MasterCard, Visa to use Android feature HCE for NFC payments

MasterCard and Visa today announced they will leverage Host Card Emulation (HCE), a new feature in the Android mobile operating system, for NFC payment transactions.

HCE allows any NFC application on an Android device to emulate a smart card.

NFC technology within smartphones facilitates secure contactless payments.

Since 2012, MasterCard has seen 180 percent increase in the number of merchants that are now contactless-enabled.

HCE is supported in the Android OS KitKat 4.4, which began shipping in November 2013 and continues to roll out on smart devices.

MasterCard plans to publish its secure remote payment specifications during the first half of 2014.


Visa said it is offering clients new options to securely deploy mobile payment programs, including for the first time an option to host Visa payWave-enabled accounts in a secure, virtual cloud. The move expands Visa’s support for mobile payments globally and will give financial institutions greater choice in offering consumers secure ways to pay with smartphones.

HCE enables payments and other NFC services – including loyalty programs, building access and transit passes – to be delivered without the use of a secure element.

MasterCard worked with Capital One on the initial pilot and with Banco Sabadell on a European pilot. The pilots have helped inform MasterCard’s direction, and the learnings will pave the way for additional deployments planned in 2014 with other financial institutions around the world.

IDC says 78 percent of smartphones sold in Q4 2013 run on the Android operating system, and Android is enjoying strong gains in markets outside the U.S., including in China and Latin America. Android also recently became the fastest platform to reach one billion users worldwide.

“The Android community continues to build innovative ways to improve the lives of mobile users. We introduced HCE to make it easier for developers to create NFC applications like mobile payments, loyalty programs, transit passes, and other custom services,” said Benjamin Poiesz, Google Android Product Manager.

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