MasterCard challenges Canadian developer community to build the next payments revolution at Masters of Code


MasterCard’s Masters of Code is taking over Montreal this September 26th and 27th. The two-day event brings together over 100 coders from across Canada to build the next big thing in mobile payments. We caught up with Nicolas Dinh, MasterCard Canada’s VP Mobile Payments, to understand how MasterCard Canada is transforming into a tech company in addition to a payments company, and why the weekend hackathon is important for its future.

In previous years, MasterCard Canada hosted the MasterCard N>XT developer challenge in Toronto. Why the change in brand to the global Masters of Code?

MasterCard N>XT created a platform for Canadian developers to engage in and build a community. Now with our global hackathon series Masters of Code, MasterCard is connecting with the developer community around the world, such as Hong Kong, Australia, Singapore, Sao Paulo, Tel Aviv and Mexico City. Canada’s best and brightest will now have a chance to compete on the global stage by joining other winning regional teams and compete in the Grand Finale Masters of Code Hackathon in Silicon Valley.

There has been an increased emphasis on coding, technology, and entrepreneurship from MasterCard over the last few years. What are you hoping to see participants create during the Masters of Code event?

MasterCard, as a technology company, realized the importance of an open API strategy. Previously, a great deal of our technology was contained within the walls of MasterCard. With an open API strategy, we exposing our APIs to third party developers, and by doing so we are fostering an environment of innovation and collaboration.

The other piece is that there has been a lot of interest when it comes to payment innovation. If you look at the credit card industry over the past 50 years, in terms of innovation, it’s relatively static. People today are still using a piece of plastic with a card number. That is where we are today. With wearables, there is an opportunity for developers and entrepreneurs to create a better experience, a better shopping experience, and a better payment experience with these new technologies.

With MasterCard, obviously there is great interest for us. We realize that us alone we cannot drive this innovation without collaboration without the help from third party developers. There is a greater chance of innovation and opportunity to work with people and leverage MasterCard to create new technology that can be applied into everyday life.

What are your thoughts of the adoption rate of mobile payments in Canada?

We have seen consistent growth, not explosive growth. There is a blurring of lines between online commerce and offline, brick and mortar commerce. We are seeing now with mobility that people are making a mobile payment within an app but actually not making a payment with a physical card. Payment innovation associated to apps like Uber are showing that people are willing to engage in different ways.

Nicolas with the winner of the 2014 MasterCard N>XT event
Nicolas with 2014 MasterCard N>XT winner Team ChangeRoom
This past July, MasterCard made a formal declaration of its commitment to developers, and the payments and e-commerce ecosystem. Can you tell us more about that?

We made a formal declaration to support developers and entrepreneurs to give them access to APIs to take their idea and commercialize it. It’s a commitment that MasterCard made to foster innovation and we want people to think about MasterCard when they think of ‘who in the payment space is on the cutting edge of technology?’ Our declaration of developer support is one way to accomplish this.

What should developers expect from Masters of Code?

We have very clear needs and expectations for developers. This time around what we are asking the developers to do is solve everyday needs, such as transportation and education. We previously had our events in Toronto, but this time around we are hosting it in Montreal, which is a great city that has a large student population, developer community, and video game development community. All this talent will create the next great innovation in digital commerce.

We also feel that because this is a global event, that the folks who will be competing to win the event will have an opportunity to compete against developers from other markets. This gives a chance to compare skills from other countries.

How do you think Canadian developers stack up against the rest of the world?

We have an education system that is world class. We have, in Canada, some of the top developers and some very interesting technology innovation in wearables, video game development, and we believe the winner of the Masters of Code event in Montreal will bring something compelling to Silicon Valley in December.

Masters of Code Twitter Chat Details:

To help MasterCard with its commitment to the developer community, BetaKit will be holding a Twitter Chat on September 17th with Nicolas, along with our friends at LightHouse Labs and The Working Group (TWG). The hour-long chat will focus on answering questions about coding, design, and specifically, how to master a hackathon.


Those interested in learning more about the Masters of Code event can do so here.


Ian Hardy

Ian is publisher at MobileSyrup. He's been quietly creating and building things for years and is completely addicted to Tim Hortons.

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