If the trial proves to be a success, consumer marketing and outreach to merchants will be ramped up, says MasterCard Vice President Tatiana Mulry. The trial will be monitored and results determined in about three months, she says.
To date, there has been little direct-to-consumer advertising. An ad in USA Today this week announced the launch of MasterCard Nearby. MasterCard initially plans to reach out to travelers.
A typical usage scenario? Say you've traveled to a new city and need shampoo, a restaurant recommendation and cash. Using your Web-enabled cell phone, you log into a Web site where you can search for the nearest store, get a restaurant recommendation and find ATM locales. Think of it as a next-generation Yellow Pages. Not only does it give you the listing, but by setting preferences, the results of each search with directions will be text-messaged to your phone. Users can also check for special offers from merchants. Say you decide to buy a new watch. Check out MCNearby.com for a special offer, present a promotion code to the merchant, and voila--you've just gotten $100 off that new timepiece.
Local search and content provider Go2 Directory Services in Irvine, Calif., supplies the technology. The trial is open to any MasterCard cardholder who registers by calling a toll-free number or online MCNearby.com.