Mastercard Puts New Life into Mobile Payments with Augmented Reality Tools

January 14, 2020         By: Steven Anderson

Free miles, cash back…these are familiar tools to get users interested that have been around for years. Yet Mastercard recently tipped us off about one big new step forward on the rewards front, a complete augmented reality (AR) experience designed to show off just what the Mastercard can do.

The new AR tool is designed to give users a “360-degree virtual environment” where users can get a first-hand look at just what their card can do via a series of “interactive portals.” Users need to scan their Mastercard to start a session, then use their phone to look around them and see the portals available.

The portals break off into three key segments: Peace of Mind, Everyday Value, and Experiences. Once a user taps the portal desired, the display shows off just how the card relates to these various facets of life with the card. Peace of Mind, for example, is represented by showing off a spa experience, while Everyday Value makes your home look like a showpiece.

Tapping on various set pieces in the AR field displayed—like a set of golf clubs—provides more information about the benefits connected to those set pieces. The golf clubs provide immediate access to the Priceless Golf benefits roster in the form of a pop-up screen, where users can learn about Priceless Golf and what it means for their everyday run out on the links.

The app is expected to be available starting in the second quarter of 2020, though it will be going to US World Elite cardholders on iPhones first. A whitelabel version for issuing partners will follow.

That’s a familiar strategy, but one that never fails to set my teeth on edge. Granted, it’s not a bad idea to stage a gradual rollout so you can spot problems in an app and fix them before going into wider release, but maybe it’s not such a good idea to make the guinea pigs your high-end cardholders. Maybe it’s also not exactly great optics to tell the lower-end cardholders about this super-cool new tool coming out but only people who have at least $80,000 in income per year for singles get to use it first.

Still, once this app goes wide, it should prove an exciting piece of technology for everybody. It sure beats reading some pamphlet to find out about your cardholder benefits, or worse yet, scrolling through pages of text online.