucks in Australia and Shaw Theaters in Singapore. MasterPass has also expanded geographically, adding China, and is exploring new use cases such as transit payments and restaurant ordering.

Such a diverse range of scenarios should help MasterCard hold its own against the rising tide of mobile "buy" buttons and other in-app purchasing options from the likes of Twitter, Amazon.com and Pinterest.

"Not only are [buy buttons] helpful for consumers who don't have to re-enter all of the details on small screens, but merchants also benefit from increased conversion rates and reduced shopping cart abandonment," said Zilvinas Bareisis, a senior analyst at Celent. "The question is how many of those checkout buttons a merchant is going to adopt and which ones. For any provider, easy integration is a must. It should be easy for merchants to add the new acceptance button to their checkout page."

MasterPass and PayPal are Wayfair's two sources for in-app payments, and the company accepts a wider variety of payment methods on its websites.

"It's hard to predict what will get consumers to use mobile devices," O'Hanlon said. "MasterCard is a great brand that is well known, and MasterPass adds a layer of convenience that shoppers desire."

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