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Mastercard unveils chatbot platform for merchants and banks along with wearable payments

Mastercard is taking two big steps forward when it comes to mobile integration thanks to a new chatbot system and a partnership that brings payments to wearable devices, signaling that the credit card company is committed to making multichannel retail more mobile.

The two new initiatives, a chatbot for banks and a partnership with Fit Pay, were announced at the Money 20/20 event in Las Vegas. Both announcements are good indicators of the importance of mobile to Mastercard when it thinks about the modern consumer’s relationship to banking.

“Chatbots or messaging interfaces have captured a lot of consumer attention,” said James Anderson, group executive of platforms and emerging payments at Mastercard. “It’s a huge paradigm shift for mobile commerce and a lot of people are interested in how to leverage this new approach to commerce.”

The big announcements from Mastercard at Money 20/20 were twofold – the chatbot and the Fit Pay partnership.

Citing a data point from Gartner that shows that nearly $2 billion in sales will be processed through digital AI assistants by 2020, Mastercard is releasing a new chatbot program that lets consumers quickly and easily communicate with their banks to make transactions, manage their money and inquire about their balances.

Mobile banking has already taken off in huge numbers, especially younger demographics who are also active on messaging platforms. Mastercard is capitalizing on these two by providing banks with a secure and easy way for consumers to interact with their banks.

Mastercard KAI, as the AI chatbot will be called, will be developed by Mastercard with assistance from a company called Kasisto. KAI will be available for both Mastercard’s bank partners and merchants.

For banks, the chatbot will let consumers see their account balance, review transactional history, set limits on their spending and other basic features of bank applications.

For merchants, consumers can make purchases directly through the chatbot, as well as compare prices and ask basic questions, as is standard for most commerce-driven chatbots.

Mastercard KAI will debut in 2017.

Wearable payments
Secondly, Mastercard is bringing the contactless payments it has implemented for mobile devices through its Masterpass service to all sorts of mobile and IoT devices, including wearables.

Through a partnership with Fit Pay, the credit card company is working to bring its payment systems to as many devices as possible.

Using Mastercard Digital Enablement Services, wearable manufacturers – such as Wearatec, whom Mastercard is working with – can enable consumers to enter their Mastercard information into their wearable devices and couple it with their mobile payment service in order to make simple contactless payments from whatever device they wish.

These transactions will be tokenized exactly the same as Mastercard’s other mobile and contactless payments, giving users the same level of security they enjoy when making payments through other devices.

Mastercard and Wearatec aim to have the new payment option enabled on 2.5 million devices by the 2017 and up to 9 million by 2018.

Mastercard’s mobile payment is also now available through Capital One.

“Payment used to be a thing that you went and did,” Mr. Anderson said. “You went to a store or you went to a website.

“People don’t want go somewhere. They want this stream of commerce they can dip into and dip out.

“The message service is the best place for that. It’s the next big interface for commerce.”