Business 28 September 2018

Ed Drake

Mastercard looking into blockchain to improve payment efficiency

Payments giant Mastercard is reported to be exploring a number of new technologies, including blockchain, as the group looks to improve the general efficiency of its payments networks.

Through its Dublin-based research arm, Mastercard Labs, the firm is looking into a range of cutting-edge technologies to improve its business—including blockchain, as the division seeks to build on its achievements since it was launched in 2012, The Irish Times reported.

As well as improving their existing infrastructure, Mastercard Labs also has a remit to explore new products, which could see its parent company ultimately offering a range of new solutions backed by blockchain technology.

Ken Moore, the firm’s head of research and development, told the news outlet that while the division currently operates at a loss, its contribution to the wider Mastercard group was already significant, and would become increasingly relevant over the next few years.

“We build new products for Mastercard globally out of Dublin so we incur the costs for that in Ireland even though the services we provide are global,” Moore explained. “We’re very much seen as a success story…and are increasingly growing in relevance.”

Mastercard Labs has already delivered a number of successful innovations, including the QKR app—an ID verification app already being deployed by several large global brands.

With plans to scale up the 400-strong team by another 175 hires in the near term, Mastercard Labs has indicated it intends to double down on these successes, in exploring new ways blockchain technology can be integrated within their business.

The news comes in the wake of a substantial settlement reached by Mastercard and Visa, following a class action lawsuit over price-fixing, reported to have been settled for an amount in the region of $6.2 billion.

The pivot towards blockchain at the payments giant reflects the ongoing trend of interest from the mainstream financial world in the technology, despite their outward opposition to the sector.

With industry names like Mastercard now going further and faster with their blockchain development, it is expected that more mainstream institutions will follow suit as the benefits of distributed ledger technology become more apparent.

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (SegWit) chain are referenced as BTC coins; tokens on the Bitcoin Cash ABC chain are referenced as BCH, BCH-ABC or BAB coins.

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