Mastercard has announced that it is applying the latest technologies to develop the next generation of contactless payments. The new Enhanced Contactless (Ecos) specifications are the first of its kind, and will ensure introduction of new technologies like quantum computing, with the current dynamic digital landscape evolution.

The demand for faster, more convenient, safe and now cleaner payment systems has driven the transition to contactless, a trend that will only continue to grow. In the third quarter of 2020, contactless penetration represented 41% of in-person purchase transactions globally, up 30% from a year prior.

“Contactless is the present and future of in-person payments. 2020 brought with it a rapid acceleration of digitization and reinforced the importance of digital solutions – like contactless – to help meet our everyday needs. As the ecosystem continues to evolve, more connected devices and the Internet of Things are going to create more user demand and an even greater need for constant innovation to build next-generation capability, helping to ensure that technology never outpaces trust,” said Ajay Bhalla, President, Cyber and Intelligence at Mastercard.

Ecos benefits for consumers, merchants and financial include

  • Enhanced Convenience – Over time, the in-store shopping experience will become increasingly contactless. These new specifications will help ensure any device truly can be a payment device, while eliminating the need for a backup swipe or dip of a card.
  • Enhanced Trust – Ecos leverages new, quantum-resistant technology to deliver next-generation algorithms and cryptographic key strengths while keeping the contactless interaction under half a second.
  • Enhanced Privacy – Advanced protection of account information is upheld, meaning that information will only be shared between the card or digital wallet and the checkout terminal. Ecos builds on the increased requirements to support various privacy regulations.

As the new specifications are activated in the near future, consumers and merchants can expect a seamless transition. Digital wallets, mobile payments, contactless cards and point-of-sale terminals will continue to work as they do today. Ecos works behind the scenes and is delivered via a software upgrade, hence eliminating the use of physical gadgets. This investment complements similar investments in tokens, 3-D Secure and Click to Pay, delivering a better consumer and merchant experience.