MasterCard Worldwide has declared its
laboratory open for business as it plans to launch an API Developer
Portal allowing innovative payment application ideas to

MasterCard claims that third-party and
independent software developers around the world will be able to
create a new wave of e-commerce and mobile payment applications
through the release of its Open Application Programming Interfaces
(Open APIs) which will become available later this year.

The portal enables developers access to the
Open APIs and will provide technical documentation, software
development kits (SDKs), sample source code, reference guides, and
“virtual sandboxes” for testing new and innovative applications. A
developer forum designed to spur collaboration between MasterCard
engineers and developers will also be an integral component of the
new portal.

According to financial analysts Aite Group,
MasterCard’s strategy to drive payment innovation forward is a
welcome move.

“MasterCard’s announcement highlights that the
battle for opening payment networks to third-party developers is
heating up,” said Gwenn Bezard, research director for Aite Group.
“MasterCard’s announcement comes on the heels of Paypal’s launch of
the X platform late last year, and the developing of related
offerings by firms like IP Commerce. The open API strategy could
have a profound impact on the future of the payment industry by
enabling the development of thousands of new applications and
hundreds of new payment ventures in the coming years.”

MasterCard believes that the Open APIs will
further enhance the development of new applications and systems
beyond those currently available, including CRMs, ERPs, online
games, merchant e-commerce web sites, eWallets, mobile
applications, and payroll systems.

“Over the past few years, we have used some of
our Open APIs internally to create groundbreaking new iPhone
applications, such as MasterCard ATM Hunter and MasterCard Easy
Savings,” said Garry Lyons, group executive, research and
development, MasterCard Worldwide.  “Opening these and other
APIs to the global development community developers 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.”

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.