Mastercard has unveiled a number of new payment technologies at its ‘MEA Innovation Showcase’ in its regional headquarters in Dubai as it sought to demonstrate the active role it is playing in shaping the future of payments in the region.
A graduation from Mastercard’s Innovation Showcase launched in 2014, the first of its kind center in the region provides a glimpse into the latest innovations that Mastercard is bringing to life in Middle East, Africa and beyond.
The latest release follows the establishment of the Financial Inclusion Labs in Nairobi, forming a part of Mastercard’s journey to deliver cutting-edge payment innovations in the region, and displays both pilot and commercial projects conceived at Mastercard Labs around the world – covering robotics, artificial intelligence (AI), contactless payments technology, wearables, biometric authentications, unattended retail, financial inclusion solutions and more
Raghu Malhotra, President, Middle East and Africa, Mastercard, said: “We are excited to unveil the enhancements introduced at our ‘MEA Innovation Showcase’ in Dubai, to provide audiences in the region with a glimpse into how Mastercard is shaping the future of payments. In addition to demonstrating Mastercard’s commitment towards championing revolutions in fintech and digital payments, the Innovation Showcase will offer a platform to stakeholders – financial institutions, end consumers, technologists, merchants, card issuers, entrepreneurs as well as the student community – to track the progress of this industry and collaborate in achieving the shared vision of financial inclusion in the region.”
A total of six themes and 25 demo products that will be updated regularly are among the key highlights of the Mastercard ‘MEA Innovation Showcase’. Amongst the notable technologies added to the center is Masterpass QR – a payment solution that enables merchants to leapfrog POS (Point of Sale) terminals and traditional card readers in favor of a cost-effective QR code solution for secure and convenient payments. The solution is being rolled out in 28 markets across Africa and Middle East (MEA). The showcase also demonstrates key use cases of Masterpass, Mastercard’s contactless digital wallet that allows customers to safely store all their payment cards and bank information in one place and shop on the go.
Another key addition to the showcase is on new commerce platforms including Mastercard’s innovation in robotics, AI and unattended retail. These include the conceptualization of digital payments within chatbots, messaging apps that use natural language interfaces to easily communicate with consumers on platforms they are already using every day; humanoid robot, Pepper, extending the robot’s ability to integrate customer service, information and sales into a seamless user experience; and Qkr! with Masterpass, a mobile payments platform that enables consumers to order and pay for food at locations such as cinemas, restaurants, stadiums and schools from their smart devices.
Solutions showcased in the space of financial inclusion include 2Kuze, a mobile platform pioneered in Middle East and Africa in partnership with Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, to connect smallholder farmers with customers directly and facilitate swift and safe transactions, and Mastercard Aid Network, an award-winning end-to-end technology solution for humanitarian aid distribution that works even in the absence of telecommunications infrastructure.
Prakriti Singh, Vice President, Innovation Management, Mastercard Labs, Middle East and Africa, added, “Our objective is to help advance the application of technology and innovation in the region and to drive co-creation with our stakeholders. Additionally, the spark of ideas and concepts that will emerge from the collaborative dialogue with visitors will be instrumental in further evolving and enhancing our roster of technology innovations at Mastercard globally.”
The Mastercard ‘MEA Innovation Showcase’ combined with Mastercard’s startup engagement program Start Path and its global R&D expertise, will also provide a platform to drive collaborative dialogues with key stakeholders and fintechs in the region, creating a launchpad to advance payments innovation in Middle East and Africa.