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MasterCard sparks mobile payments strategy with investment in Masabi

MasterCard is investing in mobile ticketing platform Masabi to help drive cash and its associated costs of public transportation while making it easier for residents and travelers in major cities worldwide to get around.

Masabi announced today that it has secured $12 million in growth funding, with investment coming from public transport operator Keolis, Lepe Partners, MasterCard and existing investor MMC Ventures. Masabi recently saw its JustRide mobile ticketing platform launch citywide in New Orleans, joining other deployments in Boston, Las Vegas, Athens and New York.

“As a technology company in the global payments industry, it is MasterCard’s mission to make payments as simple and secure as possible – whether the transaction happens on a plastic card, via a mobile device or on the Web,” said Hany Fam, president of enterprise partnerships at MasterCard.

“As the physical and digital worlds converge, mobile ticketing plays a key role in facilitating a safe and seamless experience for commuters – in turn making public transit easier to use,” he said.

Mobile ticketing
MasterCard’s investment in Masabi builds on a strategic partnership focused on integrating the one-touch MasterPass digital wallet platform into JustRide.

Public transportation is an important area of focus for mobile payments providers such as MasterCard as this can be where consumers first get a taste of the convenience offered by mobile payments, opening the door to using their phones for other purchases.

Keolis, the largest private sector transport group in France, is working to include Masabi’s mobile ticketing into its integrated digital offering, dedicated to delivering a new passenger experience.

The news is the latest example of how MasterCard is pushing into mobile payments.

Last month, MasterCard partnered with GM, Nymi, Ringly and TrachR to develop a series of connected wearable payment devices beyond the traditional wristband (see story).

MasterCard is also focused on exploring selfies for payments authentication and pushing forward into person-to-person payments.

Corporate partners
For Masabi, its latest investment round marks the first time corporate partners are represented.

Masabi’s JustRide platform is a cloud-based, end-to-end mobile ticketing and fare collection system. It comprises apps for ticket purchase, display and inspection, together with back-end infrastructure for secure payments, ticket management, ticket inspection, customer service, reporting and real-time analytics.

Masabi works with more than 22 transport operators and agencies around the world, including: Virgin Trains, Abellio, Thames Clippers, New Orleans RTA, Boston’s MBTA, Las Vegas, Transport for Athens and New York’s MTA.

“Twenty sixteen is set to be the year mobile ticketing goes mainstream,” said Edward Howson, co-founder of Masabi. “A large number of major cities and transport operators are set to go live with mobile ticketing systems which make every day travel easier for their riders.

“Also, the explosion in smart phone penetration worldwide is opening up new markets,” he said.

Final Take
Chantal Tode is senior editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York