MasterCard Inc. is preparing for the launch of Google Inc.'s mobile wallet within the next few weeks, but executives do not expect to see consumers regularly paying with their phones anytime soon.
Google and its partners in May unveiled a mobile payment system that lets consumers pay for things by tapping their phones at the checkout counter instead of swiping their cards. MasterCard, which demonstrated the technology to journalists on Thursday, said it was preparing to distribute it to consumers very soon.
"The actual launch is a couple of weeks away," chief executive Ajay Banga told American Banker in an interview at the event in New York City.
MasterCard and Google have been working with Citigroup Inc., Sprint Nextel Corp. and First Data Corp. to produce the much-hyped mobile wallet — and to stake a claim in the burgeoning mobile payments industry. They are competing with rival efforts from several large financial, technology and telecom companies, including the Isis joint venture backed by top wireless carriers and Visa Inc.'s mobile payments projects with top U.S. banks.
But all this competition will not yield immediate results, Banga said on Thursday. He and other MasterCard executives were very restrained in their projections for consumer adoption of the pay-by-phone system.
"This is a five-to-ten-year effort, not a one-year effort," Banga said. "There's a lot of hype around it … We all should just hold our horses and have a little bit of patience."
Chris McWilton, president of U.S. markets for MasterCard, said separately that mobile payments products like the Google Wallet still seem unnecessary at best to most Americans. McWilton, who lives outside of New York City, said he can only use his phone to shop at two locations: McDonald's and CVS.
Paying with a phone is still "a little complicated. You have to tap in codes" and wait for the payment to go through, he told American Banker. And "it's not terribly inconvenient to pull out a card today."