Mobile Commerce Daily is now Retail Dive: Mobile Commerce! Click here to learn more!

MasterCard tests NFC payments at movie theaters

MasterCard is running an NFC pilot program at movie theaters in Australia that lets consumers pay for food and drink items via their mobile devices.

The technology is run through an application call QkR that users can download for iPhone or Android devices. Australian movie chain Hoyts is being used for the test program.

“MasterCard is constantly looking for ways to improve the consumer payment experience by making life easier, and initiatives such as QkR have been developed for these reasons,” said Matt Barr, head of market development and innovation at MasterCard Australia, Purchase, NY.

“Hoyts decided to partner with MasterCard for this pilot because they recognize the benefits of innovative payment applications in enhancing the overall cinema experience for moviegoers,” he said.

Quick snacks
Consumers who visit premier Hoyts-operated cinemas in Australia can pay for items while in their seats by scanning a mobile bar code.

Each seat in the theater has a mobile bar code placed on the arm rest.

To pay for an item, users open the app on their phones and scan the QR code. They can then select food and drink items to buy and have it sent to them at their seats.

Moviegoers can also enter a six-digit code located above the mobile bar code to activate the app or tap a NFC-enabled smartphone over the arm rest to pay.

Users who pay via the QkR app must link their MasterCard accounts by entering their information into the app.

The new NFC initiative is part of MasterCard Lab’s work that is focusing on ramping up the company’s work with mobile payments.

“Australian consumers are renowned for their love of innovation technologies, which is why MasterCard selected this market for the pilot,” Mr. Barr said.

Payment war
With similar mobile wallet initiatives from Google and PayPal, the mobile payment space is expected to heat up in 2012.

However, MasterCard is playing a unique card in mobile payments by bringing mobile bar codes and apps into play.

One of the challenges technologies such as Google Wallet have struggled with is that it is only available on Sprint Nexus S 4G mobile phones, which leaves out a majority of the mobile phone industry.

PayPal’s new mobile point-of-sale solution is also slated to gain traction this year with big box retailers Home Depot and Office Depot rolling it out to stores (see story).

Since the QkR app is available on iPhone and Android devices, the app hits a majority of the smartphone market.

For MasterCard, one of the biggest hurdles will be educating both consumers and companies about the technology, but the initiative is proof that the payment company is placing big bets on mobile payments.

“MasterCard is consistently striving to deliver the next generation in payments,” Mr. Barr said.

“Specifically in this pilot, mobile payments and making life easier by enhancing the in cinema experience,” he said.

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York