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Card networks team up to make mobile shopping easier

New checkout option offers payment button that eliminates need to key in card details; challenge will be to get consumers to switch from PayPal and Apple Pay

New York

SMARTPHONES have made taking a photo and checking fantasy football scores a breeze, but inputting credit card details on that small screen can still be frustrating enough that many shoppers just give up, costing retailers billions.

Now, the world's biggest card networks - a group that includes Visa Inc., Mastercard Inc., American Express Co. and Discover Financial Services - have joined forces in an effort to make Web purchases easier and reduce what the industry calls "online cart abandonment".

They have developed a checkout option - which competes with established offerings from PayPal and Apple Pay - that lets consumers save their payment details all in one place.

Retailers then offer it as a payment button, thus eliminating the need to type in 16-digit card numbers and expiration dates in tiny boxes.

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The new button is "allowing the consumer to go through a guest checkout experience with very limited friction and no static password to remember," said Jess Turner, Mastercard's executive vice-president of product and innovation for North America.

Many retailers have longed for a checkout experience similar to, which offers one-click shopping for consumers who stored their credentials with the e-commerce giant.

But shoppers are often hesitant to share their financial information with smaller merchants.

Early adopters adding the pay button to their websites include Saks Fifth Avenue, Staples and Papa John's.

The credit card companies have already spent years building out their own buttons, such as Visa Checkout, Masterpass, and AmEx Express Checkout.

But those options struggled with less than 5 per cent of online merchants accepting them, compared to 70 per cent for PayPal, according to a survey by, a payments publication.

They are shuttering them in favour of the new option. But getting people to switch or sign up could be difficult, given PayPal's head start and only a handful of big retailers having signed on so far. The offering uses an arrow symbol to promote the "click to pay" option.

The card companies have begun discussions with banking partners about how to roll out the technology.

For now, the networks don't plan to introduce any incentives or penalties to entice retailers to adopt the new option.

"It's not a mandate or anything that's pushing people there," said TS Anil, global head of payment products and platform for Visa. "There's clearly a pull already in terms of a real-world problem that needs solving." BLOOMBERG

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