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American multinational financial services corporation Mastercard unveiled its first innovation lab in Pune, India this week. Mastercard Labs, Pune, is the ninth such lab established by the company globally, and the second one in Asia Pacific after Singapore.

By opening a lab in the country, the leader in global payments is hoping to forge relationships in the country’s local fintech industry on future technology breakthroughs in digital payments, data manipulation, financial inclusion and fraud prevention.

“Learning, innovation, and collaboration cannot exist in isolation. The launch of the first Mastercard Labs in India is evidence of our commitment to designing solutions that drive commerce and create more inclusive societies around the world,” said Ken Moore, EVP, Mastercard Labs.

According to Microsoft, the plan for the new Pune lab is to ensure that it not only acts as an incubation hub for experimenting with new payment related technologies but also double up as a support base for startup partnerships through the card scheme’s Start Path programme. The lab will exclusively work on collaborating and co-creating with India-based fintech experts, technologists, developers and academia.

Commenting on why Microsoft chose India as a location for its ninth lab, Tobias Puehse, Vice President, Innovation Management, Digital Payments and Labs, Asia Pacific, Mastercard said, “The Mastercard Labs in India provides a significant opportunity to highlight the country’s standing as a world-class innovation hub, renowned for its entrepreneurial spirit and growing pool of science, technology, engineering and mathematics talent. By establishing the new lab in Pune, we are looking to deepen our active collaborations with governments, issuers and businesses in India and revolutionise the market’s digital payments ecosystem to drive greater acceptance and adoption of electronic payments, not just in India but around the world.”

India’s and Fintech’s relationship might have started a little late, but it is surely blooming faster than any other economy. According to a report released by CapGemini SE, a French multinational information technology consulting corporation, earlier this year in June, India has occupied the number two position in the list evaluating the strength of fintech movement all around the world. The list has been topped by US, and is followed by UAE at third, China at fourth, and Netherlands at fifth, after India at second.

The year 2015 was a formative year for the Indian fintech sector, which saw the emergence of numerous fintech start-ups, incubators and investments from public and private investors. Within just two years, the country has come to realise that a right mix of technical skills, capital investments, government policies, regulatory framework and entrepreneurial and innovative mind-set could be the driving force to establish fintech as a key enabler for financial services in India. And Indians seems to be adapting to it pretty well. About 53 per cent of Indians have acknowledged that they have had a positive customer experience with fintech. This percentage is only lower than US, where people have had 53.3 per cent satisfaction.

Mastercard Labs, Pune is one of the several broad-based collaborations the global payment giant has launched in the Indian subcontinent and the wider Asia Pacific region.

In addition to the lab, the year also saw Mastercard collaborating with the National Payments Corporation of India and other payments brands to develop Bharat QR, the world’s first interoperable Quick Response (QR) code acceptance solution.

This development was first reported in CIOL.

[Image: Henry J Lyons Architects]

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