New Member Spotlight: Mastercard

Monday 30th October 2017

Ann Cairns, President International, Mastercard Inc

As we continue to diversify our membership to include companies that seek to add value to women, this month GBA welcomes Mastercard Inc to the GBA. Mastercard is one of the largest payment technology companies in the world, processing more than 56 billion transactions a year in more than 210 countries, including many with GBA bank members. Some of our members have added incredible benefits tailored to the Women’s Market to their cards with great success. The win-win is obvious and in this interview, Ann Cairns, President International, spoke with the Global Banking Alliance for Women about full financial inclusion of women globally, the role that Mastercard is playing in supporting women and their decision to join GBA.

GBA: All our readers will be familiar with Mastercard’s credit, debit and prepaid cards as either consumers or as issuing bankers, but many will have little knowledge of the company’s focus on innovation. Can you paint a picture of Mastercard’s role in using technology to make payments safer, simpler and smarter?

Ann Cairns: The world around us is changing fast – becoming more connected. All of us rely on our devices for an increasing number of products, services and solutions. That is why Mastercard is working to ensure that the way people pay and move money keeps pace with innovation. Over the past 50 years we have built the world’s leading operating system for payments, and now we are able to innovate on that to build the platforms and products that will enhance the payment experience while making security the cornerstone of our products and solutions.

By leveraging our global infrastructure, we are able to deliver solutions that matter wherever you are in the world. From Masterpass QR in Africa and India, which enables safe and simple payments via a mobile and QR code solution, to the incredible growth of contactless, which is making it easier to move quickly around some of the world’s cities, Mastercard aims to be at the forefront of how we better leverage technology to make life easier. The work we are doing with cities is a great example of this. We now closely partner with over 100 city travel networks – the ferries in Sydney, the transit system in Medellín, Columbia, and the tube in London, to name a few – and through this we are making it safer and simpler for women to travel the smart cities of the world.

GBA: As President of International Markets, you have led the company’s expansion outside of North America into new customer segments. Why has Mastercard made the strategic decision to become the card of choice for women worldwide?

AC: There are so many reasons why understanding how to better serve women with technology and payments products not only makes sense but makes business sense. Firstly, the majority of purchasing decisions are made by women. Of course what they are purchasing and how they are buying is different as you move around the world, but the underlying principle is that we need to better serve women as consumers, decision makers, shoppers, business owners and home makers. So the first step is understanding the data and the demand, working with our network of partners around the world to dig into what’s needed and create solutions that matter to women, and drive the local and global economy.

I feel I have a responsibility to ensure that women have the products and solutions that map to their lives – including them into the financial system and providing them with the technology and opportunity to grow their businesses, manage their lives and address the unique issues and opportunities they encounter. From the small business owners and entrepreneurs, to the home makers and primary care givers, all of the phenomenal women around the world have clear understanding of how technology can make their lives easier, and that also extends to the way they pay or get paid. And that’s a great opportunity for all of us.

GBA: When GBA banks segment the Women’s Market, they generally segment into Corporate (with a widespread focus on women-owned/led SMEs) and consumer (mass, professional, high net worth). The primary focus is on the underbanked, but some also have strategies for the unbanked. How is Mastercard segmenting the Women’s Market?

AC: As with any audience, there are many ways you can segment. The important thing is that you understand that audience and build the products and solutions that work for them. The way women business owners operate and the products they need are different in different parts of the world. Mastercard operates across over 210 countries and has on-the-ground presence in an ever-increasing number to ensure we leverage our global network and deliver relevant meaningful solutions. Through our regional approach to business and understanding our audiences we can look at what is needed.

We have some great examples of ways we have worked to segment the market and address issues, like 2KUZE a digital platform that connects smallholder farmers, agents, buyers and banks in East Africa. 2KUZE, which in Swahili means “Let’s grow together,” enables farmers – an increasing number of whom are women – to buy, sell and receive payments for agricultural goods via their feature phones. The platform brings the benefits and security of mobile commerce and payments to farmers in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.

The critical element is using technology, partnership and local insights to create meaningful solutions. 

GBA: GBA defines full financial inclusion of women as not just having access to finance but also having access to information, education, networking – including supply chains – and recognition. How does Mastercard look at full financial inclusion of women?

