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A peek into Mastercard's ambitious plan for India

By Nikhat Hetavkar
Last updated on: February 15, 2019 16:24 IST
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Mastercard is keen on being known not as a payments player but a technology company.

Technology company Mastercard, known mainly as a card network, said it was looking beyond the payments space for growth in India.

The company was focusing on identity authentication as well as distribution and technology partnerships in the country, working with merchants, companies and the government, it said.

“People sometimes think of Mastercard as just payments, but we do a lot of work towards digital identity.

 

"We are one of the top Aadhaar service providers here in India. So we help governments verify your identity,” said Ed McLaughlin, president, Operations and Technology, Mastercard, in an interview with Business Standard.

Mastercard is working with government-owned India Post Payments Bank (IPPB) as its exclusive authentication service agency.

It facilitated the opening of 19 million accounts and 975,000 transactions for the payments bank between January 2017 and December 2018.

It also partnered with fintech company Syntizen to develop Aadhaar-based authentication solutions.

The firm helps check attendance in government schools for mid-day meals by connecting Syntizen to the government’s biometrics database, said Mastercard.

It also helped Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation save Rs 50 crore in wages by providing a geotagging-enabled employee monitoring tool.

A digital portal provided by Mastercard and Syntizen to Jawaharlal Nehru Technology University helped the varsity identify and blacklist more than 900 fake faculties and de-affiliate 203 fake colleges.

“Very early on, we have recognised that working with governments for building strong identity of citizens helps everything work better,” said McLaughlin, adding that Mastercard believes that authentication forms a big part of payments.

The company said India is a premium market and it has built various India-specific solutions. Mastercard recently entered into a technology and distribution partnership for ‘Samosa POS’, a calculator-based point-of-sales (POS) terminal.

While the company has been pushing the newer forms of POS terminals such as mobile, contactless etc., it believes that both traditional and new POS terminals will grow for the country.

India currently has five million terminals, of which over one million are contactless-enabled and another over one million Bharat QR-enabled.

It also developed e-Rythu, a digital agricultural marketplace, in association with the government of Andhra Pradesh with a goal of reaching one million horticulture and agriculture farmers and over 300 farmer producer organisations (FPOs) in the state.

Apart from providing specific solutions to a range of companies, Mastercard provides services through application programming interfaces (APIs).

“Innovators all around the globe from largest companies to big financial institutions to local merchants can access the network through our APIs,” said McLaughlin, adding that the APIs enable anyone who wants to build application to tap into Mastercard.

The company said it works with local merchants to help them sell better and create a sustainable commerce ecosystem.

Mastercard is keen on being known not as a payments player but a technology company.

However, the company’s identity work, as well as other technology and distribution partnerships, while lucrative on their own, seem to be carefully positioned towards strengthening its mammoth payments ecosystem.

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Nikhat Hetavkar in Mumbai
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