MasterCard wants consumers to use its cards and payment network to buy goods through their refrigerators and fitness devices, going by announcements made this week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The moves represent the latest steps on wearable payments technology and the so-called “Internet of Things.”
The payment network this week debuted its Groceries by MasterCard app for the Samsung Group’s new Web-connected “Family Hub” refrigerator. Preloaded in the appliance, the app enables consumers to use their MasterCard debit and credit cards and a four-digit PIN to order groceries via online retailer FreshDirect and supermarket chain ShopRite, which operates more than 250 stores in the Northeast. MasterCard expects more grocers to join the program this year. Those merchants handle deliveries to consumers. With each order, the technology learns shoppers’ preferences, leading to personalized product recommendations, MasterCard says. The service also includes a mobile app that that enables multiple family members to add items to the online shopping cart.
“In a world where every device—from the phone to the refrigerator–is connected to the Internet, the ways in which consumers interact and transact with their favorite brands are changing,” says Betty DeVita, chief commercial officer, MasterCard Labs. “We’re developing compelling, safe and seamless commerce experiences for consumers across channels and devices as we continue to eliminate the boundaries between how we shop and how we pay.”
Consumers fulfilling their New Year’s fitness resolutions shouldn’t feel left out of this push. That’s because MasterCard also says it will work with Coin, a financial software company, to put payments technology on fitness trackers, smartwatches and other devices so shoppers can make contactless payments for goods without pulling out wallets or cards. So far, device providers Atlas Wearables, Moov and Omate have signed up to work with MasterCard and Coin.
MasterCard demonstrated payment-enabled wearable technology at November’s Money20/20 conference in Las Vegas—a show at which rival Visa showed off mobile payment features built into a “connected” car. MasterCard in October announced its Commerce for Every Device program, the network’s push to play a bigger role in wearable technologies and the Internet of Things. E-retailing and online marketing heavyweights Google and Amazon.com have made acquisitions and product launches in recent years designed to better enable consumers to order goods from Web-connected household devices and appliances via accounts linked to payment cards, PayPal accounts or other networks. And last year, Target, one of the country’s largest retail chains, displayed coffee makers and other Web-connected devices that automatically reorder supplies when they run low. A recent report from research firm Gartner Inc. found that U.S. consumers will own some 25 billion Web-connected devices by 2020, up from about 4.9 billion in 2015.
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