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MasterCard takes pole position in mobile pay race

MasterCard’s PayPass tap-to-pay network places the company in an important position for the future of mobile payments in the United States, according to the company’s chief emerging payments officer.

Ed McLaughlin, head of emerging payments for the world’s second-largest payments network, expressed confidence in the fact MasterCard is the only credit card company to play a role in the two major burgeoning alliances that include the Google Wallet and ISIS, CNet.com reports.

In the next few weeks, Google will launch its mobile-payment service that will allow select Sprint Nextel customers who own the Nexus S smartphone to make transactions with a wave of their phone from PayPass locations.

ISIS, a joint venture between AT&T, Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile USA, will begin its trial next year.

MasterCard’s mobile payments initiative differs from its rival Visa’s plans to launch its own digital wallet. Instead, MasterCard has decided to license out its PayPass technology to as many vendors and partners as possible.

Google Wallet has a prepaid payment option that allows customers to link accounts to another credit card. Google Wallet uses MasterCard’s payment network, allowing MasterCard to get a cut of any transaction made with that prepaid account, CNet.com reports.

The emergence of mobile payments has been on the horizon for many years but McLaughlin said it is finally coming around with so many players involved in a meaningful way.

"It has become less theoretical and more tangible," McLaughlin said, CNet.com reports. "Google putting it out there in a public way has helped catalyze a lot of initiatives in the country."