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Mastercard banking on collaboration in Sydney Tech Hub launch

Mastercard tech hub launch

Mastercard Australasia division president Richard Wormald and NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet shake hands during the Mastercard Tech Hub launch on 12 November 2018 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe)

Startups, payment partners and Mastercard employees able to collaborate in project "neighbourhoods".

Pressing thumb to device, NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet performed the 21st century version of the ribbon-cutting ceremony and unlocked the new Mastercard global Tech Hub today in St. Leonards, Sydney. The new Tech Hub will bring together 550+ Mastercard employees previously in four different locations across Sydney as well as new dedicated spaces for testing and product design for Mastercard partners. The structure of the entire hub is optimised to allow for collaboration but also flexibility between those housed in it, which can be up to 1,000 people.

"The concept you'll see us designing around is what we're calling neighbourhoods," said Ed McLaughlin, president of operations and technology at Mastercard.

"Everyone is pulled together around what they're working on; the initiative or the objective that they have. We can bring people from all sorts of disciplines and have them work together [...] Someone who is working on a loyalty platform can have a security expert literally next door to them."

On the top floor of the startup hub, Mastercard partners are able to co-create directly with the payments company and then test on customers. A dedicated customer feedback room, complete with a double-glazed one-way mirror, provides a space to test product iterations.


NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet is shown facilities during the Mastercard Tech Hub launch on 12 November 2018 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe)

"We have everyone included here," said Richard Wormald, division president Australasia at Mastercard. "We co-create with clients, we have partners, we have our dev teams, product teams, everyone who has a vested interest in the product sits on this side of the lab, observes our customers interacting with products, and that's how we really learn and we innovate."

"There are sometimes some very robust discussions that happen on this side of the mirror based on how we interpret the users interacting with our technology."

The top floor also houses a room dedicated to solving "top secret problems" for major banks, retailers and fintech businesses. As per the rest of Mastercard team's working in scrums, the team has five days to complete the objective. For teams working in this room, the product at the end is not only a solution but also a working prototype and an advertorial for the company's board to view.

The new Tech Hub will be able to support Mastercard's partnerships in a whole new way, which, for McLaughlin, is at the core of innovation.

"I think the heart of the digital revolution is how different types of companies can now work together like they never have before," he said. "Our ability to work with large retailers to say how can they optimise their business to work with our traditional bank partners, to how they can serve their customers better and all the work we're doing with, for example, the fintech and startup community. So folks like Afterpay, Zip, Airwallex."

Collaboration is important for innovation, especially in the payments space. Separate technology and devices need to be able to function together to be useful to consumers.

"We think every connected device you have is an opportunity for contextual commerce to make your life better," said McLaughlin. "So constantly taking the capabilities we have in the network to make it secure, to make it work, to give you all the things you have today and to constantly expand that and create new experiences either directly or with partners. That is what I think is exciting in payments."

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