MasterCard and Visa users may soon flip the switch on KitKat NFC payments

With a consumer reception that could be described as lukewarm at best, mobile payments haven't exactly been a raging success. Despite Google's efforts, Wallet failed to take off, while Isis also continues to struggle, despite support from major US carriers. Now, MasterCard and Visa are readying yet another potential solution, this time tapping the new Host Card Emulation (HCE) support in Android 4.4. The service, which is only supported in NFC-enabled KitKat phones, stores credit card info remotely rather than on an embedded "secure element," expanding compatibility beyond pre-approved apps.

With HCE, when you go to make a payment, your phone will transfer credit card data directly to the NFC terminal, without storing it in your handset. MasterCard and Visa are both working to finalize the specification, following various trials over the last few months. Ideally, a significant number of credit card holders will be able to take advantage of HCE-enabled payments beginning later in 2014, with more details to come in the first half of this year.

(AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)