MasterCard Worldwide is planning to open up its software format, enabling third-party programmers to develop payments applications for its network. The company on May 25 said it would release open application programming interfaces for developers later this year.

“We feel this will unleash innovation within our industry, especially in the burgeoning areas of e-commerce and mobile payments,” Josh Peirez, MasterCard chief innovation officer, stated in a press release.

The card company says it has used the programming interfaces to develop applications for Apple Inc.’s iPhone. It uses the open interface tools to develop Easy Savings, which enables users to find merchants that offer rebates through MasterCard’s Easy Savings program, and ATM Hunter.

Besides the software tools, MasterCard plans to provide a developer forum to allow collaboration among coders, and reference guides and sample code.

“Our new Open API program and developer portal will strengthen MasterCard’s position ... and give us an even greater competitive advantage as the payments industry continues to evolve,” Garry Lyons, MasterCard group executive for research and development, stated in the release.

PayPal Inc., the payments unit of eBay Inc. of San Jose, Calif., opened its own software platform last year. The PayPal platform enables online-banking vendors to offer PayPal payments within their own systems.

Fidelity National Information Services Inc. links PayPal to its bill-pay system, and S1 Corp. incorporated PayPal funds transfers into its mobile-banking software.

More recently, PayPal has highlighted how developers have integrated its payment system into an online rental marketplace and to receive investments for iPhone software development.

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