The wonders of the mobile-digital age at this point need no introduction – particularly when it comes to enabling an entirely new world of transactions. At the dawn of the digital era, consumers made transactions generally by cash, check or card – and almost always in a store. The world of payments and commerce was not terribly complicated.
Flash-forward 17 years into the digital era, when people shop on computers, on phones and (increasingly less often) in stores. Paper checks are nearly extinct, and consumers can use their phones to pay at payments terminals that are actually up-sized mobile devices.
As quickly and fundamentally as the payments and commerce world has reset, Kiki Del Valle, Mastercard’s SVP of Commerce for Every Device, says we’re just getting started – particularly as news of the internet of things spins into high gear, and the era of machines conducting commerce is underway.
“The biggest thing we are trying to push in MC is consumer choice,” says Del Valle. “We want open, flexible product that meets merchant, issuer and consumer needs. But that means we have to be able to partner with a lot of different types of entities, as we are going through these waves of innovation that we all have to accommodate for. We have to be able to accelerate the pace of issuers, merchants and IoT providers so we can keep them all current with consumer demand.”
Building that foundation for payments enablement — with things like tokenization and its mobile wallet portfolio – are part and parcel to their role as a digital payments network. But the emerging digital era means that it also has to think differently about deploying “the full set of our services like digitization of issuer portfolios, deployment of digital wallets, token services of IoT providers and point-of-sale mobile payments,” notes Del Valle. “We rely on an open ecosystem to drive different entities and to make it easier for them to interact cooperatively.”
Which, Del Valle told PYMNTS, is why her company launched Mastercard Engage, in an attempt to “put it all together under the same umbrella so that the merchants, IoT providers and issuers can get the right information at the right time and the necessary tools at their fingertips.”
The last couple of years have seen the very favorable signs of increased adoption of tokenization, Del Valle told PYMNTS – combined with an increased focus on creating more products and solutions across the organization for a variety of customer needs.
All to the good, she noted, but also a much farther expansion of the direct relationship Mastercard needs to grow and engage beyond their historical interface with issuers.
“We need to find unique ways to communicate this to merchants that don’t have access to our traditional issuing portals,” said Del Valle. “As we have needed to grow the number of companies we are engaging, we developed rules and standards for token service providers. That means we need to think about new ways to communicate with these entities that are certified by use and meeting our standards.”
Mastercard Engage provides that kind of one-stop shop for issuers and IoT providers today, including plans to launch a merchant channel so that as services are needed, the right players can meet and begin actually unlocking the range of Mastercard solutions.
“So, for example, think about entities like Uber and Lyft that are using our Mastercard Send API to pay their drivers whenever they request owed funds in real time,” says Del Valle. “Because we are now offering these additional products and solutions, we have an ability to enable these functions and features for partners, so that merchants can really take advantage of them.”
But to take full advantage, partners in all parts of Mastercard’s network need to have a place to get started — and find the right partners to flip on the right functions and features to meet their needs.
“Beyond providing the basic information about a vendor’s location and contact data, we also assign a partner level to each vendor – whether that is standard, gold or platinum – and we are also able to notify the end user what level of readiness that this vendor provides.”
The goal is to give those customers a clear understanding of what they can hope to integrate with a specific partner, the nature of that vendor’s relationship with Mastercard, how many solutions they now offer and what they have committed to offering in the future. The program is already global today, Del Valle noted, and looking to expand as it adds more issuer, merchant and IoT provider partners and vendors to service them.
“The goal for us is that our partners don’t have to feel like they are not being provided for or being set in the right direction, or that they have to start from scratch to get these abilities working,” said Del Valle. “Mastercard has given you the foundation for coming up with best solutions in a go-to market.”