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Mastercard jockeys for mobile payments domination with new API platform

In news announced today, Mastercard is introducing a proprietary API program that enables its partners to experiment with new technologies and interfaces, raising the innovation stakes for similar brands across the financial industry.

The Mastercard Developers program allows the brand’s partners to access APIs across security, data and payments categories alongside supportive tools, such as software development kits and sample code for top coding languages. Mastercard’s open API rollout arrives on the heels of its competitor Visa’s open developer program launch this past summer, signaling that financial marketers must continue collaborating with other companies and making mobile-first technologies readily available in order to keep up with the rapidly evolving space.

“As a leading payments tech company, we’re thinking about things differently and designing our products differently,” said Lisa Bongiovi, vice president of product management, digital payments and labs at Mastercard. “Based on a mandate from our CEO, all services going forward will be built with an API-first approach.”

Next-generation commerce
The Mastercard Developers program includes a new and experimental API category that allows the brand’s partners to test out new interfaces and technologies, showcasing its dedication to early innovation in the mobile payments space.

The program was designed to provide a streamlined experience alongside developer-friendly documentation with APIs backed by a slew of developer tools, SDKs and sample code spanning six top coding languages.

Mastercard’s partners can now access more than 25 different APIs, including flagship services such as mobile payments platform Masterpass as well as Mastercard Digital Enablement Services. The latter offers services centering on tokenization of credit card numbers for added security.

Developers can experiment with the various APIs to create, scale and enable payments across new platforms and test out new technologies, such as augmented reality, mobile commerce solutions and Internet of Things-related programs.

“We’re offering our partners [the ability] to test that technology and innovate on new interfaces,” Ms. Bongiovi said. “We believe that by working with our partners, we can really speed up the innovation in the industry.”

Mastercard is also rolling out an API for financial inclusion, called Mastercard Aid Network, which was developed to lend more transparency to nonprofits and humanitarian organizations deploying aid.

Services at scale
Mastercard foresees a variety of developers taking advantage of the new API network.

“We see it as developers of all types,” Ms. Bongiovi said. “What we’ve done with this experience is we’ve addressed all of their needs.”

Partners who choose to leverage the API program can use a slew of APIs spanning payment, data services and security categories.

The payment category offers access to Masterpass, Mastercard Digital Enablement Services and Mastercard Send.

Mastercard Send, the company’s new personal payments platform, now enables United States sellers on Stripe marketplaces to receive faster and more secure payouts, thereby expanding the financial service’s influence in the business-to-business sector (see story).

In the data services category, Mastercard’s partners can take advantage of retail location insights, market insights and media measurement.

Available security technologies include fraud scoring for merchants, while experimental technologies include access to Qkr! with Masterpass and bot commerce.

Opening up API interfaces to partners and third-party developers is becoming a new trend in the financial sector.

Visa’s new developer platform, which offers third-party companies the ability to sift through hundreds of commerce-related APIs, also indicates the brand’s desire to one-up its competitors in the mobile payments space by creating a massive network of partnerships (see story).

However, Mastercard is likely to continue its status as a digital leader in innovation with the rollout of the Mastercard Developers program.

“The platform allows us to distribute our services at a larger scale,” Ms. Bongiovi said. “It also makes our services much easier to bundle and package.”