Reports Monday (Oct. 31) said Mastercard’s APIs are linked to its internal blockchain platform and can support the creation of payments and smart contracts tools. The blockchain APIs are available through its Mastercard Labs unit.
“This is part of our initiative to publish experimental APIs from Mastercard Labs and give developers the chance to work on emerging technologies that haven’t yet been commercialized by us,” explained Mastercard Blockchain Head Justin Pinkham in an interview with CoinDesk. “We believe that there is a role of blockchain in the future of commerce. This future needs to be developed in partnership with banks, merchants and industry participants.”
The executive added that Mastercard is taking a collaborative approach to blockchain, both exploring the technology itself and encouraging developers to use distributed ledger technology to create solutions that Mastercard may want to add into its own suite of offerings.
According to Pinkham, Mastercard is looking into using blockchain for interbank payments — key to cross-border transactions — and trade finance use cases.
The company’s investment in blockchain technology could signal a new proactive approach to the technology after Mastercard investor Sequoia Fund warned the credit card firm that blockchain could threaten the company’s dominance in the payments industry.
“Mastercard’s virtues are well-appreciated by the stock market, but the evolution of mobile payment habits and the rise of blockchain ledger technology could pose longer-term challenges to the company’s wildly profitable business model,” the mutual fund operator said in a report released earlier this year.
News of the new APIs follows only days after Mastercard rival Visa announced Visa B2B Connect, a B2B payments platform for banks that uses blockchain technology to settle cross-border transactions. The solution uses blockchain FinTech company Chain, which has developed infrastructure dubbed Core. Visa B2B Connect is slated for release to banks sometime next year.