MasterCard's NFC PayPass for Ultrabooks: Tap Your Palmrest to Pay

Many of us have seen MasterCard's PayPass, which lets you tap your credit card against a sensor to pay at select retail locations. Now, the company is taking the same experience to Ultrabooks, allowing you to tap your credit card against an NFC sensor that sits below the keyboard and sends all your payment information to your favorite online vendor.

At Intel's Developer Forum today, a MasterCard rep demonstrated its NFC support on a Toshiba Satellite U925T by logging into a demo version of etailer Tiger Direct's site, putting a product in the shopping cart, selecting PayPass as the payment method then Tap & Pay as the login method and swiping the card against the notebooks deck. After he swiped the card, the website automatically entered all of the cardholder's information including name and billing/shipping address. So, with one swipe and a few clicks, you can buy something, without filling out a slew of online forms.

Though Intel says future Ultrabooks should come with NFC, as of today, the soon-to-be-released Toshiba Satellite U925t is the only Ultrabooks that comes with NFC and supports Tap & Bay. However, the good news is that you don't need NFC to take advantage of MasterCard's upcoming PayPass Wallet Services which promises to keep all your shipping and credit card information in one digital storage bank.

MasterCard  Product Manager Sumon Miah told us that PayPass Wallet Services, which is rolling out in the next few months, will allow card issuers (your bank) and other partners (your notebook OEM) to create their own branded wallets which allow you to store either all of your credit cards or just the ones they issued to you. When you visit a participating etailer's site and choose PayPass as your payment method, you'll be able to verify your identity either with a password or by NFC swiping. 

So the NFC swipe merely saves you from entering your PayPass password. If your computer doesn't have NFC or you don't have your credit card in front of you, you can just type that password.

Perhaps the best thing about PayPass Wallet Services is not the convenience, but the security. According to Miah, the vendor never gets your actual credit card number, just a verification from MasterCard. So, if you use PayPass to buy something and the vendor's computer systems are later hacked, the hackers won't find your credit card number.

Avram Piltch
Online Editorial Director
The official Geeks Geek, as his weekly column is titled, Avram Piltch has guided the editorial and production of since 2007. With his technical knowledge and passion for testing, Avram programmed several of LAPTOP's real-world benchmarks, including the LAPTOP Battery Test. He holds a master's degree in English from NYU.