Mastercard announced it has integrated IBM’s Watson technology into its platform to launch a subscription-based customer analytics offering to merchants in mid-2016.  Bravo to MasterCard.  It has always bewildered me that the major card networks haven’t effectively leveraged their position as the central clearing point for card and merchant transaction data to provide customer insights to merchants (especially smaller merchants who likely lack sophisticated analytics capabilities).  The platform will offer real-time customer and competitive insights.  MasterCard is emerging as the innovator among the big 4 card network players.  Merchants often perceive card acceptance to be an expensive necessity, but innovative merchant-centric products like this could begin to change that perception.  Could it be that the card networks are starting to realize that merchants are customers too?