ANSI - American National Standards Institute
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MasterCard and Visa Agree to a Common Contactless Communications Standard

New York, Mar 14, 2005

Credit giants MasterCard International and Visa International have agreed to share a common communications protocol and associated testing requirements for radio frequency-based contactless payments at the point of sale. Contactless payment programs from the two companies allow cardholders to tap or wave integrated circuit cards, or, “proximity cards,” in front of a reader to speed through a checkout or transaction process. The protocol is based on the international standard ISO/IEC 14443, developed by the Joint Technical Committee (JTC1) of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC).

The agreement between MasterCard and Visa – both American National Standards Institute members – means that proximity cards and terminals supporting their contactless payment applications will conform to the same standard and undergo equivalent testing, resulting in fewer implementation costs for vendors and faster time to market for financial institutions and merchants.

"Agreeing to one common standard benefits all in the value chain," said Art Kranzley, executive vice president, Advanced Payments Solutions, MasterCard International. "Merchants and terminal vendors now 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."

"Building on 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 payment applications like these fall under smart card technologies that use radio frequency (RF) chips to automatically identify objects or people. The Smart Card Alliance generally defines radio frequency identification (RFID) tag technology as that which is used in applications that identify or track objects, and contactless smart card technology as that which is used in applications that identify people or store financial or personal information.

Proximity card payments are convenient for consumers because they eliminate the need for cash and are ideal for quick payment environments such as fast food restaurants, gas stations, supermarkets and movie theaters. Proximity cards also lend themselves to new opportunities for accepting card-based payments in unattended sales environments, such as vending machines and tollways.

 Homeland Defense and Security Standardization Collaborative