Alternative Finances

MasterCard, Syniverse Tackle Spending Challenge For International Travelers

A key frustration shared among consumers traveling abroad is the fear that their transactions will be denied because of overly conservative fraud-prevention measures put in place by their card issuer, or by the merchant where they want to shop. A declined transaction can prove to be a major travel-related headache at best, or a real disruption in financial stability at worst.

MasterCard has taken a step in the direction of addressing these concerns through a new partnership with Syniverse. Announced at the Mobile World Congress 2014 in Barcelona, Spain, the initiative – being piloted by the two companies – will enable MasterCard customers to opt in to a mobile-payment program activated when they enter a predetermined geographic location outside of their normal service area.

James Davlouros, MasterCard’s vice president of global strategic alliances, framed the program during an interview with Veep Jeffrey Green as a way for mobile users to work around existing payment-security measures that can inadvertently impair the spending of international travelers.

(Jump To: 1:43) “What we’re saying here is that we can actually enable consumers to actually have that confidence to use their card wherever they are traveling and, of course, avoid any fraudulent transactions,” Davlouros said.

Davlouros went on to explain that the mobile device acts as a geolocational authenticator of the identity of the spender. (Jump To: 2:50). He gives the example of a spender who travels to Bangkok. When the spender is there, MasterCard authorizes the purchase as the mobile device signifies their location. Spending that takes place abroad without the authentication provided by the mobile device is then flagged as fraudulent.

“You should be in full control, and with full confidence, that your MasterCard will work not only at home but also abroad wherever you are,” he said.

MasterCard also is working with Syniverse to expand the use of geolocational technology. Davlouros cited the areas of travel planning, information alert channels and retail messaging as just a few ways in which the partnership will evolve in the months ahead.

Mobile network operators and brands also can benefit from MasterCard and Syniverse working together. In the future, they could implement targeted offers, which will be made more relevant by knowing the location of a mobile device, for example in close proximity to a retail store, the companies said in their announcement.

To hear more from Davlouros about the new MasterCard/Syniverse partnership and the future of geolocational technology as it relates to payments and global consumer activity, listen to the full podcast below.


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Our data and analytics team has developed a number of creative methodologies and frameworks that measure and benchmark the innovation that’s reshaping the payments and commerce ecosystem. Check out the February 2019 PYMNTS Digital Fraud Tracker Report

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