Title: Group Executive for Innovative Platforms

Company: MasterCard

Latest innovation: Greater user spending controls

Josh Peirez's first year as MasterCard's group executive for innovative platforms has been spent championing payments advancements that make users champions of their own spending destiny, a move that's well tuned to a marketplace that's jittery about debt.

"When I was focused on public policy [in an earlier MasterCard position], I got to see firsthand the discussion about what consumers were looking for," says Peirez, adding he found that consumers are interested in being an engaged partner with their financial institution on issues such as spend management and fraud prevention. "The innovations that we've worked on bring consumers into the system. Consumers are being brought into parts of the payment operation that have been reserved for banks historically."

Peirez has managed the deployment of several products, including MoneySend - a person-to-person payment platform allowing consumers to send money to each other via mobile phones by signing up for traditional or virtual prepaid accounts; mobile payments platforms such as the Blaze Mobile MasterCard PayPass sticker; and inControl - which allows corporate and consumer card users to set parameters on spending.

The thread that binds these recent payment products together is they offer consumers greater responsibility for managing their finances and payments transactions and provide an automated venue that includes interactive tools. inControl, which has attracted the business of RBS and Citigroup, allows transactions to be routed through funding sources at authorization time and a one-time use number feature permitting authorization, spending limits and usability controls that can be set on a transaction-by-transaction basis.

Developed through a partnership (and later purchase of) Orbiscom, inControl is MasterCard's play to drive the re-imagining of cards as a full-fledged financial management tool, but Peirez and his team will hardly be alone in the race. Other institutions are also pursuing card spend controls, including Chase's Blueprint. Blueprint allows users to decide which expenses they want to pay in fill each month and set those aide to avoid interest, mange larger purchases to setting up monthly payment schedules, develop a plan to pay down current balances and permit users to track spending online be category at all times - instead of the customary once per year.

"There are a lot of fast followers in the marketplace," says Ron Shevlin, a senior analyst at Aite Group. Shevlin says platforms such as inControl are also helpful for card issuers from a public perception standpoint.

"Issuers are rolling out tools that say 'we're here to help,' and part of it is to their benefit if they can keep defaults down," he says, adding inControl also positions MasterCard well for further deployment of end user functionality. "I wouldn't be surprised to see them use it not as a standalone, but a platform upon which to build more tools and capabilities."

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