The CPI Card Group is manufacturing the next-generation of mobile payment stickers for Discover Financial Services and MasterCard Worldwide, the Littleton, Colo.-based card producer announced last week. Both stickers use contactless technology from Inside Contactless SA.
CPI Card improved the previous sticker with a better shielding design that protects the contactless chip and antenna from interfering with the mobile phone's signals and metallic materials. The sticker also uses a new, advanced adhesive backing that is more durable.
Discover plans to begin issuing contactless cards and stickers within the next year. "The contactless sticker is a very important first step in allowing consumers and merchants to experience the benefits of mobile-payments technology," Troy Bernard, Discover senior manager of prepaid and emerging payments, tells PaymentSource in a statement.
MasterCard executives were not available for comment.
One of the initial challenges with the previous sticker was ensuring the contactless chip did not interfere with the phone. The sticker also had to adhere to a minimum reading-distance requirement from Discover, MasterCard and Visa Inc. The sticker must be able to interact with a contactless reader from between 1.18 inches and 1.57 inches away.
"Consumers usually put the phone right on top of the reader, so the reading distance is not any more of an issue than the previous sticker," Marisha Barber, CPI Card marketing manager, tells PaymentsSource.
MasterCard requested the improved adhesive so the sticker could survive repeatedly being removed from and put back on phones and other devices. The adhesive still will not remain effective after being peeled off "more than 10 times," Barber says.
Industry research indicates consumers change phones once every two years.
The improved adhesive is a critical part of the sticker because it turns the payment device into a cost-effective product, Barber says. "This is going to last on your phone," she says. "You won't have to replace the sticker every time you get a new phone."
Some in the industry view contactless stickers as a bridge to Near Field Communication-enabled mobile payments. But when that day actually happens remains to be seen. Still, Barber believes CPI Card soon will manufacture contactless chips that will reside inside mobile phones.
In the meantime, the company will continue to improve the sticker if there is consumer demand. One thing the company would like to do is improve the sticker's edges. "They are not really good looking at the moment," Barber says.
The company also is considering other shapes besides the traditional square. A smaller sticker is unlikely because it would not be able to interact with a contactless reader. The current sticker size is 1.89 inches by 1.10 inches.