• United States
Senior Editor

MasterCard teams to ease small cash transactions

Dec 06, 20052 mins
Small and Medium BusinessUnified Communications

MasterCard is looking to make paying for the little things a whole lot easier.

The credit card giant Tuesday said it would team with micropayment firm Peppercoin to offer small payments processing services to businesses. Small payments services make it more viable for merchants to offer and customers to use credit cards for purchase of $5 or less. Specifically Peppercoin signed a letter of intent with MasterCard and the two firms will work towards an alliance to accelerate card usage for small payments at the online and physical point of sale.

Research released by Ipsos-Insight and Peppercoin said that an estimated 45 million U.S. consumers are willing to use credit or debit cards for purchases of $5 or less, up 23% from September 2004. That kind of growth has attracted lots attention as Visa and American Express also offer micropayment services.

According to a recent Nilson Report, banks have issued 3.5 million debit and credit cards that can be used to pay for purchases at retailers such as McDonald’s, 7-Eleven and CVS drugstores.  Typically, these “contactless” purchases are fast and require no signature. Bank debit cards are also increasingly being used for smaller payments, experts say.

The key for merchants is to keep processing fees down.  In the Peppercoin/Mastercard scenario merchants have options in how transaction processing occurs and merchants who enroll in the Peppercoin micro and small payments program will receive reduced Peppercoin fees for MasterCard transactions.

Some other interesting tidbits from the survey of 1,115 Americans ages 12 and older, showed the most common cash transactions.  When asked where they made purchases at least six or more times over the past 30 days, respondents indicated:  

  • Forty-three percent purchased coffee or a beverage.

  • Thirty-five percent purchased items at a fast-food restaurant/corporate cafeteria.

  • Approximately 5% (or roughly 10 million Americans) purchased fast-food/corporate cafeteria items more than 20 times over a 30 day period.

  • Only 7% of respondents who would not use credit or debit cards for small payments.

  • Approximately 10% of those purchasing items for less than $2 online in the past year did so from six or more Web sites, up 43 % from September 2004 and 150% from October 2003.