A young blonde man in a wine-coloured sweater gives the camera a toothy smile, head angled slightly downwards.
Alonso Araujo. Image: Luke Maxwell/Silicon Republic

How to stay relevant in an increasingly digital world

28 Mar 2019

The world is changing, including the world of payments. Mastercard knows this, which is why it is preparing for the future at its boundary-pushing Dublin R&D lab.

The world of payments is changing drastically. The rise of fintech is disrupting the space intensely, creating opportunities for newer companies to eke out their own corner of the market.

Yet they still have the legacy companies to contend with, and these legacy companies in turn have to rise to the challenge of remaining competitive. It’s a challenge that Mastercard, however, is breezing through.

Future Human

We headed down to the Mastercard R&D office based in Dublin to hear more about what’s going on there, and we found that the work is extremely varied. It stretches far beyond what you may initially associate with the brand.

Alonso Araujo is a consultant software engineer at Mastercard Labs in Dublin. He is currently leading a research area dubbed “new interfaces”.

He explains: “We focus on things like voice interfaces, natural language processing, augmented reality and virtual reality – even gaming and e-sports. We look at these technology trends and try and understand how they’re going to impact the future of e-commerce and payments.”

Araujo is keen to stress that it’s “not all about cards” at the company. The market is broadening far beyond that, and the scope of the work done there will expand in line with technological possibilities. “One of the main objectives of this team is to look beyond cash and plastic credit cards to help Mastercard stay relevant in an increasingly digital world.”

“Our focus is on discovering and unlocking the potential of new technologies and new business models for consumers and businesses around the globe,” added Dave Fleming, global head of research and development at Mastercard Labs. “We solve problems for farmers in Africa to [help them] get the best price of their grain, all the way up to corporates who are looking to drive new digital solutions.”

The company is on a recruitment drive to help meet its lofty goals. Of course, it will want the usual suspects such as software engineers but Fleming is quick to stress that the available roles are broad.

What’s more, having the traditional hard skills you’d expect won’t be enough to guarantee success in an environment such as Mastercard. You’d better brush up on your soft skills, too – particularly creativity, which will prove essential when tackling the complex problems you can expect to be working on at the firm.

“Whether it’s looking at a technical problem from a new angle or brainstorming to come up with new product ideas … I’m sure you will find technical challenges that are rewarding.”

For more on what it’s like to work at Mastercard Labs, check out the full video interview above.

Eva Short
By Eva Short

Eva Short was a journalist at Silicon Republic, specialising in the areas of tech, data privacy, business, cybersecurity, AI, automation and future of work, among others.

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