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This week, MasterCard announced they will open APIs to third party software developers around the world to “create a new wave of e-commerce and mobile payment applications.”

Setting aside the broadest impact of the announcement and focusing strictly on the mobile perspective, the announcement caused some speculation as to what specifically MasterCard had in mind.Is there some area within mobile Mastercard is keen on?Some possibilities:

Direct relationships with mobile app developers. Perhaps to enable speedy in app purchases, upgrades, subscriptions, etc.

Pay by mobile online. Merchants or others seeking payment options online develop option for consumers to enter only their mobile number after initial registration to trigger a purchase linked to a MasterCard.Potential convenience to consumer and very solid way to provide multi-authentication and limit fraud.

Publicly, they are saying the API initiative is not driven by specific mobile opportunities.After speaking with Josh Peirez, the Chief Innovation Officer MasterCard Worldwide, it appears Mastercard is primarily looking at the API initiative as a preemptive move to support creativity, and it’s less about any specific mobile initiative.Peirez sees an increasing melding of the physical and digital marketplace.He says he isn’t sure what the best or biggest usage of the Mastercard APIs will be, but he does know MasterCard doesn’t want to miss the opportunity to tap a growing digital payment play.

Peirez went on to say that the compelling proposition for MasterCard around mobile is that opposed to a plastic card, mobile really opens the door to a broad range of multiple services, because a plastic card is dumb and in relative terms a mobile is smart.