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Mastercard has now joined forces with Everything Everywhere, the biggest mobile operator in the UK, with its 27 million customers. Together, the two will work on developing the kind of mobile payments they reckon customers want. The BBC tells us more.

It's hard to know what'll actually take off. One of the first services, according to Mastercard, will let people pre-pay money into an account - then spend it using handsets that employ NFC (Near-Field Communication) technology.

But that's not all. In the five years the partnership's meant to run for, we should see plenty more, such as:

  • Person-to-person money transfers using a mobile.
  • The ability to make in-store payments (using mobiles, of course!) that take the money directly from a user's bank account.

Interestingly, Mastercard says it'll help small businesses that want to accept payments using the new technology. So far, the costs of installing NFC 'point-of-sale' equipment has put a lot of them off.

Mobile payments could play a major part in the way people handle the money in their bank accounts - but only time will tell which system ends up being the 'next big thing'.

According to Benjamin Ensor, who's research director at Forrester Research, we're looking at the start of "digital-wallet wars".

From Barclays and Visa to Google and Microsoft, we're seeing major companies competing. Today, said Mr Ensor, they're all facing the same problem: what the analysts call 'low-level adoption' (i.e. we're not seeing millions of people rushing to use the latest services and technology).

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