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Mastercard (MA) Acquires Ekata, Boosts Digital Identity Suite

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Mastercard Incorporated MA recently announced the acquisition of one of the leading providers of digital identity verification solutions named Ekata for $850 million. The latest move is intended to bolster Mastercard’s identity verification capabilities to protect merchants and consumers from possible frauds.

Subject to fulfillment of customary closing conditions, the transaction is likely to be completed within the following six months. It is expected to be dilutive to Mastercard’s business for a maximum tenure of 24 months.

The latest buyout involves integration of an array of identity verification services, machine learning technology and global expertise of Ekata with the fraud prevention and digital identity programs of Mastercard. In an era of growing digital economy, the extensive identity services offered by both the companies are likely to provide a source of relief for both businesses and consumers.

On the one hand, merchants will be equipped with an in-depth knowledge about customers and consequently make real-time informed decisions on matters encompassing account openings or detecting any possible fraud prior to approving a payment transaction. On the other hand, customers will be able to conduct safer and secured online transactions.

Shares of this Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) company have gained 55.8% in a year compared with the industry’s rally of 38.8%. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

Enhanced Digital Identity Services: Need of the Hour

One of the most significant trends due to the COVID-19 pandemic has been growing inclination of customers toward digital payments. With people restricted within their homes due to lockdowns and strict social distancing measures, widespread usage of digital payments, launch of advanced technologies, elevated Internet usage and increased smartphone shipments spurred growth of the global e-commerce market. Notably, the market is anticipated to witness a CAGR of 14.7% over the 2020-2027 period, per a U.S.-based market research and consulting firm.

However, the risk of frauds has increased as well. As companies are making use of enhanced technologies for upgrading their digital channels, fraudsters have also been coming up with newer and complex methods to launch attacks at businesses and misuse the sensitive information of customers.

As a result, it is of utmost importance for digital payment companies to construct multiple layers of fraud defense and assure customers of seamless as well as secured digital transactions.

Moreover, the recent move reinforces Mastercard’s efforts to enhance its suite of digital identity services, as confidence and trust at both ends of an online transaction seems to be the need of the hour. It had unveiled a framework two years back, which laid emphasis on forming alliances with leading technology partners to launch digital identity solutions and build a sound operational digital identity infrastructure. As offering safe and secure data practices remains the priority for both companies, Ekata seems to be an apt fit for Mastercard’s digital identity portfolio.

Another payment processor namely Visa Inc. V launched the Advanced Identity Score last year to minimize digital identity frauds. Also, payment service providers such as American Express Company AXP and PayPal Holdings, Inc. PYPL came up with digital tools or made investments to enhance their digital identity capabilities. While an unit of American Express named Accertify launched an API-based solution for controlling fraudulent online account openings and account takeovers, PayPal made substantial investments to use blockchain technology for boosting digital identity capabilities.

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