Mastercard outlines future digital payment platforms after improvements to Qkr

Mastercard has developed its mobile app, Qkr, for spectators at The Open Championship. The improvements further demonstrate new digital payment platforms offered by the company

Mastercard has expanded the functionality of its digital mobile payment app, Qkr, with golfing spectators at the 2017 Open Championship among the first to benefit.

During The Open, which ran between 16 and 23 July at the Royal Birkdale Golf Club in Southport, spectators were able to use Qkr to order food and beverages on their phone and have it delivered to them in minutes.

The mobile payment app works with the Mastercard Masterpass system to allow users to split the bill or pay in advance for goods and services.

It can also be used in schools to enable parents to pay for their children’s meals.

The Open followed other sporting events, such as South American football tournament Copa América and US golf competition The Arnold Palmer Invitational, in using the app.

James Anderson, executive vice-president of digital payment products at Mastercard, spoke at an event in the Mastercard clubhouse at Royal Birkdale on 19 July, highlighting how it also improved the restaurant experience.

“To me, it’s a classic example of process re-engineering in action,” he said. “Going to a restaurant used to be a linear activity: walking there, arriving, getting seated, ordering, requesting payment, paying and leaving. This process still remains in 99% of restaurants.

“If you look at Qkr in that category, what we’re finding is opportunities to break that linearity, and either make it parallel or take something that used to exist in this context and put it up front.”

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Diners will be able to use the app to pay for their food without having to wait for the bill to arrive and be processed.

Not only does this method improve the customer experience, but also the transaction volume for Mastercard. “If you go through the traditional linear process in the restaurant, a whole bunch of those people are going to pull out cash because it’s easier to do so,” said Anderson.

“If you’re ordering ahead, there’s no way to use cash. If you’re paying at the table, there’s no way to use cash. This re-engineering through digital opens up the opportunity to drive more volume in categories – some of which have been harder to penetrate.”

Digital changes in retail

Elsewhere at the event, Anderson and Ken Moore, head of Mastercard Labs, discussed the company’s broadening payment technology roadmap and strategy.

Moore said it was important to discuss these issues to indicate the company is not solely about payments, but badges itself as a “technology company in commerce”.

At a macro level, the key objective for Mastercard is to remove cash from the transaction equation. For every use case for cash, the company wants to provide a “safe, secure and seamless” alternative solution. 

One significant change consumers can expect to see in the future is tighter integration between retail and commerce in their daily lives, drawing on aspects of the internet of things (IoT).

To back this point, Moore said Mastercard sees a time when every device could be considered a commerce device, including household items.

Samsung’s connected fridge was cited as an example. “This type of experience will become far more integrated into all the other things you’re doing over the course of the day; in your home, kitchen, car, or anywhere else. It’s going to seep into the other parts of our life,” he said.

The future of digital payment platforms

Similarly, when asked where he saw digital payment platforms heading in five years’ time, Anderson envisaged the next shift. “There’s going to be a transformation from digitised payments, which means analogue things that became digital, to a far more native digital,” he said.

“That’s going to be the next click. It’s not just payments – it’s also the whole commerce experience. I think in a few years’ time, the idea of going to a website to buy something actually might be out of date.

“The trend will be that commerce opportunities will be part of the flow of your day,” said Anderson. “You’ll buy them and pay for them in a more organic fashion.”

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