How to power a digital renaissance in retail

June 11, 2024 | By Chiro Aikat

We can imagine a not-too-distant future in which you walk into a physical store and — if you opt into this experience — it’s personalized just for you. 

A sales associate already understands your style, likes and dislikes. The shelves offer up real-time information on digital displays. Checkout isn’t really checkout — you just leave and your phone or smartwatch handles the rest.

This scene — which we shared at Mastercard Connections 2024, our marquee customer event in North America — is part of our big-sky vision for the future of retail. That future will mesh our digital and physical worlds together even more, let people shop in new ways and bring AI smarts into more places. It’s retail that’s smarter, safer and more personalized.

Mastercard is at the forefront of making these innovations a reality, working to expand the digital economy, create new payments solutions and offer a best-in-class suite of cybersecurity tools to protect people and businesses.

And we plan to achieve our vision of a more flexible, more seamless commerce experience for everyone by working closely with our partners across the world and at Connections. That includes retailers, fintechs, financial institutions and so many others that make retail happen every day. That’s what our conference is all about.

And achieving this vision, with all our partners, is what our conference is all about.

Retail renaissance 

The retail world has changed more in the past decade than perhaps any other time in modern history. Shopping now includes biometric checkout, contactless checkout and even grab-and-go checkout ... where you just skip the checkout line entirely.

Underlying all the tech changes in retail are the changes in consumer behaviors and expectations. People want things faster and right at their fingertips.

Mastercard has been deploying new products and services to meet these expectations and offer up seamless, intelligent and interactive shopping at home, in stores and online.

We see the future of retail as being shaped by five key attributes identified in the latest edition of Mastercard Signals, our digital magazine that takes deep dives into the latest in tech: 

  • Digitized stores: Data overlays are turning physical stores into intelligent, interactive environments, enhancing in-store shopping.
  • Beyond the screen: Virtual reality and augmented reality are bringing the experience of in-store shopping into people’s homes.
  • Conversational commerce: AI and communication technologies are enabling continuous, personalized dialogue between customers and brands.
  • Hyper-personalized experiences: Advanced data analytics are allowing retailers to get deeper insights into consumer preferences and behaviors.
  • Fashion forward: Fashion, beauty and apparel brands are pioneering experiential shopping using innovative, immersive experiences.

Personalized. Contextual. Responsive. That’s what all these technologies and experiences are driving at to make the experience for shoppers exactly what they want. That benefits consumers while also benefiting retailers and their sales, too.

More on the Renaissance in Retail can be found in the June 2024 edition of Mastercard Signals here.

Personalized touch with AI solutions

And, speaking of personalized, we think the era of one size fits all is over. One size fits … one. New tech ensures we don’t have to settle.

People expect more personalization in online retail, online banking and the shopping deals they get. Mastercard’s newest digital tools — like our Shopping Muse personalization engine — meet those expectations, using data analytics, gen AI and our global network to help people find what they need faster and more easily than ever before.

This dawn of an internet curated and customized just for you is drawing more people online. According to Mastercard SpendingPulse, which measures in-store and online retail sales across all forms of payment, U.S. e-commerce sales in May grew 7.8% higher, showing accelerated growth from the year before.

One-click checkout is coming

Another area ripe for a makeover is e-commerce checkout. In stores, we can swipe, dip or tap. At home, it’s often fumble, squint and peck as we pull out our wallets and manually enter our card information. It’s annoying and time-consuming. 

That’s why starting in 2030 in Europe, we’re eliminating manual card entry for online purchases. Punching in those numbers is simply not necessary anymore thanks to tokenization, which replaces card numbers with randomly generated ones, so your actual card information is never transmitted or stored by a merchant, making it a safer and more streamlined experience for the consumer. It also cuts down on the security burden on merchants and banks and boosts approval rates. 

And it requires no effort on the part of the consumer — tokenization is enabled by the issuing bank. Combined with Click to Pay, our online checkout service, and payment passkeys, which harness the ease of biometrics to authenticate users, this will create a one-click checkout as intuitive as a tap.

AI-enhanced cybersecurity

All these smart features and ideas are great, but they’re at risk without rock-solid cybersecurity built around them.

We know that building trust in new technologies and digital commerce starts and ends with protecting people’s data and staying transparent with users.

That’s why Mastercard keeps making big investments in AI-powered security tools. Mastercard SafetyNet, just one of our many cybersecurity tools, prevented more than $20 billion in potential customer fraud losses and cybercrime on our network in 2023 alone.

We recently announced new advances in our gen AI cyber technology that enable us to double the speed we can discover compromised cards. That helps banks quickly block those cards, saving consumers headaches.

Doubling down on our focus on partnership, Mastercard a few weeks ago launched its new European Cyber Resilience Centre in Waterloo, Belgium. That space joins our Global Intelligence and Cyber Centre of Excellence in Vancouver, British Columbia, which we opened in 2022. Both centers are great places to convene our brightest minds in cyber, so they can team up for exercises, meetings and seminars with government officials, customers and partners so we can learn from each other and keep strengthening our cybersecurity walls.

Together, with our partners and innovators at Mastercard Connections 2024, we are setting new standards for digital commerce. Our pioneering technologies, deep integration of AI, advanced cybersecurity measures and innovations in tokenization are transforming shopping into an experience that is not only smarter, more connected and secure, but also highly responsive to every consumer's needs.

Media Contact: Raul Lopez, 

Photo of Chiro Aikat
Chiro Aikat, Co-president, U.S.