Discover Financial Services

United States

Discover’s Zip contactless application is accepted more than 100,000 merchant locations in the U.S. But until recently, you wouldn't have seen anyone tapping with Zip to pay.

That’s because neither Discover nor any other financial institution on its network had issued Zip cards. Discover believes the customer proposition for contactless cards at the retail point of sale is weak. But Discover finally launched contactless stickers and cards in mid-November 2010, sending them to a selected group of mobile-inclined customers. 

Discover has been gearing up to enable Zip payment from mobile phones, and that’s why it’s made sure its logo and application gets placed alongside Visa, PayPass from MasterCard and AmEx’s ExpressPay on contactless card readers at such U.S. chains as 7-Eleven, McDonald’s and Home Depot. Discover estimates Zip is accepted at more than 90% of the locations that take either PayPass or payWave in the U.S.

The problem is, NFC phones that could carry Zip and any related loyalty applications Discover might want to introduce are scarce. So, leading up to the November 2010 sticker launch, the card scheme had been busy testing Zip on contactless stickers. It held a large trial with more than 700 employees who work at its Chicago-area headquarters and also in Salt Lake City, Utah. 

Discover is looking to support Zip payment directly at subway turnstiles and onboard buses, in addition to the retail point of sale.

Key figures: 

Zip Merchant Locations-U.S.
100,000-plus; contactless cards issued: 500,000 (July 2011)

Card on Issue
 2008  2007 2006
Discover-branded cards 57.1 56.9 57.8
In millions
Source: Nilson Report

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(In millions)

Key NFC Personnel: 
Beth Horowitz, SVP of marketing, product, and strategic merchant relationships
Troy Bernard, director, global head of mobile & EMV products
Sanjay Gosalia, director of mobile
Major NFC and Contactless competitors: 

Visa Inc., MasterCard Worldwide, American Express

Last Updated: 
Nov 2010


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