MasterCard is to release Open Application Programming Interfaces (Open APIs) for third-party and independent software developers around the world in a bid to create a new wave of e-commerce and mobile payment applications.
The new Open API program is the first initiative from the newly created MasterCard Labs. The card scheme says it will provide developers with technical documentation, software development kits (SDKs), sample source code, reference guides, and "virtual sandboxes" for testing new applications. A developer forum designed to spur collaboration between MasterCard engineers and developers will also be set up.
Josh Peirez, chief innovation officer, MasterCard says: "We feel this will unleash innovation within our industry especially in the burgeoning areas of e-commerce and mobile payments."
The move follows similar initiatives by PayPal and Google, which have tapped into the inventiveness of the worldwide developer community and spurred the creation of multiple new payment programmes.
In addition to payments, MasterCard says it has identified approximately 20 complementary platforms and services that it plans to open up to developers, including CRMs, ERPs, online games, merchant e-commerce web sites, eWallets, mobile applications, and payroll systems.
MasterCard payment and data services also could be integrated with other data sources and functions to create "mashups" - new applications that are a result of combining multiple data sources.
Garry Lyons, group executive, eesearch and development, MasterCard says the card scheme has already used its open APIs internally to create new iPhone applications, such as its ATM Hunter and Easy Savings apps.
He says: "Opening these and other APIs...will provide developers the opportunity to leverage MasterCard's leading payment platforms and come up with new ideas that may not have been previously considered or thought possible."