Small business has much more data than they realize. Aggregators like MasterCard make it easier to use transaction data with IBM Watson

MasterCard has partnered with IBM to give small to medium merchants access to big data analytics.

The payments giant has integrated IBM Watson Analytics into its platform, along with its own anonymised transaction data gathered through MasterCard Advisors Local Market Intelligence (LMI), to bring artificial intelligence (AI) to its payments platform.

“There is an increasing wealth of data today that merchants can leverage to better understand their market and consumers,” MasterCard Advisors senior vice president Eric Schneider said. “However, smaller merchants often don’t have the resources to maximise the insights. That’s the value of this platform turning big data into smarter data that is easily accessible and actionable.”

The product will be available via subscription for merchants who accept MasterCard in mid-2016 and according to MasterCard, this will see access to real-time, analytics-based market insights on revenue, market share, customer demographics, and competitors in both a specific location as well as across multiple locations.

MasterCard said its Advisors’ LMI focuses on business performance, customer behaviour, and competitive standing, providing SMBs with insights that help drive some of the most important decisions a business can make about operations, marketing, and personnel.

Additionally, the IBM Watson Analytics data discovery tool will provide automatic insights that MasterCard said will enable the user to discover new patterns in their data such as customer buying and behaviour trends.

“We are thrilled to be working hand in hand with MasterCard to help smaller merchants understand their business and competition better, and increase the strength and value of their customer relationships,” said Yashesh Kampani, IBM ASEAN Financial Services Sector Leader.

“Through this new service, merchants will discover just how easy leveraging big data can actually be with the analytical tools that IBM and MasterCard are making available.”

Citing its latest research, MasterCard said that more than seven out of 10 smaller businesses in the Asia-Pacific region are expecting higher business costs in 2016.

MasterCard said the research was based on a survey completed in December last year on 2,806 SME owners, co-owners, or key decision makers across Australia, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore, with approximately 400 survey participants per market.

“With this enhanced analytical platform powered by MasterCard Advisors and IBM, merchants will hence be better equipped to make informed decisions that lower costs based on a deeper knowledge of their business’ financial strengths and pitfalls,” the company said in a statement.

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