MasterCard Inc. unveiled a slew of new partners today for the U.S. version of its MasterPass digital payment program, but Canadian users will have to wait a bit longer to see equally widespread adoption north of the border, a company representative tells ITBusiness.ca.
Jason Davies, MasterCard Canada’s head of digital payments and labs, says that while the company is presently focused on the U.S. market given its size and adventurous consumer base, Canadians can expend a similar push, accompanied by MasterCard’s new digital-first branding, sometime in 2017.
“We’re really excited about the progress of MasterPass in the U.S.,” he says. “There’s been a lot of inertia converted into momentum… and with the launch of Apple Pay in Canada late last year and the larger launch this year, I think we’re starting to see that inertia being converted into momentum here in Canada too.”
The company launched a new application program interface (API) for MasterPass in the U.S. today, with at least 16 initial banking partners including Bank of America, Citi, and BMO Harris, the American division of Bank of Montreal; and “hundreds of thousands” of merchant partners, according to a July 14 press release, including MLB.com and Office Depot.
MasterCard also revealed a new logo (below), which the company’s chief marketing and communications officer Raja Rajamannar said was the result of two years of research and aimed at repositioning MasterCard as a platform-agnostic digital payment brand. (Notice the lower-case “c,” meant to acknowledge that in a digital world, the “card” part of Mastercard’s name is less relevant.)
“We don’t want to be perceived as a credit card brand… we want to evolve into an experiential brand,” Rajamannar told attendees at a July 14 presentation at the company’s Purchase, N.Y. headquarters.
But what about Canada?
As in Canada, where MasterPass was first launched back in 2013 and has made headlines recently for its “Identity Check” feature, colloquially known as “selfie pay,” Mastercard’s digital payment service has been available in the U.S. for longer than it’s been popular – hence Davies’ acknowledgement of its inertia.
“I think a lot of the larger financial institutions like CitiBank, Capital One, and Bank of America announcing that they would launch a buy-in based wallet that connects to MasterPass… put a catalyst into the (U.S.) market for everyone to start putting a digital payment solution into the hands of their consumers,” culminating in today’s announcement, he says.
Davies anticipates a similar transition happening in Canada, where Bank of Montreal and the National Bank of Canada have both established what he calls “a pretty solid footprint” for MasterPass, but the technology has yet to be widely adopted.
That said, Canadians with MasterPass can use it for online merchants that ship to Canada, and with select companies such as WestJet and Bass Pro Shop, Davies says.
“Nothing is stopping issuers from implementing in Canada today,” he says. “The product is available to Canadian financial institutions, but I think everyone is assessing the market, and Canadian financial institutions will move at a pace that makes sense to their businesses and this market.”
“Certainly we’re seeing growth here in Canada, and… you’re going to see a transformation in the Canadian digital payment space over the next few months,” he adds.