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Mastercard starts testing quantum computers to hyper personalise rewards

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WHY THIS MATTERS IN BRIEF

Many in the payments industry believe that what makes their cards unique and relevant is the rewards they offer, so Mastercard are hyper personalising those rewards using QC.

 

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Quantum computing sounds like a Space Age construct, or at least the potential to build vast and powerful networks that can crack humanity’s most complicated and vexing problems. But Steve Flinter, vice president, software engineering at Mastercard, told reporters the other day that quantum computing also has the power to completely transform the fundamentals of consumer-facing commerce.

 

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With that in mind, the payments network “has entered a multi-year strategic alliance with D-Wave Systems to harness quantum computing in a bid to bring hyper-personalization to everyday financial services.”

In detailing the partnership, the companies said that they would work together on R&D initiatives that would have applications in consumer loyalties and rewards, cross-border settlement, and fraud management.

 

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In terms of mechanics, the collaboration will use D-Wave’s cloud computing platform to deliver real-time access to quantum applications “safely and securely” powered by Mastercard’s network.

At a high level, said Flinter, quantum computing represents the “next evolution of computing” — a natural extension of trends that have brought technology that was the domain of computational theorists and science fiction novelists a couple of decades ago to new commercial models.

Quantum computing, through the efforts of companies like D-Wave, harnesses new ways of looking at physical reality to build new computing devices that solve harder and more complex problems that even today’s most powerful supercomputers couldn’t solve in billions of years of computation.

 

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“This will give us, on the user side, access to the computational power that will allow us to build a range of applications, products, and services for our enterprise customers, and our customers’ customers [consumers],” Flinter said.

In reference to how quantum applications can transform finance, Flinter noted that while the technologies are being applied to derivatives and credit risk pricing – the capital markets, in other words – Mastercard wants to see how this new age of computing can address some of the pain points inherent in everyday commerce.

Those pain points, he said, can most readily be observed in the fact that as problems scale exponentially, traditional computers can’t scale to solve them. For example, as loyalty programs gain ground, and merchants and banks and consumers crowd the eCommerce landscape, it’s getting harder and harder to match the best rates and offers to cardholders while meeting their ever-increasing expectations.

 

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Quantum efforts, he said, also mean that financial institutions and other firms can use “hyper-personalization” as they gain insight into consumers’ behaviours, again at scale and most importantly in real time.

“You can start to layer in location awareness services,” said Flinter, which then lets enterprises tailor their offers on a consumer-by-consumer basis, in context of the commerce that’s occurring in the moment, with permissioned data.

Looking ahead, Flinter said Mastercard’s joint efforts with D-Wave will seek to touch “the entire set of business units” across the payments network, enabling each unit to find applications within their own domains to build quantum-powered solutions for their end customers.

“We’ll find ways to make our existing applications suites better and more powerful,” Flinter said, “and uncover brand new ideas that we — and perhaps nobody — ever thought of before … creating new businesses and new markets.”

 

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