Mastercard has partnered with NMI and Global Payments Inc. to launch its first live Cloud Tap on Phone pilot with Computer Engineering Group (CEG), a Napa, Calif.-based independent IT Services provider. Cloud Tap on Phone is one of Mastercard’s innovative next generation acceptance products, with the software hosted on Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform.

Mastercard has been spearheading the transition to contactless payments for years. The demand for faster, more convenient, safe, and now cleaner ways to pay has driven the transition to contactless, and it’s a one-way street with touch-free experiences expected to be permanent for consumers and businesses even after the pandemic ends.

In the third quarter of 2020, contactless penetration represented 41% of in-person purchase transactions globally, up from 37% in the second quarter and 30% a year ago. It’s precisely the type of tech trends we expect to see as restrictions ease post-Covid.

Driving digital transformation

The Tap on Phone tech is a quintessential example of a valuable digital transformation project that categorically improves experiences. With Tap on Phone, any business – regardless of size – can deliver new and best-in-class contactless consumer experiences using a device they already own: a smartphone.

Tap on Phone democratises point-of-sale technology by turning a smartphone or tablet into an acceptance device, allowing businesses to accept contactless payments minimizing the need to invest in hardware terminals or extra features.

Merchants can offer enhanced and accelerated curbside pick-up or payment on delivery, or provide faster line-skipping checkout in-store, options that are increasingly important as consumers look to touch-free cash alternatives.

NMI is excited to be working at the forefront of this pioneering tech. Jeremy Gumbley, CIO/CSO at NMI, who is leading the project tells us, “Tap on Phone will enable a whole segment of underserved small and micro businesses to securely accept contactless payments, effectively taking the High Street to wherever a seller and customer are with no special hardware or devices other than their mobile phone.”

Nick Starai, Chief Strategy Officer, NMI continues, “Tap on Phone technology perfectly complements the acceleration of contactless payments in the U.S. market. This is a ground-breaking step in creating a world that enables merchants to turn their smartphones into a payment acceptance device without the need of an externally paired physical card reader.”

Introducing Cloud Point of Sale

With the introduction of Cloud Point of Sale (POS), Mastercard is enhancing its Tap on Phone product and empowering ecosystem partners to develop their own cloud-based products with new tools and capabilities.

Cloud POS moves key parts of the acceptance software – the components which enable the processing of contactless transactions and certain security functions – from the individual smartphone to the cloud, offering robust security, reducing development and maintenance costs, and creating scalable distribution channels by allowing immediate connectivity to partners. Cloud POS also becomes a new channel for Mastercard and our partners to bring value added services to customers and businesses.

Mastercard will make its pre-certified Cloud POS software development kits (SDKs) openly available in multiple cloud environments, encouraging solution providers, fintechs, acquirers and processors to innovate and co-create new cloud-first products. Mastercard’s pilot with CEG represents the first live deployment of Mastercard Cloud Tap on Phone anywhere in the world.

Milan Gauder, Global Head of Mastercard’s Acceptance Solutions Group, says, “We continue to see an accelerating shift to digital payments, with businesses of all sizes wanting to provide swift, secure, compelling point-of-sale experiences. Cloud POS enables us to make these experiences available to our partners with greater speed and efficiency.

“Our partners are the center of everything we do, and our trusted technology powers innovative experiences, choice, flexibility and certainty, creating the products they need. Mastercard’s Cloud Tap on Phone delivers on our promise of ground-breaking products and innovation.”

Shona Wright

Shona covers all things editorial at TechSPARK. She publishes news articles, interviews and features about our fantastic tech and digital ecosystem, working with startups and scaleups to spread the word about the cool things they're up to. She also oversees TechSPARK's social media, sharing the latest updates on everything from investment news to green tech meetups and inspirational stories.