Managing Global IT: Priceless

A cashless society may be light years away, but Rob Reeg knows that payment systems are changing at the speed of light. The president of Global Technology and Operations for MasterCard Worldwide is aware that there?s no substitute for agility, flexibility and forward thinking in today?s turbocharged business environment.

?It?s an exciting time, and this is a really exciting place to be,? he says. ?While much of industry is focused on cost containment, MasterCard is at the vanguard of technology and business.?

Reeg assumed the technology reins of MasterCard last May, after serving as the firm?s chief technology officer since 2005 and interim president of the IT division since January. He oversees operations in 210 countries and territories, including major processing centers in Brussels, Belgium; Sydney, Australia; and Chennai, India.

In 2007, the company handled more than 18.7 billion transactions valued at $2.3 trillion. The MasterCard network has the capacity to handle 140 million transactions per hour with a response time of 140 milliseconds and 99.999 percent network availability.

Yet, MasterCard has evolved into far more than a credit card and debit card transaction-processing behemoth. It now supports product purchases at ATMs and e-commerce transactions via the Web; incorporates radio-frequency identification (RFID) chips into cards so they can be used to make contactless payments via its patented PayPass technology; and has developed electronic payment systems for transactions via mobile devices, such as PDAs and phones.

?Our philosophy,? Reeg says, ?is that it shouldn?t matter where the transaction originates. We simply need to be able to process the transaction for the cardholder. Our tenet is to be agnostic at the point of interaction.?

That?s a simple enough premise but a remarkably complicated task. Managing one of the largest IT operations in the world requires vision, brainpower and muscle. Reeg, and MasterCard, must address and manage a spate of systems, technologies and issues, including virtualization, server consolidation, storage, remote access, security and green initiatives. It?s a task that Reeg is completely comfortable with?along with guiding MasterCard into the 21st century world of electronic payments.

?There are huge opportunities but equally huge challenges,? he points out. ?The world is changing quickly, and technology is at the core of successful business practices.?

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