Interview: MasterCard's Vision for a Cashless, Cardless, World
Last year, we broke down the major players in mobile payments. Notably absent was MasterCard – mainly because the financial services company seemed content playing a behind-the-scenes role, providing the architecture on which the flashier Google Wallet was built.
But a lot has changed since then. The company laid out its vision for the future of commerce with the launch of the MasterPass wallet at February's Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
MasterCard's emerging payments lead in the U.S, Ken Moy, will be speaking at Ad Age Digital next week about mobile wallets, NFC, smart cards, and other ways emerging technologies are actively changing the way people shop and pay for goods. In anticipation of his talk, we asked Mr. Moy for the lowdown on how MasterCard plans to usher in a cashless, even card-less, world.
Ad Age: Can you give me a rundown of MasterCard's 'cashless' efforts, since launching with Google Wallet in 2011?
Mr. Moy: We have a lot going on in mobile and ecommerce and wallets; they are a main focus and have been for several years. We continue to work with Google, that's not going away, and we are also very actively involved with ISIS (an industry joint venture) and we're with them working to expand.
We're also leveraging mobile devices for acceptance – so mobile point of sales systems. We're focused on implementing a program that encourages those solution providers to build out mobile point-of-sale, from Square to iZettle.
Another is international. We're working with telcos around the world to extend NFC on handsets, not just in the US, but the UK, Turkey and other countries as well. It's really taken on a level of speed and urgency. It picking up and driving in other markets. It's clear the value proposition of mobile NFC really works for the consumers.
There's also focus on developing economies, on the next billion consumers, and using our technologies to partner with governments and telcos to build out payment infrastructure for economies where it's still lacking.
Lastly, MasterPass, our wallet effort launched in Barcelona at the MWC, but we feel it's all going to converge into one unified, omni-channel offering. Masterpass extends the idea of 'a world beyond cash' to be inclusive of 'a world beyond plastic.'
Ad Age: It seems like every year people herald the end of cash and sometimes even the credit card – but it hasn't happened yet. What are the biggest obstacles to bringing this vision to fruition? Is it the merchants that are reluctant? The consumers?
Mr. Moy: We're at an interesting time, people are still figuring out what this omni-channel solution is. I did a Google search looking for the different wallets that are out there and you get about 800 different results with different definitions of what a that wallet is.
We did research recently on the topic and there's certainly excitement about the new services, but people are also confused about the services and concerned about customer services issues, so there's a lot of education to be done and demystified.
Ad Age: Is there one recent or emerging technology that you think holds the most potential to power the future of commerce? Like NFC?
Mr. Moy: The exciting thing is that we see smart devices getting smarter and cheap and it's transforming consumer behaviors and lifestyles. They take them everywhere and the shop differently with them, so commerce changes. Any smart device can be a commerce device. It puts a lot of opportunity for merchants and financial services to work together here.
The solution set, like with MasterPass, has to be flexible to not rely on one specific technology, if it's going to be successful.