Mastercard is Turning Every Phone Into a POS Terminal

The new Cloud Tap on Phone tool allows businesses to turn smartphones into POS devices.

Need to Know

  • Mastercard has partnered with Global Payments, technology company NMI and independent IT services company CEG, among other firms, to launch Tap on Phone.
  • Cloud Tap on Phone turns any Android smartphone or tablet into a POS device, allowing businesses to accept contactless payments.
  • The contactless payment capacity is part of Cloud Point of Sale (POS), which empowers Mastercard’s partners to develop their own cloud-based products.


Mastercard is launching a new tool that it hopes will bring contactless payments to small businesses who have been unable to offer touch-free commerce due to the prohibitive cost of buying a new POS system.

Tap on Phone, a new Cloud-based tool, allows merchants to convert their Android smartphone or tablet into a contactless POS system. The tool is currently being tested with Mastercard partners in more than a dozen markets on six continents. All merchants need in order to use the new tool is to download a mobile payment app, which they can then begin offering to their customers almost immediately. Tap on Phone leverages Mastercard’s Cloud Point of Sale technology, which moves key parts of payments acceptance software from the individual smartphone to the cloud, making it more affordable and scalable for businesses.

“We continue to see an accelerating shift to digital payments, with businesses of all sizes wanting to provide swift, secure, compelling point-of-sale experiences. Cloud POS enables us to make these experiences available to our partners with greater speed and efficiency,” Milan Gauder, global head of Mastercard’s acceptance solutions group, said in a statement. “Our partners are the center of everything we do, and our trusted technology powers innovative experiences, choice, flexibility and certainty, creating the products they need. Mastercard’s Cloud Tap on Phone delivers on our promise of ground-breaking products and innovation.”

In a blog post announcing the launch of Tap on Phone, Mastercard pointed to the increased customer desire for contactless transactions brought on by COVID-19 as a major motivator for introducing the new function. According to the post, “about 130 million micro and small merchants globally do not accept electronic payments,” often due to the cost of new POS systems.

In preliminary research on the pilot launch of Tap on Phone, 70% of users didn’t realize they were using a business’ smartphone to pay for their purchase, suggesting the tool is not only useful for businesses, as it eliminates the need to purchase a costly new device, but comfortable for customers to use as well.

In the same blog post, Mastercard reported that consumer polling in 19 countries earlier this month showed that almost with near half of respondents have swapped out their preferred payment card for one that offers contactless payment.

Mastercard has made a number of launches and pivots during the pandemic, directly in response to shifting customer (and business) needs and demands. In October, for instance, the company announced a partnership with grocery-delivery company Instacart, offering two months of free delivery to new customers who are Mastercard holders. Mastercard also partnered with Stride to offer benefits to gig workers, such as Uber drivers and food couriers, and launched virtual payments cards for business clients, making paperless expense payment more seamless in an increasingly remote business world.