Using MasterCard's MoneySend application, iPhone and iPad users will be able to send or receive money using their phone or tablet, the card company said on Thursday.
MoneySend only works in the U.S. and the service can be used for everyday payments to the babysitter or a child at college who is low on funds, or to let someone else pay back a loan, according to MasterCard.
The application is free and available for download from the iPhone App Store.
For MoneySend to work, it has to be linked to a MasterCard debit, credit, or prepaid account from a bank that offers the service. If the iPhone owner's bank does not issue a compatible card, then they can sign up for a prepaid MoneySend card and account with Bancorp Bank. In either case, they will need a U.S. mobile phone number.
Sending money costs US$0.29 for transfers up to $50, $0.99 for transfers up to $200, and $2.95 over that. There is no charge for receiving money. The maximum amount of money a user can send with MoneySend is $2,500 per month, according to an MasterCard FAQ.
The account is identified by the mobile phone number, and is protected by a passcode. No account information is stored on the iPad or iPhone, according to MasterCard.
The card companies are slowly stepping up their mobile efforts in developed countries. For example, MasterCard also offers an iPhone application called ATM Hunter, which lets users find the nearest ATM using GPS. Soon, competing card company Visa expects to begin trials of a contactless payments system for Apple's iPhone, using a special case for the phone developed by DeviceFidelity.
There are also other companies that see opportunities in the mobile money space, including Square. Started by Twitter creator Jack Dorsey, Square lets anyone accept payments using a card reader that hooks into headphone jack of an iPhone, an iPod touch or a number of Android-based smartphones.