Learnings from the Lab: Mastercard's vision for the future of payments and identify

Learnings from the Lab: Mastercard's vision for the future of payments and identify

(4 minute read)

With a focus on IoT, it’s Mike Friedman’s job at Mastercard to envision and enable the future of payments and identity verification solutions .

Mike is the Vice President for IoT Strategy at the venerable financial services technology company.  He’s also a self-professed “payment geek “who has spent the past decade-plus at Mastercard focusing on the bleeding edge of commerce, and keeping the company at the forefront of an ever-changing industry.  Recently he joined one of our Batch #5 roundtables to share his insights with members of the 5G Open Innovation Lab ecosystem, telling us Mastercard has leaned heavily into innovation for years as a way to differentiate itself from its competitors.

“Innovation is core to what we do at Mastercard, and for me – in IoT – innovation is really about nurturing ecosystems,” he said.

According to Mike, the explosion of payment options such as embedding credentials into wearables, automobiles or other connected devices has dramatically increased the number of stakeholders involved, making the development of new ecosystems critical.

“It's identifying the right use cases, it's identifying the right partners, it's working with standards organizations. It's showing the value along the way to our traditional customers. And so a lot of this is really trying to raise new ground,” he said.

While Mastercard faces stiff competition from traditional and countless new players and models in the payment space, there’s still a fundamental role for the company, according to Mike.

“To paraphrase one of my former managers, at the end of the day, there are always going to be people who have information or data or material goods or services that they want to deliver, and people who need to acquire these items. And you're always going to need some trusted system of exchange between those entities. Whether we're talking about traditional payments or something new, Mastercard’s technology provides the network to securely and intelligently facilitate that interaction,” he said.

One area that excites him is the ever-expanding concept of what he calls “frictionless solutions.”  For now those include things like paying for an Uber, or grab-and-go stores like Amazon Go where the payment happens automatically.  But he says there are far more scenarios he can envision leveraging edge computing, 5G, IoT and big data to dramatically transform commerce.

Mike regularly uses the term “autonomous commerce.” It’s the idea that commerce is happening without direct input, using things like predictive analytics or computer vision to understand what the consumer wants to do, what devices or enterprises want or need to do with the transactional ecosystem.  But he says there are still far more questions than answers.

“What does it mean to have an autonomous IoT transaction? And it becomes a very philosophical discussion. We don't have an answer yet. But in a world where transactions are happening autonomously or semi-autonomously, what are the rules, the standards? You can imagine your car going out and fueling itself or charging itself, or maybe making a robo-taxi run, right? These are examples that people are contemplating for the future.”

But Mike is looking at more than just facilitating different types of transactions.  Data solutions are a huge focus as well, and the power of edge compute plays a big part in his future vision for identity verification services and IoT.

“One of the ideas I’ve been stuck on lately is actually around something like the Harry Potter experience at Universal Studios. You have a device, and the device causes an interaction with the environment. And that concept makes me wonder what other kinds of complex orchestrations we can enable through identity.  When I go to a hotel for the first time, why shouldn't I be able to tap on the door of the hotel, check into the room, have the room set up the way that I want it set up?  When I go to a store, can the ability to “check in” unlock new experiences and value for the consumer and the merchant?  If we can personalize the metaverse, can we use IoT to personalize the physical world, too?”

It’s a lot to process and the possibilities are endless.  But you can be assured Mastercard and Mike Friedman will remain at the forefront of innovation, ensuring they remain a critical piece of how we conduct commerce for many years to come.

Our thanks to Mike Friedman, VP of IoT at Mastercard, for sharing his expertise and insights with our Lab community. 

Posted May 04, 2022

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