MasterCard in the age of artificial intelligence


The buzzword at Fintech 2018 was AI (Artificial Intelligence). This means that more and more merchants will move towards using AI in their transactions.

But for MasterCard, a major participant of the event, it is as much about getting the most sophisticated technology as it is about making sure that its cards remain secure and safe for its customers.

“AI has been around for a long time,” said Steve Flinter, practice lead for Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, MasterCard Labs. “It is not really a new technology and it has undergone several evolutions.”

Will AI take the place of dealing with humans when there are card transactions?

“Yes” and “no” was his reply.

It was an interesting afternoon as we discussed how we can have personal shoppers at MasterCard that use AI and how to ensure they will know as much about us as we choose to reveal — and not more.

“We take this development in AI and other technologies that are taking the spotlight here at Fintech 2018 as an opportunity for MasterCard to become part of other markets,” said Ari Sarker, co-president, Asia-Pacific, MasterCard. “Although we have been around for more than 50 years, we still believe that with startup companies in password technologies we can better serve other markets.”

Sarker added that the development of technology and how we use it is going to happen at a faster pace now. He said that it took longer in the Industrial Revolution for people to adjust to changes.

SMS text messages used to be the technology of choice in the past for MasterCard; now, texting a password is part of the past for millennials.

“We can see where the technology is going, and that it is going fast, and if we do not keep up we will fail to deliver on expectations,” Sarker said.  “How AI is being used in the financial services space is important. But equally important to MasterCard is safety and security.”

And even as we walked around the MasterCard booth in the Expo Hall in Singapore and caught a glimpse of the future of self-driven cars, there was a need to make sure that all remains safe and secure with MasterCard.

“What technology has done is enable segments of the economy to get connected with their markets in ways that they were previously unable to do,” said Sarker. “Yet we know that trust is going to be the cornerstone of all these new technologies. And MasterCard is sure to be at the forefront of the development of this trust.”

Fintech 2018 was a gathering of big players in the financial and technology sectors discussing largely about AI and how it will make lives simpler and better for those who learn to use it properly. But still, here in Southeast Asia, although we were told by MasterCard that there are farmers in the rural areas that are starting to use the technology that MasterCard offers — there is still room for them to learn to be more trusting of the technology.

MasterCard believes this will come in time — as long as it maintains the trust of its clients.

And that, like most technological advancements in the last 10 years, depends on how secure passwords are kept within a system.

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