Mastercard interview: “We’re playing with a purpose”


Daniel Webber
Daniel Webber
Founder & CEO
Daniel is Founder and CEO of FXcompared and FXC Intelligence and has 18 years of experience in the international finance world focusing on cross-border payments, technology and the property sectors.… Read more
  • Interview with Deborah Barta reveals insights into firm’s plans for blockchain through its “Labs” offshoot, which was founded almost ten years ago
  • Mastercard is a key player in the blockchain cross border payments sector
  • “We always say that we don’t just play. We’re playing with a purpose, which is pinpoint-driven”, she said

A senior figure at Mastercard has used an interview to explain the firm’s thinking behind its use of blockchain for cross border payments.

Deborah Barta, who serves as senior vice president of innovation and startup engagement at Mastercard Labs, was quoted in popular online magazine Built In as describing what she perceived as a move away from “sensationalism”.

“The sensationalism that media has brought to blockchain is beginning to burn off”, she said.

“The people who have been focused on blockchain from the beginning — not as a savior but as a technology — are now focused on the practical applications of the technology”, she added.

She also used the interview to go into some more detail about what the firm’s approach to online money transfer is.

The firm, which has for two years been using blockchain to help bring together financial institutions without the requirement for intermediaries, is a leader in the field.

It follows what is known as a “permissioned” blockchain system, which refers to the fact that only people who were nodes in the transaction process can access details about it.

The firm white labels its blockchain software, meaning that companies can pick up the application programming interfaces (or APIs) and use them under their own names.

They have to apply for the right to do so, but once approved, they can be used for the creation of cross border payments services.

The result is that Mastercard never puts its own transactions through, with all of the activity going through these third parties.

For Deborah Barta, this is “playing with a purpose”.

“We always say that we don’t just play. We’re playing with a purpose, which is pinpoint-driven”, she argued.

She works for the “Labs” side of Mastercard, which works within what she calls “the product life cycle”.

“We have dedicated engineering teams and product-minded folks working at all stages of the product life cycle”, she said.

“There’s a commercial model to sustain, so we’re not just playing in a vacuum. We want to make sure that what we build can actually be scaled”, said Barta.

She has worked for Labs for seven years and has been a key part of the firm’s blockchain product development.

Labs itself has existed for almost a decade, and it now has over ten offices across the globe due to a programme of significant expansion.

Overall, it is headquartered in Dublin in the Republic of Ireland.

Blockchain – and its relationship to cross border payments – can be confusing.

However, by keeping on top of media stories about it, you can ensure that you don’t miss a thing. Check out our magazine here.

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