News Column

MasterCard to open first processing centre in UAE

May 14, 2014

Cleofe Maceda Senior Reporter


Electronic payment giant MasterCard will open this year a multimillion dollar processing centre in the UAE to help drive the adoption of next-generation payment solutions in the region, Gulf News learnt yesterday.

The one-stop facility, which will further strengthen the brand's presence in the Middle East, will handle the processing requirements of banks, governments, telecommunication companies and retailers in the region.

Once the facility goes live in the fourth quarter of the year, MasterCard will be the first global brand to set up a processing centre in the UAE. With 1.9 billion cards worldwide, MasterCard is one of the leading brands in the electronic payment industry.

Cathy McCaul, president of MasterCard global processing, who recently flew to Dubai for the major project, said the processing centre will complement the global strategy to expand the company's presence in high-growth markets. The Middle East and Africa is considered one of the brand's fastest growing emerging markets in the world.

The facility promises to help MasterCard customers speed up the launch of innovative payment solutions in the region. "As it stands today, we don't have this kind of processing business or a centre in the UAE. We are setting up our data centre as we speak today and we will go live in this market this year itself," Raghu Malthotra, division president for Middle East and North Africa at MastercCard, told Gulf News

"This centre will not just serve banks. The customers that will benefit from this can be anyone, from banks, merchants, acquirers, issuers, mobile companies and governments. It could be [companies] with large retail chains, which have their own [initiatives] such as their own loyalty programmes that require processing capability," he added.

Although the Middle East remains a cash-driven market with only about 10 per cent of transactions processed electronically, Malthotra and McCaul said there is a huge appetite for innovative payment solutions in the region.

"You have huge mobile and Internet penetration rates, so the consumer is quite digital in this part of the world. The reason they have not been able to convert [to cashless] is there is no infrastructure that [enables that shift]. And the processing centre will make that happen in a seamless and integrated way," Malhotra pointed out.

"There's so much innovation [being introduced or planned] here, but it's very hard work for issuers and acquirers to actually enable that innovation. That's where the processing centre comes in," added McCaul.

The company declined to disclose the amount of money it is investing into the facility and the number of employees it intends to hire. "You can say it's a multimillion dollar [undertaking]," said McCaul.

MasterCard currently operates processing centres in at least 24 locations around the world, including the United States, Turkey and Australia. A facility in a high-growth market like the US can easily account for around 700 to 800 employees.

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Source: Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)

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