MasterCard Cashes in on Web Services

MasterCard finds a better way to deliver ATM location information using MapInfo's Envinsa.

Mastercard International Inc.s business is based on a guarantee that all its cardholders will have access to cash anywhere in the world.

To fulfill that promise, the payment system, based in Purchase, N.Y., deployed a Web-services-based ATM location service that lets cardholders find ATMs in 210 countries and territories, regardless of whether theyre using a phone, the Internet or a wireless device.

That decision in 2003 proved good for the companys bottom line as well: Deploying a Web-services-based platform to integrate location data with existing enterprise applications has allowed MasterCard to offer services that provide additional opportunities for customers to use their credit cards.

The ATM locator alone generated a return on investment estimated at more than 1,152 percent in the first six months, according to John Meister, vice president of IS development at MasterCard, in St. Louis, Mo.

"MasterCard takes money and spends it on certain things that will improve the brand or improve acceptance of the brand," Meister said. "Switching to this new ATM location platform has provided significant new revenue opportunities for us."

MasterCard is the second-largest payment system in the United States, and 25,000 member banks worldwide subscribe to it. The company, which reported $385 million in revenue in 2003, owns the Cirrus ATM network—one of the worlds largest, with 900,000 ATMs in 120 countries.

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The companys MasterCard and Maestro credit and debit cards are accepted at 22 million locations in 210 countries and territories.

This global presence is one reason MasterCard launched a toll-free number in the 1990s that allows cardholders to enter their phone numbers to locate the nearest Cirrus ATM. The software that powered this telephone-based, ATM location service was written in-house.

In 1997, MasterCard decided to expand its ATM locator service by bringing it online to The company outsourced its online ATM locator to Inc., of Mountville, Pa. Although member banks helped to cover the costs, MasterCard was spending more than $400,000 annually to keep it going, according to Meister.

Because the company was relying on two systems to provide location services, cardholders who logged in sometimes received different directions than did cardholders who called in. On top of that, the separate databases for the Web site and the phone service—updated twice a week—often provided results that werent accurate: Some users were directed to ATMs that no longer existed. And when cardholders used the telephone systems, they were often provided with ATM locations that were far from their location—or they received no results at all.

Two years ago, Meister decided to merge the two ATM location systems and bring everything in-house. By using one system to push geographic services to multiple platforms, Meister hoped to increase accuracy while allowing MasterCard to cut costs and retain more control over its data warehouses.

Meister decided the company needed a platform that could support multiple operating systems. And because he eventually wanted to move completely to Web services, he also wanted something that would be flexible enough to support different methods of deployment.

Next page: Moving to Web services.