MasterCard's Journey From B2B to Consumer Apps Led by Their Innovation Labs

MasterCard is a uniquely positioned card network and financial technology firm that is slowly and gradually transforming its business. We understand that it wants to cover the merchant/consumer side of the story better, through premium B2C apps. As you might already know, MasterCard has been working with the banks, FIs and retailers on some of these initiatives. Many people believe this is a move that is synonymous to forward integration. Retailers and merchants hold the key for success in the payment industry; taking this into picture, MasterCard’s innovation lab team is coming up with the novel array of apps which help consumers to simplify the payment experience. As payment disruption happens, MasterCard wants to remain in the thick of things.

The various B2C apps by MasterCard’s innovation lab team are:

1. ShopThis!: ShopThis! with MasterPass is designed to let readers discover and purchase items from their favorite titles’ advertising and editorial pages. ShopThis! is one-click ordering solution for mobile which helps consumers buy what they see. WIRED, a Condé Nast brand, is the first publication to offer the ShopThis! with MasterPass technology. This is a contextual commerce initiative.

2. Simplify Commerce - It is a new product that makes it easy to accept e-commerce and mobile commerce payments, regardless of payment brand, in a matter of minutes.

3. Qkr: Qkr is a free food ordering app used in stadiums to deliver the food to your seat. This app is supported by entering the details manually or scanning the QR code on the tickets. The app is being tested in Canada and around the world. The app is convenient for spectators as well as food vendors and has helped them to enhance their sales. The main appeal for vendors is that if fans can order from their seats, they tend to order more.

MasterCard is also conducting a series of hackathons across the globe to find creative solutions to problems via developers. The winners of the series are enabled/allowed to develop their innovative solution on MC platform.

Hong Kong MasterCard Hackathon Winners: The winning team—consisting Vincent Kwok, Tommy Lau, Patience Lee, David Tang and Karen Wan—created a new app for children using the MasterCard API. The team decided to extend the conveniences of a credit card to children. Their winning app for children functions as an authorized credit card.

Brazil MasterCard Hackathon Winners: The winning team consists of Christian Carrizo, Daniel Scocco, Pedro Scocco, Daniel Q. Miranda and Anderson Pereira. They came up with an online system for buying and selling of MasterCard establishments receivables integrated to simplify commerce.

Through these initiatives, MasterCard recognizes the opportunity for the company to work with technology innovators and has been focusing its efforts on collaborating with key innovators in local markets across the globe.

From the perspective of existing card networks, I think it’s better to have developers come up with disruptive ideas on top of their existing card rails than to let them come up with competing rails itself (think blockchain). For example: mobile money networks with cash-in and cash-out (like m-pesa) or blockchain-based models with direct debit from bank accounts. Is that the reason why banks and networks are doing hackathons?