The convergence of the digital and physical worlds is more than a MasterCard rally cry. It is in fact a fundamental shift that’s driving the Fourth Industrial Revolution or Industry 4.0, where automation, data exchange and manufacturing technologies are going to simplify our lives, drive better experiences and give us more time to focus on things that matter most… our families, friends and experiences. By Ajay Bhalla, president, Enterprise Security Solutions, MasterCard


But to get to this state of safe automation and connectivity, we need to talk about the role of security AND innovation. Both are of paramount importance.

When the World Wide Web was first invented, it was not designed with security in mind. The subsequent global expansion has not only brought about enormous change to people and business but has also introduced us to new forms of threats.

The Internet of Things (IoT) will offer more opportunity for commerce and positively impact financial inclusion across the world. However, with every new connected device, security needs to be included from the concept stage as a priority. It is more important than ever that we address cybersecurity challenges while fighting hacks, breaches, stolen identities and more – all in an effort to stay ahead of the bad guys.

Innovation cannot be done with security as an afterthought. Instead, security and innovation need to be developed hand-in-hand and planned for from idea inception to product rollout, and beyond.

Last week, I was part of a panel discussion at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. The panel “Securing the next evolution of the connected world,” featured Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web and Salesforce.

With this philosophy in mind, it was indeed a timely and exciting panel so I wanted to share some key highlights:

  • User experience is KING. With the number of connected devices predicted to grow to 25-50bn by 2025, the IoT will converge and change the consumer experience for the better, improving lives both at home and at work, saving time, keeping you safe and healthy so you can spend time on things that matter most like family, friends and passions. Thing-to-Thing payments is the future, we need to embrace that it will be wider than the mobile devices we consider today. Can your car pay for your parking meter directly and automatically? Can your wearables make recommendations without manual intervention?  MasterCard is already embracing this concept… we are developing new ways to pay using smart rings, clothing, vehicle key fobs and our partnership with Samsung to produce Groceries by MasterCard app in use on the new Samsung Family Hub fridge is just the latest example!
  • In addition to consumers, for businesses, the opportunity is HUGE!  For example, retailers will join their in-store and digital services together, for an immersive shopping experience. Helping shoppers spend in-store in a similar way to online, with digital signage and point-of-sale systems being personalised, making suggestions in store for consumer preferences. To fully take advantage of this market, the IoT needs to be enabled for commerce.
  •  Security and Trust. I’ve said this many times before, but it’s worth repeating –security is our No. 1 priority at MasterCard and should be for all other companies. The growth and success of the IoT hinges on trust – especially when consumers’ money and data is at stake. Every device has to be a secure commerce device; if not secured, consumers won’t tolerate loss of their data or money … or worse yet, will completely abandon participation in the IoT, resorting back to old school ways.  Indeed, MasterCard has done a great job to prepare for this evolution with solutions to secure an IoT payments ecosystem: Tokenization, digital wallets, biometrics, and anomaly detection using data analytics across our network to spot suspicious device and consumer behaviours.
  •  Sinking or Swimming… who will succeed? The magic formula is this: 1) create positive consumer experience + 2) develop SECURE products + 3) earn the TRUST of customers + 4) analyze data insights then use it to solve a problem + 5) give consumers a CHOICE to drive greater adoption.

 This was a strong session with global leaders and MasterCard at the table as a leader in payments enabling new solutions around secure payments in the IoT world.

The feedback was clear that our leadership is understood and we need to keep enhancing the conversations and directions to enable greater commerce in a secure and trusted fashion.

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