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MasterCard Joins Visa in Launching APIs for Blockchain

Credit card giant MasterCard has announced the launch of new blockchain APIs, as it becomes the latest major international company to experiment with blockchain technology.

Developed by the company’s innovation arm, MasterCard Labs, the move is designed to foster a range of new practical uses for blockchain, including payment tracking and settlement and facilitating smart contracts.

The move comes shortly after similar high profile launches from Visa, who released their own blockchain for business users in October.

Unlike the Visa platform, which is designed to help businesses tracking and settling business to business payments across the Visa payment infrastructure, the MasterCard technology has been released as a series of APIs, making it easier to integrate the blockchain service across different applications.

According to the lead developer of blockchain technology at MasterCard, Justin Pinkham, the launch has been designed with collaboration and experimentation in mind, as the technology continues to develop new practical and commercial applications.

"This is part of our initiative to publish experimental APIs from MasterCard Labs and give developers the chance to work on emerging technologies that haven't yet been commercialized by us."

The new APIs look unlikely to be the last from MasterCard, as it invited third party banks and developers to utilize their APIs in a number of applications.

The company is already developing new applications and use cases for blockchain technology within its own organization, as well as opening up the technology to third party developers. It is hoped that by taking a collaborative, crowd sourcing approach, MasterCard can remain at the forefront of blockchain technology as it continues to develop.

The company has already filed over 30 patents for developments surrounding blockchain tech, which could include trade and commercial finance as well as intra-bank transactions.

Blockchain is the central technology underpinning Bitcoin, a ledger with records transactions from the point of source to destination in a secure, anonymous, decentralized way. An increasingly hot topic for big business, as well as for Bitcoin users, analysts predict a number of future applications for blockchain tech across industry.

With Visa and MasterCard now firmly committed to the technology, in addition to the countless VC-backed startups developing blockchain and Bitcoin-like technologies, it is surely only a matter of time before it becomes an even more central component of commercial technology.

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