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Mastercard, Microsoft Leverage Cloud to Spur Commerce Innovation

Mastercard is looking to take the cloud capabilities at its Mastercard Labs R&D division to the next level in collaboration with one of the largest cloud providers today—Microsoft.

The companies have extended their partnership to carry out three initiatives: shape the future of digital commerce, drive startup innovation and enable financial inclusion across all business sizes.

The payments giant is leveraging Microsoft Azure, the cloud computing platform designed to build, test, deploy and manage applications through its data centers, as well as augmented reality, virtual reality and Internet of Things (IoT) services, to carry out its mission to de-risk and commercialize emerging technologies for its partners and help them build and scale new solutions.

Financial terms of the collaboration have not been disclosed.

“This strategic collaboration will strengthen and extend our cloud services and capabilities for clients and fintech partners, sparking innovation and creativity for the ecosystem,” said Ken Moore, executive vice president and head of Mastercard Labs. “It will enable us to explore opportunities focused on new client segments, technologies and trends as we continue to drive financial inclusion and build the future of commerce.”

In December 2018, Mastercard and Microsoft partnered to improve individual control over who sees consumers’ information and how it is used during shopping, with the goal to securely enable a more personalized and efficient shopping experience both online and in stores, regardless of the payment type, device or service provider.

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The fintech giant has sought to make a bigger impact in commerce as businesses have been impacted throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Mastercard initially set a goal to bring 500 million people into the financial system, a goal it surpassed in early 2020. But given the recent state of the world, the company doubled its goal to instead connect 1 billion individuals and 50 million micro and small merchants into the digital economy.

In April, Mastercard committed $250 million in services and support over the next five years to help SMBs in the U.S. migrate from brick-and-mortar to online, including cybersecurity and anti-fraud tools.

The Mastercard-Microsoft collaboration can potentially bring more smaller businesses into the fold, but it also enhances the relationships with Mastercard’s present ecosystem, particularly in helping them develop new digital experiences.

The collaboration is designed to expand support for the fintech community within Mastercard’s Start Path program by helping diversify and build new businesses, and creating and scaling new cloud-first digital products and services. The Start Path program has assisted with the development of more than 230 fintech companies worldwide to democratize access to financial services.

Like Mastercard, Microsoft shares the commitment to ensure businesses in underserved communities have access to digital products and services to realize their full potential. In one such case, the Azure cloud environment will also support Mastercard Community Pass—a platform designed to provide underserved communities with access to essential services, like education, agriculture marketplaces and basic healthcare.