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MasterCard embraces m-Lifesyle

Payments giant looks to digital future at Cards and Payments Middle East

Lyons: We’re looking to create a world beyond cash.
Lyons: We’re looking to create a world beyond cash.

Credit behemoth MasterCard has its eyes firmly on the emergence of mobile technology and its application to the field of commerce this week at Cards and Payments, Middle East, the finance industry show being held at the Dubai World Trade Centre.

The company is demonstrating, among other offerings, its digital wallet service known as MasterPass. The details of several credit cards are held in a single cloud account, allowing e-consumers to make purchases online by single-sign-on, picking the pre-recorded card details with a single click.

"[We are] looking at the future from a fresh perspective and looking at how consumer trends and technological trends are going to impact commerce," Gary Lyons, chief innovation officer and head of MasterCard Labs told ITP.net. "We have distilled this down to a small number of areas we think are going to be most relevant."

Lyons paid homage to the emerging concept of the Internet of Things, which has led to wildly contradictory figures as to the number of connected devices worldwide by 2020. Predictions range from 25bn devices to 75bn. Lyons himself cites a figure of 60bn.

"We are doing a lot of stuff with mobile and NFC, but we also have a philosophy that every connected device will be a commerce device," he said.

"We're looking to create a world beyond cash. A big part of what I'm trying to do is create a world beyond plastic and to use mobile technology to create fantastic experiences for customers."

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Lyons introduced QuikR, a cloud-based gateway app that allows purchases in a number of industries. When the app is launched, users are given access to a number of commercial transactions, depending on what merchants have signed up in their area. Two such examples demonstrated by Lyons were a Dublin coffee shop and school dinners in Australia.

Each merchant engagement happens within the app. In the coffee shop example, users pick their breakfast items and pay for them via digital credentials. In subsequent transactions the users can duplicate the entire order with a single swipe of their finger, arguably eliminating precious daily moments spent in queues.

The school dinner option goes even further. Parents select the meals their children eat, which allows the enforcement of a healthy diet. They do not give their children cash that can be lost or stolen and schools do not have to buy and maintain point-of-sale systems.

"We've actually launched this in Australia in partnership with the Victoria Ministry for Education," said Lyons. "Within a week of launching in the schools, we're seeing 60 to 70% take-up and the schools are now saying they want to go cashless.

"Nobody wakes up in the morning saying, ‘I can't wait to pay.' They think, ‘I want to get a taxi' or ‘I want to have my breakfast', so we think about how we can use technology to deliver value to the customer before, during and after the transaction."

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