Visa isn't the only credit card issuer moving fast on blockchain.
But while Visa is going it alone in releasing a B2B blockchain, MasterCard it seems is quietly developing a set of new blockchain APIs with more collaborative goals.
The credit card giant’s development site now features three APIs connected to its internal blockchain work, including offerings focused on smart contracts and payment settlement. The APIs were released by MasterCard Labs, its innovation outfit.
MasterCard blockchain lead Justin Pinkham said the company released its API platform last month in a bid to stoke interest among banks and merchant developers.
He told CoinDesk:
"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."
Pinkham went on to state that the company is continuing to pursue uses of the technology while at the same time advocating for collaborations that might apply to MasterCard's businesses.
"We believe that there is a role of blockchain in the future of commerce. This future needs to be developed in partnership with banks, merchants and industry participants," he continued.
The news is perhaps the most significant to date for MasterCard, which has criticized bitcoin (the longest-running public blockchain) in the past but expressed cautious enthusiasm about its underlying technology.
More in store
But with the launch of the APIs, MasterCard is beginning to push some of the work done by its internal teams out the door.
It won’t be the last, according to Pinkham, who said that the company is creating the foundation for blockchain tech that could focus on use cases including inter-bank payments and trade finance.
Applications focused on digital identity and the exchange of know-your-customer information are also being explored, according to Pinkham.
The work coincides with collaborative efforts between MasterCard and startups through its Start Path Global program, as well as the more than 30 blockchain-related patents Pinkham said the company has submitted to date.
Disclosure: MasterCard is an investor in CoinDesk's parent company, Digital Currency Group.