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MasterCard partners with Russian MNO for mobile virtual payment cards

A partnership between MasterCard and Russia's MegaFon will enable the subscribers of the mobile network operator to link their mobile phone account to Apple Pay or Samsung Pay by creating a virtual MasterCard card and tokenizing it via the Mastercard platform. As a result, MegaFon's customers will be able to pay for their purchases with just a tap of their smartphone, according to a press release.

After subscribers activate this service on their personal account page on MegaFon's website, it is immediately available for use. The only restriction is that the maximum amount that may be debited from an account totals 100,000 rubles (US$1,777) per month.

"We hope to encourage most users of Apple and Samsung devices in our network to subscribe to this service," Yan Kukhalsky, MegaFon's director of new businesses and partnerships, said in the release. "This will considerably increase the penetration of cashless payment services in Russia. This unique project will offer new opportunities to our subscribers in Russia and will serve as a precedent in global practice. I believe it will not only make new payment technologies more accessible but will also open up new avenues for telecommunications companies in the sphere of financial services."

Another project launched jointly with MasterCard enables MegaFon's subscribers to create a virtual MasterCard bank card in one click. This can be done via the MegaFon.Bank app developed by MegaLabs. After the card is linked to the Apple Pay, Android Pay or Samsung Pay service, it can be used to pay for purchases both online and offline. Customers will receive a 20 percent cashback for every third purchase. Payments are also made using the MasterCard tokenization technology.

MegaFon's customers can top up the card by simply topping up their mobile phone; in addition, they can manage their account using remote services. Each user may create up to 10 virtual cards linked to one mobile phone account. The user can then give the cards to his or her family members and monitor their expenses via his or her account.

MegaFon unveiled a MasterCard bank card linked to a mobile phone account in August 2016. The cards are issued by Round Bank. They are available in any outlet of the mobile network operator. By the end of 2017, over 1.2 million MegaFon cards were issued. MegaFon cards are used primarily for paying for telecommunications services (33 percent) and shopping in supermarkets (25 percent); in some regions, the top categories of expenses also include financial services.