Merchant Innovation

MasterCard's Next Big Breakthrough Stop: San Fran

MasterCard's Masters of Code series is headed to the Bay to continue on its 12-city tour to discover developers ready to create the most innovative prototypes for the next generation of commerce applications.

The competition is designed to showcase developers, designers and entrepreneurs in friendly competition, where the innovators are tasked with using MasterCard-supplied APIs for those next-gen applications. Not every event has the same theme, and for San Francisco, it’s all about community. The San Fransisco Masters Of Code event — the seventh on the list of cities — comes after being in Mexico. Other stops include: Sydney, Hong Kong, Singapore São Paulo and Tel Aviv. Next month, the competition continues in Montreal, followed by Istanbul, St. Louis, New York City and London.

Les Matthews, Group Head, Emerging Merchants, U.S. Market Development of MasterCard, spoke with PYMNTS about what's next for the Masters of Code competition, including what he expects for the developers in this technology-driven region; how MasterCard is inspiring in the San Fransisco developer community; and details about what applications will be featured at this event tailored around building the best app to improve community.

PYMNTS: Day-by-day, MasterCard seems to become more developer-centric, offering tools and environments to create the next big breakthrough in today’s app and mobile device driven world. One example of this support system is the Masters of Code series that provides developers the opportunity to get noticed for their engineering and creative abilities in a short period of time. Being a judge at the upcoming Masters of Code in San Francisco, what do you anticipate in such a technology-driven region?

LM: Being a judge for Masters of Code in San Francisco is like being a ski judge in Aspen; I expect the best of the best because of proximity to talent. San Francisco and Silicon Valley is where the best developers in the world come to showcase their skills and forge their careers. From Masters of Code, I believe you’ll see iterations of products being commercialized down the road.

PYMNTS: How is MasterCard creating awareness in the San Francisco developer community for this event?

LM: MasterCard has become known for promoting these types of events, not just here in the U.S., but globally, so this event has created substantial word of mouth and is sold out. It really is a small community of developers and when something exciting comes around that genuinely gives people an opportunity to showcase their skills, have fun and compete — it sells itself. Of course, MasterCard is part of that developer community and we’re able talk amongst friends about the event.

PYMNTS: What are some of the specific application features you will be looking for during the review process?

LM: One of the main requirements is to use one MasterCard API. Then for each event we have a regional challenge, a featured API and a secret API. So we are definitely looking at how developers answer to any of the 3 regional elements to differentiate their apps from the rest. With SF being around Social Good, we are looking at apps that can have a strong impact locally but can also be expanded at a global scale.

PYMNTS: What are some API examples MasterCard will be providing for this event, and is there a specific theme focus?

LM: For this event, the challenge will be to build the best app to improve your community by leveraging MasterCard’s Simplify Commerce with social networks and their global reach. Examples could include fundraising, event management, or donation of goods. The featured API for San Francisco will be Simplify Commerce, which is an innovative MasterCard platform that allows businesses to accept payments online.

PYMNTS: When a developer creates a new technology during the Masters of Code competition, who ultimately owns the rights to the technology?

LM: Participants own the IP of their creations (full details). All third parties' IP (including MasterCard) should be properly licensed, etc.  Since we provide them access to our APIs at the event, they are covered with us. Our goal is to facilitate innovation and if we see something we really like MasterCard could decide to invest, but Freedom of Innovation is a core tenant of events like Masters of Code.


Les Matthews

Group Head, Emerging Merchants, U.S. Market Development of MasterCard

Les Matthews is group head, Emerging Merchants, U.S. Market Development at MasterCard. He leads a team responsible for managing U.S.-based digital and eCommerce merchants and business development for disruptive technology companies.

For two years prior to this role, he led a team responsible for sales of digital and emerging payments solutions to participants in the financial services ecosystem, helping to drive strategic initiatives such as MasterPass and Apple Pay.

Mr. Matthews joined MasterCard in 2009 on the Commercial Product team, responsible for global small business debit, developing new products and working closely with financial institutions to optimize their portfolios. In 2010, he accepted a role on the HSBC account team responsible for managing their debit and commercial business.

Prior to MasterCard, Mr. Matthews spent several years at Washington Mutual, Bank of America and American Express in roles of increasing responsibility, primarily focused on growing and optimizing the consumer and commercial card business.

Mr. Matthews holds an MBA in Marketing/MIS and a BA in Psychology from Clark Atlanta University in Georgia.



Banks, corporates and even regulators now recognize the imperative to modernize — not just digitize —the infrastructures and workflows that move money and data between businesses domestically and cross-border.

Together with Visa, PYMNTS invites you to a month-long series of livestreamed programs on these issues as they reshape B2B payments. Masters of modernization share insights and answer questions during a mix of intimate fireside chats and vibrant virtual roundtables.

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