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MasterCard PayPass tries to simplify mobile payments, take on Google Wallet

MasterCard is hedging its bets. Though it remains a supporter and participant of Google Wallet, at CTIA 2012 here in New Orleans, it unveiled a new Android app and Web payment system that looks a lot like Google Wallet and PayPal, but may be better than both. Though I haven’t spent nearly enough time with Google Wallet (it wasn’t in my city) to proclaim this as undeniably superior, MasterCard’s PayPass may see a higher adoption rate.

Like Google Wallet, you can set up the PayPass system to integrate any of your credit cards (Visa, Amex, and Discover also accepted), and use your phone to pay for things via NFC. But the other component of this is an online checkout system, similar to Google Checkout or PayPal, which, if incorporated into online retailer sites, will allow you to easily purchase items online, even on your phone.

We got a live demo of the new app last night, and it looks pretty good so far. The real barrier here will be adoption. Currently, a few merchants like Barnes & Noble and American Airlines have signed up, but widespread adoption could take a while, and there might always be large holdouts like Amazon and eBay. Still, the system has an open API, so if Google decided, it could add MasterCard’s PayPass wallet into its own Wallet (or so I’m told), so there is a chance this could work out. MasterCard has also wooed a few banks including Citibank and Fifth Third Bank.

What do you think? Does MasterCard have a shot at owning online payments and your digital wallet? Luckily, by supporting everyone, we’re guessing it will be just fine no matter who comes out on top.