MasterCard, echoing remarks made 16 hours earlier by Visa, is placing security at the heart of its emerging payments strategy.

"Safety and security's importance is second to none as the physical and digital worlds converge," said MasterCard CEO Ajay Banga during a recent conference call to discuss the Purchase, N.Y.-based card network's third quarter earnings.

MasterCard, Visa and American Express are working on standards that would replace card numbers with shorter digital tokens for mobile and online payments. Both MasterCard and Visa took part of their earnings calls to sell the benefits of tokenization from a user experience and security perspective while touting the long-standing security and anti-fraud records of their own networks.

"Safety and security is more than standards, you can also do it with the platform," Banga said, citing MasterCard’s new Fraud Rule Manager program for ATMs as an example. That program, introduced in April, has reduced ATM fraud by up to 70 percent in certain markets, the card network said.

"We can give insight to issuers about potential fraud threats that go beyond what they can see themselves," he said. 

Tokenization can protect smaller merchants who may not be able to afford security on a larger scale, Banga said. "It also allows for the least friction from a consumer point of view," he said.

MasterCard's other recent security moves include joining the Fast Identity Online Alliance (FIDO), a group that collaborates on new authentication technology such as biometrics.

MasterCard's DataCash subsidiary also has a partnership with Redecard that incorporates an e-commerce gateway and a fraud service in Brazil, Banga said. DataCash provides Redecard with a connection that enables multiple suppliers to access its payments platform, facilitating the connection between merchants, card-issuers and Redecard.

"That makes it easier for merchants to accept cards without having to sign up with multiple vendors," Banga said.

For the third quarter of 2013, MasterCard reported net income of $879 million, up 14% from a year earlier, and earnings per diluted share of $7.27, up 18% from 2012. Its revenue for the third quarter was $2.2 billion, a 16% increase over the same period in 2012.

MasterCard's profits have allowed it to invest in technology and other strategic initiatives, Banga said. The card network is planning to add marketing and customer experience tools to expand its offerings beyond payments.

MasterCard has made moves this year to increase the user base for its MasterPass digital wallet. It is also developing uses for wearable computing devices such as Google Glass, building technology designed to enable mobile transactions in brick and mortar stores, and is integrating its QkR mobile shopping application other MasterCard products. 

Additionally, the card network recently launched Simplify Commerce, a program that allows merchants to accept mobile and online payments. Simplify, which works with a number of payments brands, provides software development kits that allow developers support payments in a number of programming languages and operating systems.

"We are working with technology companies and merchants to create better consumer and merchant experiences and, at the same time, getting more safe and secure," Banga said.

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