What does it take to enable the future of commerce? We’re no longer talking contactless payments on just smartphones and tablets – the focus is now on turning every device into a commerce device, says MasterCard’s Chief Emerging Payments Officer Ed McLaughlin. To coincide with the official launch of Apple Pay on Monday, PYMNTS took a trip down to NYC for the opening of a new MasterCard Technology Hub to get a behind-the-scenes look at some of the most exciting, up-and-coming digital innovations in payments.
WHAT IT TAKES TO ENABLE THE FUTURE OF COMMERCE
Monday, October 20th was an important day for the future of digital commerce. Coincident (but not really all that coincidental) with the official launch of Apple Pay, MasterCard held an event to celebrate the opening of its newest technology hub in Manhattan.
The hub focuses on new payment technologies, “paving the way for a world moving beyond cash.” The office space, located at the lower end of Fifth Ave., spans three floors and 60,000 sq. ft., and features an open floor plan for more than 200 employees.
“We decided a little while ago that we really needed a presence in New York City to attract the right kind of talent for the technology work we we’re doing,” said James Anderson, MasterCard’s Senior Vice President of Emerging Payments, in an on-site interview with PYMNTS. “We’ve always been technology-enabled, and now I think we’re really becoming a technology company.”
The event began with a speech by Ed McLaughlin, Chief Emerging Payments Officer at MasterCard, who mentioned that the company has spent the last 45 years working on delivering secure electronic payments around the globe.
“What you see today is another step in how we’re delivering them,” said McLaughlin. “This is where we’re inventing what’s next.”
McLaughlin then told attendees that they’d not only be seeing what MasterCard technology is, but also what it means. He pointed out that the payments and commerce ecosystem is transitioning to a world where everyone and everything will be connected – not just via smartphones and tablets, but also via gaming systems, home appliances, and cars that are quickly becoming computers on wheels.
“It’s important to remember that we still live in a world where over 85 percent of transactions are in cash and check. There is so much opportunity for us to enable new and better experiences for consumers, to help merchants drive their business forward,” he said.
The technology hub is currently home to four MasterCard product and technology teams: MasterPass, MasterCard’s Digital Enablement System (MDES), the MasterCard OpenAPI team, and part of MasterCard Labs. MDES, said McLaughlin, “is how [MasterCard] can literally turn every device into a commerce device. This is the technology that powers things like Apple Pay.”
SPEAKING OF APPLE PAY
Anderson, when asked about how the Apple Pay rollout was going on day one, stated that it was going very well – they were “seeing the kind of volumes [they] expected.”
He went on to say, “We built a pretty sophisticated system in MDES because what we wanted to do was connect the digital environments, in this case Apple, to a hub and then through [that hub] to the individual issuers,” he said. “We created a whole new infrastructure to support digitization and tokenization – two things you’ll hear a lot more about in the future.”
In a later one-on-one interview with PYMNTS, McLaughlin said that so far, the general Apple Pay response from merchants and consumers has been “incredible.” Merchants, especially those who’ve worked for years on MasterCard contactless, are very excited.
“On the consumer side, one of the things we’ve already seen is that after people use contactless once or twice, they never go back,” said McLaughlin. “We know consumers love the technology and Apple Pay puts it right in their hands.”
McLaughlin said that Apple Pay is able to leverage MasterCard’s existing 2.5 million merchants worldwide that are already enabled to accept MasterCard contactless. That, said McLaughlin, is great for Apple Pay. “In the last month or so I’ve been traveling around the world, trying Apple Pay out, and it works every where contactless is enabled – and incredibly well,” he said.
But, clearly, digital is much bigger than Apple and will become a huge deal in a world where increasingly more and more devices are able to connect to the internet. MasterCard is therefore enabling all different technologies so that when consumers are ready to take advantage of them, they’ll be able to enable those opportunities.
“The credentials we can deliver to the phone, and the security we can wrap around it, is really building the foundation for a future where every device is a commerce device,” said McLaughlin.
THE LIVE DEMOS
The second half of the grand opening of the MasterCard NYC tech hub involved live demos showcasing the MDES tokenization service enabling Apple Pay, the evolution of contactless, biometric authentication, commercial laundry, paying with your smartwatch, MasterCard’s Simplify Commerce and Start Path programs, MasterPass in-app, and the Pay at Table app.
Below are some of the examples of these innovations that will likely play a significant role in molding the future of commerce.
Secure Digital Payments: Cardholders can enable a mobile device for digital payment by “digitizing” a MasterCard card, which involves replacing the original card number with an alternative number (a token).
Contactless Retrospective: MasterCard contactless provides consumers with a fast, safe and smart way to pay for everyday purchases by simple tapping on a specially equipped merchant terminal.
Biometric Authentication: Cardholders will be able to authenticate a payment for an online MasterPass transaction leveraging fingerprint, voice and facial recognition.
Pay At Table: The Pay at Table app enables consumers to check-in at a restaurant and pay the bill directly from their smart device, without the need for the waiter to settle the check.