Cloud Data Accessibility Informs Value-Oriented Business Activities

Data is the driving force behind key strategic decisions for any business, but more often than not, businesses have a tough time turning the wealth of data and insights they have into something actionable and tangible. How can cloud data help?

Through their partnership, Mastercard and Amazon Web Services (AWS) are looking to equip organizations with the most up-to-date location and spending insights to make informed and strategic business decisions.

“Mastercard has a wide reach across geographies that can provide powerful insights for businesses across industries and regions,” said Paul Chang, Principal of Payments at Amazon Web Services (AWS). “Through the Mastercard and AWS Data Exchange partnership, we can collaboratively provide meaningful insights and solutions to businesses across markets and industries to help them tackle their own unique challenges.”

When we think about our Data & Services business at Mastercard, we focus on helping our customers make smarter decisions that result in better outcomes for everyone,” added Stuart Finkelstein, Executive Vice President at Mastercard Data & Services. “Our collaboration allows us to improve our reach with the simplicity of access and helps us drive scale by getting these powerful tools into the hands of more customers.”

Both companies delved into their partnership and why it’s so important in a recent PaymentsJournal podcast. Finkelstein, Chang, and Marco Salazar, Director of Technology and Infrastructure at Mercator Advisory Group, also spoke about how two offerings — Mastercard SpendingPulse™ and Mastercard Places — are critical solutions for organizations looking to stay ahead of competitors.



The Benefits of AWS Data Exchange

Through AWS Data Exchange, customers can locate, subscribe, and use third-party data to supplement their own internal data, thereby enhancing their decision-making.

According to Chang, data subscribers expressed the need to locate and use data within the cloud, as more are being generated and stored. “They wanted it to be as easy as it is to shop online today so that their team can focus on producing differentiated products and spend time on value-added activities rather than discovering data, maintaining infrastructure, or managing revisions,” he said.

“As a subscriber, you can reduce time to find and source data from months to hours with minimal changes to existing operations,” Chang added. “AWS Data Exchange makes managing data subscriptions easier by consolidating contracts, billing, and payments in one place.”

Meanwhile, data providers are also seeing the benefits, particularly in reaching a broader set of customers. “A data provider can publish data simultaneously to all its customers and spend more time growing their business rather than managing the logistics,” said Chang.

Harnessing the Power of Data-Driven Insights

Both Mastercard and AWS saw the challenges organizations face in regard to data — particularly that many weren’t sure what to do with the trove of information they have or if it’s accurate.

“Mastercard SpendingPulse is a macroeconomic indicator of retail sales, which measures in-store and online retail sales and includes all forms of payment,” said Finkelstein. “It utilizes anonymized aggregated sales activity taken directly from the Mastercard Payments Network and is combined with survey-based estimates for other types of payments such as cash and check in order to answer key business questions for our customers.”

“For instance, customers may use this to gain a competitive perspective that allows them to understand their market share and their competitive positioning,” Finkelstein continued. “It gives them timely information that allows them to adapt and react quickly to changing sales trends. This understanding of trends opens up data-driven opportunities as they examine consumer purchasing habits and perform forecasts that help them identify and capitalize on untapped potential.”

Mastercard Places offers a comprehensive view of all merchant locations that accept Mastercard as payment both online and in-store. “Places are captured from aggregated anonymized transaction data that matches third-party location data listings,” said Finkelstein. “Using Places, our customers can understand changes to merchants over time and what payment activities each location supports — and how the merchant landscape continues to evolve.”

A Focus on Ethical Practices

With Mastercard’s immense reach worldwide — amassing a staggering amount of data — it’s sitting on a gold mine of information, prompting the need for ethical policies for its use.

“Payments networks have multiple touch points from both a consumer and merchant standpoint,” said Salazar. “This provides access to a rich set of data that powers and streamlines a plethora of products and experiences.”

“This has to be done with a fine balance,” he continued. “It has to be focused on ethical access and use of the data that accounts for privacy from both sides.”

“The network itself and the data that we have is tremendously important,” added Finkelstein. Last year, Mastercard processed $7.7 trillion in gross dollar volume and processed 112 billion transactions from about 3 billion cards across 200 countries and territories. The use of all that data and the power that it brings has to be combined with our ethical practices.”

When it comes to ethical practices, the focus is on security and privacy, transparency, and control. With accountability, the solutions ensure that the individual’s interest is front and center. The result is for the data analytics to promote inclusive, comprehensive, and equitable behaviors.

“We always have integrity as we look to innovate consistently to ensure the individual benefits from the use of their data through better experiences,” said Finkelstein. “The combination of our powerful data and ethical use practices, we believe, is what makes our data so powerful in our solutions.”

How Customers Are Using SpendingPulse and Places

Leading organizations use Mastercard SpendingPulse and Places to enhance their day-to-day decision-making. For example, a drugstore chain wanted to measure performance in markets by taking into account the effects of macroeconomic trends. “Using SpendingPulse insights, they were able to benchmark how they performed in those particular markets compared to the industry as a whole,” said Finkelstein. “They also understood the channel spending trends.”

“They found that they underperformed in higher density areas, where the shift to online was more pronounced and in-store shopping was declining,” he added. “Taking all of this into account, they developed a deep understanding of how they performed, and completely changed their future investment strategy as a result.”

In another example, a grocer wanted to expand and open new locations. It needed to know where its competitors were located, as well as the shopping behaviors of consumers in that area. Using the Mastercard Places solution, the grocer gained an understanding of potential competitor merchants as well as their locations, along with an indicator of their popularity among consumers.

“The grocer was able to leverage this information to pinpoint the ideal location for a new store,” said Finkelstein. “And they were able to create a road map for future growth without cannibalizing their own footprint or entering over-saturated markets.”

Looking Ahead: Key Trends This Holiday Season

According to Mastercard SpendingPulse, there are three key trends to expect this holiday season. The first is that many consumers will start their holiday shopping earlier this year, seeking out bargains as the cost of everyday essentials continues to grow.

Key promotional days, including Black Friday, will make a strong return this year, as will Christmas Eve, which falls on a Saturday and is slated to be one of the biggest days for retailers.

Finally, in-store experiences will be in full force. More brick-and-mortar stores are offering in-store experiences to get shoppers in the door.

For more information on the Mastercard SpendingPulse and Places solutions, follow this link.

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