Master­card Labs in Pune, an in­no­va­tion en­gine

To­bias Puehse, vice pres­i­dent, In­no­va­tion Man­age­ment, Dig­i­tal Pay­ments and Labs, Asia Pa­cific, Master­card, out­lines the com­pany’s dig­i­tal plans:

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Global pay­ments and tech­nol­ogy com­pany Master­card has set up its 9th - and sec­ond in Asia-Pa­cific - Master­card Labs in Pune with the aim of work­ing with fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions and mer­chant part­ners and the fin­tech com­mu­nity to iden­tify and ex­per­i­ment with fu­ture tech­nolo­gies. The hub will fo­cus on a few key ar­eas in­clud­ing dig­i­tal pay­ments, data so­lu­tions, fi­nan­cial in­clu­sion, al­ter­na­tive pay­ments and safety and se­cu­rity. “The Lab will sup­port and work with star­tups de­vel­op­ing next gen­er­a­tion, break­through com­merce so­lu­tions through Master­card’s Start Path pro­gram,” says To­bias Puehse, vice pres­i­dent, In­no­va­tion Man­age­ment, Dig­i­tal Pay­ments and Labs, Asia Pa­cific, Master­card.

He says Master­card Labs sup­ports nu­mer­ous in­no­va­tion pro­grams in­ter­nally and through its ‘Take Ini­tia­tive’, a two­day global em­ployee hackathon, em­ploy­ees take a step away from the day-to-day to help solve chal­lenges that are mean­ing­ful to them, the team and the re­gion. “An­other pro­gram called ‘Ide­abox’ pro­vides a unique op­por­tu­nity for em­ploy­ees to get their break­through ideas off the ground within Master­card,” he adds.

Puehse men­tions that Labs in Pune aims to be a key in­no­va­tion en­gine for the coun­try and foster col­lab­o­ra­tion and co-cre­ation with academia, fin­tech ex­perts, tech­nol­o­gists and de­vel­op­ers based in In­dia. “It will iden­tify and ex­per­i­ment with fu­ture tech­nolo­gies and drive new con­cepts and in­no­va­tions through in­cu­ba­tion, proof of con­cept, pi­lot and com­mer­cial­iza­tion, in or­der to de­liver ad­di­tional value to con­sumers and busi­nesses of In­dia,” says he.

ACCELERTING IN­NO­VA­TION

World over, Master­card’s clients lever­age the Labs’ proven in­no­va­tion tools, method­olo­gies and pro­cesses along­side the Ad­vi­sors Con­sul­tancy ex­pe­ri­ence to aug­ment and ac­cel­er­ate their in­no­va­tion agenda. Many of them use Master­card Labs as a ser­vice and the com­pany’s LaaS (Labs as a Ser­vice) team works col­lab­o­ra­tively with each client to de­sign fully cus­tom­ized in­no­va­tion pro­grams in­clud­ing and not limited to AI, tai­lored to meet spe­cific busi­ness chal­lenges, needs and im­prove their cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ences.

Master­card also has a state-of-theart tech­nol­ogy cen­ter in Vado­dara, which Puehse says, is a part of the com­pany’s vi­sion to build a less-cash so­ci­ety. This cen­ter sup­ports de­vel­op­ing tech­nolo­gies and so­lu­tions that help Master­card drive adop­tion and ac­cep­tance of dig­i­tal pay­ments.

Puehse is of the view that In­dia is em­brac­ing the 4th In­dus­trial Revo­lu­tion. “As high­lighted in the Niti Aayog’s 2022 plan, the key pil­lars of this revo­lu­tion will be In­dus­try 4.0, Au­to­ma­tion and Ro­bot­ics, AI & IoT and Blockchain. Trust is cen­tral in the dig­i­tal world and we are de­ploy­ing AI and ML tools to en­hance cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence and risk man­age­ment prac­tices. For in­stance, Safety Net is a tool that con­stantly sur­veys the Master­card net­work for any signs of large scale at­tacks and is de­signed to in­ter­vene and re­solve any such at­tacks au­to­mat­i­cally,” he ex­plains.

PLANS FOR AI, ML

To en­hance com­pet­i­tive­ness, Master­card has made two ma­jor ac­qui­si­tions Brigh­te­rion in Cal­i­for­nia, US, which helps use AI to score good and not-so­good trans­ac­tions, and NuData in Canada that iden­ti­fies a per­son by the way he or she holds and in­ter­acts with the phone. Puehse says AI Ex­press is one ex­am­ple of how the Brigh­te­rion ca­pa­bil­i­ties are help­ing Master­card play an ac­tive role in ac­cel­er­at­ing the adop­tion of AI and ML by open­ing up its proven plat­form to the wider in­dus­try. The ca­pa­bil­ity is built into the multi-lay­ered se­cu­rity strat­egy of the Master­card net­work to act within mil­lisec­onds to de­tect and man­age fraud.

FOR A DIG­I­TAL ECON­OMY

Puehse in­sists that Master­card re­mains com­mit­ted to ac­cel­er­ate In­dia’s growth to­wards be­ing a dig­i­tal econ­omy. The com­pany has in­vested ap­prox­i­mately $1 bil­lion be­tween 2014 and 2019 in the coun­try and since 2013, it has grown its In­dia work­force from 218 to 2,500+, which is to­day 15% of the global Master­card work­force, and the largest out­side the United States.

Fi­nally, what could be the role of Master­card when the world is mov­ing to­wards dig­i­tal pay­ments?

Re­sponds Puehse: “We work with gov­ern­ments, cen­tral banks and fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions in dif­fer­ent ge­ogra­phies pro­vid­ing our ecosys­tem for dig­i­tal pay­ments which not only en­ables coun­try spe­cific na­tion­al­ized pay­ment schemes but also con­nect these coun­try spe­cific schemes to the global pay­ments ecosys­tem. We are also work­ing very closely with fin­tech star­tups un­der our ‘Start Path’ global pro­gram. This com­ple­ments our ef­forts to en­sure that we are at the fore­front of these in­no­va­tions.”

To­bias Puehse em­pha­sizes that Master­card Labs in Pune will iden­tify and ex­per­i­ment with fu­ture tech­nolo­gies and drive new con­cepts and in­no­va­tions

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