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MasterCard mobile payments — more than just selfie-pay

Kellsy Panno is a financialtechnology analyst with S&P Global Market Intelligence. Any opinionsexpressed in this piece are those of the author and do not necessarilyrepresent the views of S&P Global Market Intelligence.

At Money20/20Europe, taking place this week in Copenhagen, hundreds of mobile payments andfintech-focused companies have amassed, eager to show off what 2016 has instore for their industry.

ForMasterCard Europe, that means introducing new mobile payment capabilities thatgo beyond its selfie-pay function. Most of the new features demonstrated were useful,if incremental. Selfie-pay now requires users to blink, a clever trick to rootout potential fraudsters using a picture to trick the technology intoauthenticating someone other than the owner of the actual face. MasterCardditched voice recognition after it became clear that the voice recognitionsoftware could be fooled by recordings.

Thetheme of MasterCard's strategy in 2016 is integration. They are integratingpayments into everything. Literally. "We're taking the tokenizationcapability to make anything a payment device," said demonstrator SophieCouteaux, who works in digital channel engagement at MasterCard. For instance,the among bevy of wearable devices was a dress with a chip sewn into the sleevematerial near in the wrist, and one in a dangling belt-like embellishment.

Accordingto Couteaux, MasterCard meant for the garment to come off as tongue-in-cheek."We wanted to demonstrate that the future of tech is non-tech," shesaid, referring to the evolution of hiding the technological capabilities ofwearable tech in everyday objects. The dress was designed by fashion designerAdam Selman, who is collaborating with MasterCard on a variety of wearableclothing. "We want for our designs to show that mobile payments should beplayful and pleasing to the user," Couteaux said. "The technology isvery serious, what's inside it. But the experience for the user should befun."

MasterCard doesn't make the hardware. "We're good atpartnerships, not manufacturing anything," said Couteaux, who added thatwhat makes sense for the company's involvement in the process could change.

Anotherfashion minded device shown off was a notification ring from Ringly, a producerof mobile payment-enabled jewelry based in New York. The ring just registersnotifications at present, using a series of subtle, colored flashes on the sideof the ring. MasterCard is powering the authentication and mobile paymentcapability for Ringly's devices, and expects it to go live for consumers inEurope sometime between the fourth quarter of 2016 and the first quarter of2017.

Wearablesare a burgeoning market for mobile payments, SNL Kagan, which is part ofS&P Global Market Intelligence, estimates approximately 28 millionwearables shipped globally in 2015.

Inaddition to clothes and rings, MasterCard is also doubling down on the homeautomation front, striking a partnership with Samsung to provide theauthentication and payment app for every Samsung refrigerator. The"Groceries by MasterCard" app works with two online merchants,ShopRite and FreshDirect to order groceries directly from a touchscreenembedded into the right fridge door. MasterCard expects to add many morevendors to the app once the fridges go live commercially.