Mastercard is adding 175 new staff to its Mastercard Labs in Ireland. The unit focuses on payment innovation. The team is exploring a range of blockchain solutions but also deals with augmented reality, chatbots, AI and secure payments.
The hiring drive will significantly increase the headcount as the Dublin office currently has 380 staff. The Labs headquarters are based at the MountainView business park in Leopardstown, no doubt named after the Silicon Valley suburb.
In October last year, Mastercard opened access to the Mastercard blockchain API. Initially, the API is only available to financial institutions and merchants on a selective basis to start testing the technology.
“By combining Mastercard blockchain technology with our settlement network and associated network rules, we have created a solution that is safe, secure, auditable and easy to scale,” said Ken Moore, executive vice president, Mastercard Labs. “When it comes to payments, we want to provide choice and flexibility to our partners where they are able to seamlessly use both our existing and new payment rails based on the needs and requirements of their customers.”
The blockchain can be used for clearing card payment transactions in real time, eliminating reconciliation and improving settlement. It’s not necessary for partners to host their own nodes initially, but they can do so once the solution goes into production. Mastercard is also exploring applications beyond the expected payments area.
The company’s Blockchain API page provides a variety of use cases. The more obvious Person-to-Person example is described: “when two parties agree to transfer funds they write a settlement request to the Blockchain. The Mastercard Settlement Network reads the Blockchain and will transfer the funds between two banks. It then writes a confirmation of transfer to the Mastercard Blockchain.” However, they also outline Vehicle service history and Proof of provenance as examples for using the Mastercard blockchain.
Mastercard started working on blockchain in 2016 and has filed more than 35 blockchain patents. Also, the payments company invested in Digital Currency Group and joined the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance. They’re working with startups through its Start Path Global program.