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BARCELONA, SPAIN — Traveling with your MasterCard is about to get a lot simpler.

MasterCard and Syniverse announced yesterday that they are collaborating to provide several new mobile and payment services that will benefit mobile users who travel abroad. The companies made the announcement at the Mobile World Congress event.

The coolest new consumer-focused feature of this collaboration (currently in pilot phase) will allow consumers to opt-in to using location features on their mobile phones to validate their credit card transactions while traveling abroad. There’s nothing worse than having your credit card declined while you’re traveling just because the financial institution behind the card doesn’t know where you are.

It’s equally annoying for credit card users to find out their card number has been used illegally overseas.

This collaboration between Syniverse and MasterCard will hopefully eliminate both problems by giving financial institutions a new tool to support decisions on when to approve or decline a credit card transaction, enabling them to approve a transaction only when it occurs in the same country in which the user’s mobile phone is active.

Around 75 million mobile phone users travel outside their home country each month, but according to Syniverse, 70 percent of those people switch their mobile data function off when they arrive, presumably to avoid roaming charges. For this reason, MasterCard and Syniverse also plan to give Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) the ability to let opted-in users buy prepaid data packages directly on their mobile phones when they arrive in a new country.

“The next growth phase of mobile is through the expansion of the diverse players within the ecosystem,” said Syniverse president and CEO Jeff Gordon. “And Syniverse’s unique position in the ecosystem allows us to serve as the mobile bridge. We continue to grow our long tradition of commitment to mobile operators, and this collaboration with the world’s leading brands will build new opportunities, resulting in more powerful mobile experiences for end users, new revenue opportunities for mobile operators, and strengthened brand loyalty for all.”

MasterCard and Syniverse also plan to offer brands the ability to deliver targeted offers to opted-in users based upon the location of their mobile device, so that in the future, users may be able to get special location-based offers on their phones. Clearly, though, brands will need to craft these offers carefully and deliver them on an opt-in basis only in order to avoid rubbing consumers the wrong way.


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