Okay, so the fact that MasterCard is hosting a series of hackathons might not seem terribly exciting — even if we grant that the name Masters of Code is kind clever, it seems like every big company is going after the startup/developer crowd with a hackathon of its own.
What is impressive, however, is the scale of MasterCard’s efforts. Throughout the course of the year, the company plans to hold 14 events in 11 countries. To organize them, it’s partnering with AngelHack — Chief Marketing Officer Brian Collins said it’s “one of the largest partnerships AngelHack is working on to date.”
So far, MasterCard has held events in Sydney, Australia; Hong Kong; Singapore; Sao Paolo, Brazil; and Tel Aviv, Israel. Next up: Mexico City and San Francisco in August. Mario Shiliashki, MasterCard’s senior vice president of its open API, and Chief Developer Evangelist Sebastien Taveau are traveling to each hackathon (which sounds a little tiring, to be honest).
Shiliashki said this is MasterCard’s first “standalone hackathon series,” and Taveau added that’s it’s a global competition, Taveau because, “We are looking at what will be the next generation of commerce applications … That new generation can come from anywhere in the world.”
The overall winner will receive $100,000 and be admitted into MasterCard’s Start Path accelerator. There are prizes for the runners up too, and even if they don’t turn into real products, they help MasterCard get the word about its APIs.
For example, the most recent winner was WEBusking in Tel Aviv (pictured above), which used MasterCard’s Simplify Commerce API to build an online platform for busking — namely, for performing and receiving small payments from your users.
Shiliashki said the hackathons also help MasterCard explore a future where it’s more than just a card company.
“As we now move into this world of connected devices, we firmly believe that the MasterCard platforms and products are much more broadly applicable,” he said. “Any connected device has the potential to be a commerce device.”