MasterCard made two announcements Monday at the annual Mobile World Congress in Spain that are intended to create better digital payments experiences for consumers while helping merchants keep pace with new technology developments.
MasterCard said its new partnership with software company Oracle will focus on three needs for restaurants, hotels and retail stores: The in-store experience for consumers, merchant operational efficiencies and what it calls cross-channel consistency.
One way MasterCard will help merchants develop and scale in-store experiences is through Qkr! with Masterpass, the card network's mobile order-ahead and payment platform.
MasterCard also announced Monday it expanded Qkr's availability to six new markets: Brazil, Canada, Ireland, Singapore, South Africa and the U.S.
Qkr already was active in Australia, Colombia, Mexico and the U.K. and is being used at quick-service fast-casual restaurants such as wagamama, Juan Valdez, ASK Italian, Young's Pubs, Zizzi, and Change Please, a mobile coffee-delivery social project run by the homeless in London, according to a press release.
MasterCard's focus on Qkr comes at a time when mobile order-ahead is becoming a standard feature at quick-service and fast-casual restaurants.
Chains such as Chick-Fil-A, Domino's, Dunkin' Donuts, Pizza Hut and Starbucks, just to name a few, have all added the capability with varying degrees of success.
Starbucks actually has faced some challenges with mobile order-ahead because it's become a popular feature with its customers. The coffee giant said last month in an earnings call that it saw some operational challenges in its highest volume stores and that caused customers to seek their caffeine fix elsewhere.
MasterCard sees some other ways Qkr can be a useful feature outside the restaurant industry and that's where the Oracle partnership comes into play.
"Across a spectrum of merchants, we see a real need to help not just drive new innovative experiences for the benefit of the [merchants] but also operational efficiencies," Kiki Del Valle, senior vice president of digital payments and labs at MasterCard, told Mobile Payments Today in an interview ahead of the announcement. "We are jointly building a connected store experience with Oracle for the benefit of retailers, restaurants and hotels."
Part of the in-store experience will see MasterCard combine digital payments such as Qkr with Oracle's point-of-service technology. Oracle, in turn, also will integrate Masterpass into its products to enable retailers to provide an easier check-out experience across different channels, whether it's in-store, mobile or online.
MasterCard and Oracle already were working together with some merchants in the U.K., including wagamama, Carluccio's, Young & Co's Brewery and Geronimo Pubs. Those establishments let customers use Qkr to order additional items during meals, pay at the table and split the bill with friends.
"Payments is an essential component of the consumer journey," Del Valle said. "And through this partnership with Oracle, what we're doing is delivering a joint solution that can build hospitality and retailer brands [with better payments experiences] and drive these operational efficiencies."
Photo courtesy of MasterCard.
/ Will Hernandez has 14 years of experience ranging from newspapers to wire services and trade publications. Before becoming Editor of MobilePaymentsToday.com, he spent two years as the content manager for PaymentsJournal.com, a leading payments industry news aggregator and information hub published by Mercator Advisory Group. Will spent four years covering the payments industry as an associate editor for multiple publications in SourceMedia's Payments Group based in Chicago.