Mastercard Looks Back at 2017 in Payments

January 3, 2018         By: Steven Anderson

2017 was quite a year when it comes to mobile payments, and there’s every indication that 2018 will also be described as quite a year once we stand on the threshold of 2019. Mastercard, not surprisingly, had a hand in many of those developments, as recent word from Mastercard’s chief product officer Michael Miebach detailed.

Miebach’s biggest point was the sheer pace of technological development over the year. Not only did Mastercard buy up a few companies and agree to work independently with several others, but there were other technological breakthroughs involved that drove Mastercard to new levels of operations.

With the overall goal of making a payments infrastructure that’s both easy to use and powerful enough to handle every function a user might want, it’s no surprise that impressive new technologies must get involved. The increasing use of applications programming interfaces (APIs) is a major new step forward here.

Moreover, Mastercard—among many other businesses—started really realizing that there were more ways to pay than just business-to-consumer (B2C). The explosive growth of Venmo proved that peer-to-peer (P2P) was big business, and business-to-business (B2B) also showed that businesses wanted the same level of ease of use that they had in paying for lunch.

Additionally, Mastercard got to work in straddling one of the greatest conceptual walls there is: how to make a system safe, but not so safe that it’s useless. A room with no doors is the easiest room to protect, but what’s the point of having a room no one can use? Biometrics are naturally playing a big role here, and Mastercard made major strides on this front with NuData’s behavioral biometrics systems and Brighterion’s SmartAgent AI software.

Mastercard had one big year in 2017. It will likely have another to follow. We’ve seen a lot of changes just in the last 12 months, from Starbucks’ mobile order ahead system that was too good for its own good to an increasing use of AI and biometrics in security and payment facilitation. We’ve seen cryptocurrency explode, and dozens of hacks. We’ve seen customers get tired of loyalty programs and Pizza Hut allow people to order pizza from their sneakers.

My mind is already boggled, and 2018 likely won’t slow the pace of change any. Mastercard’s developments are just the beginning.