Mastercard, Microsoft Partner to Accelerate Digital Commerce

Mastercard will tap new cloud infrastructure to boost its R&D division and help underserved communities.

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Need to Know

  • Mastercard and Microsoft have announced a new partnership to “build pathways to financial security and provide tools for sustainable growth” around the future of digital commerce and financial inclusion.
  • The two will work together to use Microsoft’s Azure infrastructure to power cloud-native research and development activities at Mastercard Labs, the payment company’s R&D division.
  • Mastercard’s deep network of fintech partners will have access to Azure technologies, IoT, AR, and VR to create new commerce capabilities, particularly around devices that can enable digital payments in unique ways.
  • Azure will also serve as the native environment for Mastercard Community Pass, a platform that provides underserved communities with access to essential services such as education and basic healthcare.

Analysis

Mastercard has announced a new partnership with Microsoft that will enable the latter to deliver its Azure cloud technology to enable and develop new technologies surrounding digital commerce and financial inclusion.

Microsoft is landing a massive new partner in Mastercard, one of the largest payments companies in the world. Exact details surrounding the partnership have yet to be announced, but it seems the main point of focus will be further developing Mastercard’s R&D division Mastercard Labs’ mission to “de-risk and commercialize emerging technologies and platforms for digital commerce.” By implementing Azure capabilities, Mastercard Labs’ will be able to continue its cloud-native research.

Mastercard Labs offers a service program that fosters innovation both within Mastercard and other companies that partner inside the company’s network. LaunchPad, a product design workshop, can bring ideas from idea to prototype in five days for customers; IdeaSpark is a two-day program that develops and implements products using Mastercards’ innovation platforms; and Innovation Express helps capture and nurture the ideas of employees.

Now, with this Microsoft partnership, Mastercard’s fintech partners will gain access to technical cloud expertise and cutting-edge technologies, letting them build and scale solutions inside Mastercard Labs that much quicker.

“This strategic collaboration will strengthen and extend our cloud services and capabilities for clients and fintech partners, sparking innovation and creativity for the ecosystem,” said Ken Moore, executive vice president and head of Mastercard Labs. “It will enable us to explore opportunities focused on new client segments, technologies and trends as we continue to drive financial inclusion and build the future of commerce.”

Mastercard also noted in a release that the partnership will help their network “explore the use of emerging innovations and new commerce capabilities such as devices that enable digital payments in new ways.” Access to Azure will also boost the capabilities of Start Path, Mastercard’s fintech development track that democratizes access to financial services.

Finally, Azure will also serve as the cloud native environment for Mastercard Community Pass, a program that unlocks services for underserved population. For example, Community Pass supports the ID4Africa movement, an initiative that is striving to deliver legal identity documents for all African citizens by 2030.

In terms of other initiatives this new partnership will support, it’s likely that accelerated access to cloud infrastructure will help Mastercard boost its digital identity offerings. In late 2019, the payments company rolled out the first tests of its new digital verification process in Australia, letting identity data sit with the owner via a distributed model that blends information stored on an individual’s mobile device and verified by additional reference points. With enhanced cloud architecture, Mastercard can access Identity data much quicker and boost security for the end-user.

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