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MasterCard unveils contactless payment platform in Kuwait – Payments made easier, safer and smarter

businessKUWAIT: MasterCard, a leader in global payments, has introduced the contactless payment solution in Kuwait in collaboration with Boubyan Bank, making payments easier, safer and smarter for consumers.

Speaking to Kuwait Times in an interview, Raghav Prasad, General Manager – Gulf Countries at MasterCard, said the contactless solution has benefits for all parties involved in the payment process-from consumers to merchants to financial institutions. The contactless solution was launched in Kuwait last week though it was launched initially by MasterCard in 2005 in the US.

“The contactless payment technology is developing rapidly around the world due to which there is a lot of adoption of this technology. In the Middle East, Kuwait is ideal for this technology because the people here are very fond of their gadgets and they adapt to new technology very fast,” Prasad said.

Prasad said MasterCard is leading the industry with its “contactless” payment platform. “Our aim is to make payments as convenient, safe, simple and smart as possible for consumers. The contactless payments card is fundamentally designed to make the low value payment process of the people easier and faster. Unlike the usual process, the contactless payment card just needs to be tapped on the machine for the payment, which makes the payment simplified. The card is very safe and secure and the data cannot be taken or accessed by others wrongly. The distance over which the contactless payment works is very small. “So there can be no worrying about the data getting stolen,” Prasad explained.

The technology provides consumers with a cash alternative that allows them to purchase what they need and when they need it without being limited to cash on hand, he said. It also enhances the feeling of security as cardholders remain in control of their card or device during transactions, he said.

“From a merchant’s point of view,” Prasad said, “there are multiple benefits. First and foremost, merchants hate handling cash. The contactless payment reduces the amount of cash the merchant has to deal with. It reduces the cost for the merchant and makes the merchant’s life easier. There is no reconciliation to be done since it is automated,” he pointed out.

It also allows merchants to function more efficiently and serve their customers better. MasterCard contactless speeds consumers through the checkout process, reduces cash handling, improves efficiency and provides competitive differentiation, he said. According to Prasad, MasterCard data analysis demonstrated that adding MasterCard contactless drives cards to top of wallet, generating higher spend. The increase in spend is not only generated from new tapped transactions, but also from a significant rise in total transactions.

“It is also good from the regulator’s point of view. It is a technology that serves the purposes of all the stakeholders in the payment value chain. It makes life easier, safer, faster and cheaper. We think it is a very strong proposition and we are quite delighted that MasterCard’s contactless payment solution has come to Kuwait,” Prasad said. “In the last few years, we have been focusing a lot on the Kuwait market. We have been quite successful in building a good market share in Kuwait over the last few years. We work with all the banks and the regulators here because we want to be a part of the fabric of Kuwait,” he said.

“Kuwait is a market where customers are quite affluent and MasterCard is leading the market in catering to their needs. If you look around the market, MasterCard has the majority of all the travel related cards,” he said.

MasterCard has collaborated with many local banks like National Bank of Kuwait, Kuwait Finance House, Burgan Bank etc to launch miles cards. Similarly, Al-Ahli Bank of Kuwait and Burgan Bank have launched MasterCard’s multi-currency cards which can store up to seven foreign currencies. “When you are abroad, the multi-currency card recognizes the currency you need, sparing the customers from carrying foreign currencies during travel,” Prasad said.

“MasterCard has a whole suite of products that are designed to bring efficiency to business-to-business payments. We have products specially designed for SMEs and corporate to ensure improved cash flow,” he said. “In the current economic situation with prices of oil sinking and stock markets crashing, our products help corporates and SMEs manage their businesses efficiently and effectively through B2B transactions. As a technology company, we have to work at four levels. We have to look after the customers, financial sector, regulators and governments,” he said.

By Sajeev K Peter

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