Intelligence of Things

Mastercard: Solving Smart Cities “Point A To Point B Problem”

Mastercard Here Map Vehicle

“How do we get people and things from point A to point B in way that makes the experience frictionless,”  is how Hany Fam, Mastercard executive vice president of Enterprise Partnerships, started the conversation with Karen Webster about Mastercard’s newly announced partnership with digital location platform HERE Technologies.
For Mastercard, Fam said, answering that question involves the seamless integration of payments and commerce into those increasingly digital journeys.

For HERE, answering that question, Chief Operating Officer Angel Mendez, said involves giving people and businesses the digital tools to move efficiently to and from physical spaces through digital mapping.

Which is why, Fam noted, the partnership between the two firms is a natural fit. “Location technology and digital payments are at the heart of how people and businesses access services in the physical world,” Mendez noted. “If you think about the people, vehicles, and various assets that are connected to each other in every form and fashion, I think both firms envision a world where location intelligence and digital payments are crucial.”

A “Non-Abstract” Problem

In the age of digital commerce, now made possible through a variety of connected endpoints — including autonomous automobiles driving through smart cities — the lines between physical and the digital are becoming a single journey. Those smart cities are, and will continued to be, filled with cars that are certainly connected, possibly autonomous, and populated by both people and businesses using an ever-expanding lineup of connected devices. Those cities, Fam and Mendez noted, are under construction in hundreds of locations all over the world — as both Mastercard and HERE know firsthand, since they’ve both been part of that construction process.

Mendez noted that it was actually through working together on those projects all over the world that the two firms discovered the number of synergies between their efforts, as well as a shared focus on solving real problems that people and businesses encounter daily.

“Cities have a lot of issues and challenges to address,”Mendez noted, “But there are also a lot of opportunities to enable cities to become more productive as well.”

Parking is one of those frictions. It’s also one that Fam and Mendez said is the most universal problem in urban areas — as well as a natural use case for integrating digital payments and mapping. At peak traffic times, 40 percent of drivers are circling the blocks looking for a place to park. That, both noted, creates a bad experience for everyone involved.

Turning a headache into a better experience, Fam said, is integrating parking, payments and mapping — and making that part of a seamless driver experience. Making it more efficient for the driver to find the best space for their destination, and giving them a way to reserve the space with an authenticated payment, he said, is a win for everyone. The driver wins by snagging a spot, the city (and other drivers) win by reducing traffic associated with drivers cruising the streets looking for a place to park — and parking garages win by maximizing their opportunities to monetize their inventory of parking spots.

There are also a number of examples on the business-to-business side, as well.

Fam said that the additional integration with SAP helps businesses track the location of their shipments with more precision.

“’Where’s my stuff,’” is probably the most fundamental question in business,” Fam said, adding that with the SAP integration, Mastercard and HERE offers a series of capabilities that allow goods to tracked from a forklift in the warehouse, to the shipper, to the front door of a business.

The Promise Of A Mobility Network

Consumers don’t lack options in the digital age, Fam and Mendez noted, but a glut of information often leads to a dearth of clarity — particularly when one is new to a city. Where to go, how to get there, what types of services to use — these are perhaps transparent to locals, but far less so to visitors.

But the goal, through the collaboration between Mastercard and HERE, Fam said, is to build a mobility network that can function as more of a hub that is both location- and payments-enabled — giving consumers, or businesses, a single touchpoint to review all options, offers and inventory.  The cornerstone of that network is an interactive map that aids in navigating a physical journey from Point A to Point B with the various commerce interactions that take place (or could)  during the trip.

“These hubs gives us a chance to solve a consumer-end problem — finding and paying for what they need — as well a city-side problem in making it easier for businesses to get the benefit of those new business opportunities,” Fam explained.

Humans are changing the way they move themselves physically in urban centers — with an increasing variety of flexible means — and commerce is, Mendez noted, essentially following those consumers and becoming literally mobile. Meanwhile, he noted, cities all over the world are changing: they are becoming increasingly populated, increasingly full of millennials and are increasingly being challenged to address the issues that stem from that — congestion issues, traffic issues, pedestrian issues, provision of healthcare issues, provision of services issues.  The opportunity for Mastercard and HERE, as they create these new ecosystems, is to find solutions across a variety of verticals that make cities smarter and safer for the residents and the enterprises that serve them, Mendez emphasized.

“That’s where it gets exciting,” Fam noted.

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