MasterCard’s Nicolas Dinh: Mobile Payments and Mobile Wallet Success in Canada

October 26, 2015


Back in April, Apple Pay was rumoured to be in talks with six Canadian banks.  The expectation was that the mobile payment solution would expand north by Fall 2015, but Canada is still waiting.

Payment processors like Moneris are gearing up to welcome Apple Pay in Canada by educating merchants and ensuring them that they are ready – Moneris has 85 percent of terminals that are Apple Pay ready.

While we patiently await its launch, we caught up with Nicolas Dinh, Vice President of Mobile Payments at MasterCard Canada, to get his thoughts on mobile payments, the Canadian marketplace.


Q: Give us your opinion on the current status of the mobile payment market in Canada. 

"Contactless acceptance is critical for successful face-to-face mobile payments. Canada is one of the leading markets in the world for contactless acceptance, and today more than one in four MasterCard transactions are tapped.  Merchant investment and commitment to contactless acceptance have paved the way for mobile contactless payments in Canada.

And with increasing consumer penetration of NFC-enabled smartphones and a growing appetite from consumers to engage in mobile payments, I believe we’re at the tipping point where consumers will begin to mass adopt mobile payments."


Q: How have you seen this market evolve?

"We’ve seen the technology behind the digitization and provisioning of digital cards quickly evolve over the past two years.  With the introduction of network-based tokenization technology, the payment networks are taking a greater role in the process of card digitization which will ultimately accelerate consumer adoption of mobile payments."


Q: How do you think Canada is different from other countries in terms of mobile payment acceptance and processing? 

"The payment industry in Canada did a great job at putting contactless cards into the hands of Canadians.  In general, Canadians prefer paying for their everyday purchases using Tap and Go.  Additionally, I would characterize Canadians being tech savvy and smartphone adopters. That said, Canadians are a little bit more cautious than others when it comes to adopting new technologies, especially when it comes to money and finance.

Canada adopted Chip & Pin before many other markets, including the U.S., which is why we’ve achieved an impressive contactless terminalization rate compared to the U.S. as well as to most other markets."


Q: Are mobile payments a strong market for MasterCard?

"Mobile payments are of strategic importance to MasterCard.  With increasing digital connectivity, consumer’ expectations and behaviours are rapidly changing in almost every aspect of their daily lives, particularly when it comes to shopping. The vast majority of consumers are seeking more convenient ways to pay, and mobile payment solutions can help achieve that."


Q: How secure are mobile payments?

"Mobile payments are extremely secure; as secure as any EMV card transaction.  Everything that MasterCard builds is built with an EMV lens and with transaction security in mind.  The cardholder also has peace of mind knowing that zero liability protection is extended to the cardholder for all MasterCard transactions including mobile.  Additionally, with the emergence of biometric technology in smartphones and connected devices, the tradeoff between security and convenience will soon be a non-issue."


Q: Does MasterCard have any extra safeguards in place for mobile transactions?

For mobile payment solutions utilizing MasterCard Digital Enablement Service (MDES) tokenization services, your actual card information is never exposed to the outside world.  This is another layer of security that we think will additionally secure the transaction.


Q: What other solutions do you view as competition to MasterPass?

Most of our competitors have competitive products to MasterPass.  We are witnessing a ‘digital wallet land grab’ unfolding and the product that delivers the most value to consumers will ultimately be the winner.


Q: What are the market differentiators of MasterPass?

What’s unique about MasterPass is that it allows our issuers to offer their own branded wallet directly to their cardholders.  We do have a spectrum of go-to-market options, from a white-label MasterCard-hosted wallet to a fully custom partner-hosted API wallet that can potentially be built for an issuer by our Mobile Transaction Services (MTS) group that issuers can take advantage of.


Q: What do you view as barriers to mobile/contactless payment adoption?

The very first mobile contactless solutions that were launched in Canada had registration and onboarding processes that were unintuitive for the average consumer, likely a result of the immaturity of the technology at the time.  Fast forward three years and the technology has dramatically evolved and improved.  Consumers will eventually be able to very easily and intuitively add their cards to their mobile wallets.


Q: What do you think is next for this market?

Tokenization solutions like MDES will accelerate the proliferation of tokens or digital cards into a myriad of digital wallets in Canada. This will drive wallet providers to innovate and build the best product possible to win over consumers.  Ultimately, consumers will win.

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