August 17, 2010

New York-based Citi will be the first U.S. bank to deploy MasterCard's inControl service to consumers, adding new functionality for cardholders by the end of this year. The new service will give cardholders the ability to set spending limits, set budgets and rules for when and how their card can be used, and set up realtime SMS and email alerts based on spending activity.

Michael Fiore, MasterCard Group Head, Emerging Payments, says the new product was developed with consumers in mind. Research conducted by MasterCard last year indicated 49 percent of consumers believe such a budgeting tool would help them manage spending, while 51 percent said that type of product enhances their feeling of safety and security in making card payments.

MasterCard's been very active in researching the needs of consumers not only in the US, but around the world," Fiore says. "There's been a lot of demand for budgeting and security. What we found is that there's really a desire that cardholders would use this if they had it."

More importantly, Fiore says, research showed that customers would be more likely to choose their primary card over other options.

"The idea is that they would stop using alternative forms of payment and use their cards more if they have this," he says.

Customers will be able to set up the service through their online banking or by calling their bank's customer service, Fiore said, with a mobile app slated for next year. Various inControl options will enable text or email alerts, help users track spending or delegate when a card can be used and at what hours. When used at a family level, Fiore says, those granular controls can be used to delegate levels of control and form factors on family members' cards.

"They have the ability to completely customize it based on what they want," he says.

While Citi is the first bank to commit to rolling out MasterCard's inControl service this year, Barclaycard plans to provide the service to its UK customers in 2010.