Mastercard opening $510m cyber security centre in Vancouver

From left: Ajay Bhalla, president, Cyber and Intelligence Solutions, Mastercard; Ajay Banga, president and CEO, Mastercard; Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry; and Ian McKay, CEO, Invest in Canada | Submitted

What happened: Mastercard is expanding its presence in B.C. with the opening of a new R&D centre

Why it matters: The $510 million investment comes following a multimillion-dollar incentive from the federal government

Ottawa is putting up nearly $50 million to boost the presence of Mastercard Inc. in Vancouver with the launch of a $510 million cyber security centre.

The credit card company announced Thursday (January 23) that the West Coast city would be the home of its sixth global technology centre — one focused on developing technologies to thwart cyber attacks in the payments arena.

In a bid to entice the financial giant to B.C., the federal government dipped into its Strategic Innovation Fund to the tune of $49 million.

A February 2019 analysis from The Logic revealed just over half the fund’s recipients were foreign firms at the time the story was published.

“The Vancouver centre will help us meet the growing demand for technology solutions to reduce the cost of cyber-attacks, enable today’s connected devices to become tomorrow’s secure payment devices and address the growing vulnerabilities associated with the Internet of Things,” Mastercard CEO Ajay Banga said in a statement.

Mastercard’s new Intelligence and Cyber Centre will be based at The Exchange office tower on Howe Street, which counts Inc. (Nasdaq:AMZN) among its tenants.

The Mastercard office houses Vancouver-founded cyber security firm NuData Security Inc., which Mastercard acquired in 2017.

Mastercard said in a statement the new centre will be “creating and maintaining” a total of 380 jobs, while the federal government estimated the new sit would create 100 new co-op positions.

NuData already employs about 100 workers in its downtown office, leaving Mastercard to hire about 300 more workers to meet the needs of the cyber centre.

Jill Tipping, CEO of the B.C. Tech Association, told Business in Vancouver Mastercard was clearly enticed by access to talent and the city’s connections with key markets around the world.

“I’m thrilled that they’re recognizing Vancouver as a great place to launch, but it makes it even more important that we put the investment into supporting our local homegrown companies,” she said.

“We’re going to continue to be attractive to major multinationals making foreign direct investments and that’s a good thing — but only if we make the investments to ensure that we have a balanced tech ecosystem.”

Tipping added that one of the other benefits of bringing in a company like Mastercard will be its ability to cultivate local talent.

“When major multinationals come to town and set up shop tackling big global problems, one of the things they do is they basically provide learning and growth opportunities on how to tackle scale-up problems, how to run a global business [and] how things happen at the multinational level.”

Mastercard is the most recent international company to show an interest in Vancouver.

Earlier this week fintech Silicon Valley-based Tipalti Inc. announced it was opening an office in the city next month, while fellow California tech firm Grammarly Inc. opened a 3,000-square-foot site in Gastown last fall.