AC: When we first started talking about inclusion many years ago, we absolutely focused on the core – financial inclusion – or how we connect people to basic banking and payments products. As I said before, the world has moved on, and so has our thinking. For me now, inclusion is about financial inclusion, digital inclusion and all the many other important ways we need to include people into society. The most striking example of this is identity. For many women, financial inclusion was the first time they had been included into society. Their births hadn’t been registered; they didn’t have passports or all the many other things some of us take for granted. It was our work with governments, NGOs and our great network of partners that helped us realize that our technology could be one of the important ways to solve this problem. It’s also about thinking differently, which is why we also look at new ways to partner to drive inclusion, like the work we are doing with UN Women in Nigeria via a program focused on driving identities for women across the country.

So for me, inclusion is an ongoing journey, and as we face new challenges around the world we will need to build new solutions that address them. Of course, financial inclusion is still a cornerstone for this journey, and Mastercard’s commitment to add an additional 500 million into the formal economy is ongoing. Through our many and varied partnerships, we are making good progress – and through our new partnerships with new players we are identifying new ways to make this a reality.

GBA: Mastercard is primarily a technology company, and you personally are passionate about the role innovation plays in enabling full financial inclusion for women. What are the top three game-changers that you believe have the potential to catalyze inclusion of women into the financial system?

AC: I see this in 3 clear categories:

  1. Safety and security: Mastercard Digital Enablement Service (MDES) is leading the way in driving encryption or tokenized cards in the digital space, ensuring that when you use Amazon, Apple Pay, etc., your details are never at risk. We also have Safety Net, which works directly with banking infrastructure to identify fraud at speed; biometric authentication like the phenomenal Selfie pay; and of course fraud prevention tools that use AI and machine learning technology, like our recent acquisitions Brighterion and NuData Securities.  
  1. Data – it’s the new oil. We use our transaction data to produce spending pulse reports for governments and partners. They show what people are buying and how consumer confidence is doing much faster than traditional data mining businesses. We provide data to entrepreneurs to show them how their business is performing vs. rivals. We also use AI test and learn technology, which can help unlock all sorts of things, including the best place to site a business given demographic data.
  1. New payment flows: Real-time ACH [electronic payments] are happening globally, and our recent acquisition of Vocalink enables Mastercard to be the first to offer diverse ACH offerings to our partners and their customers. I think this is important. A lot of these solutions will give us more choices in how we pay and get paid and will drive peer-to-peer here in the UK.New technologies will have a profound effect. Blockchain certainly grabs the headlines, but it is a very new technology. It is one we are very interested in, and we are investigating many use cases across a variety of fields. It will be huge in the global trade space. And of course the internet of things will make our technology seem invisible as simplicity and immediacy drive the user experience. Uber is already a great example of that.

GBA: Some of our banks have added incredible benefits through their cards around women’s core needs of financial independence, health and education of themselves and their families, housing, transport, etc. Where do you see the greatest opportunities for adding value for women through cards?

AC: I have already mentioned the critical importance of identity, and that for me has to be one of the fundamental foundations to women’s financial independence. When they are recognized in the wider system as individuals and contributors in their own right, great things can happen. On top of this, I believe the partnership opportunities with governments to move social payments on to cards and digital payment forms provides a huge opportunity, and we are seeing this become a reality across multiple countries.

The one element I would return to is that the value that can be derived from cards is not a one size fits all. In some countries basic inclusion activities are still game changing, where in more developed markets we are looking at products like installments and rewards at point of sale – both of which give choices and advantages when paying by card. For many women around the world, financial independence comes when you can manage your own money, and we now have the ability to innovate and test pay before, pay now or pay later card offerings.

These are exciting times in payments and therefore keeping a keen eye on the data and building close partnerships with the businesses and institutions who hold the relationships enables us to continue to innovate and add value 

GBA: Mastercard works with a variety of stakeholders, including financial institutions, merchants, mobile providers, local and national governments, as well as directly with consumers. How can Mastercard leverage all these partners to best support the advancement of women?

AC: Mastercard has a fantastic network of partners, as you mention, and together with each of these partners or a combination of them we can build the solutions that make a real difference in the country or region they operate.

The most important place to start is to build a shared vision of why including, supporting and empowering women is the right thing for business, the economy and the world around us. We then need to look at this as a long-term activity, in the same way we approach all of our partnerships – addressing the needs of today, while building the platforms, initiatives and legacies needed for tomorrow.

Through our partnerships we also open up the opportunity to embed new thinking for our partners. A great example is our fantastic partnership with the World Food Programme (WFP). Mastercard has a long history of being driven by strong values. Just look at the Mastercard Foundation, which we created when we became a publicly listed company. Our relationship with WFP builds on this and enables us to embed doing good more deeply into our business by looking at two lines of action: digital food and everyday giving. Together with our partners, we have made a commitment to raise 100 million meals over the next year, which will have a direct impact on women and children and reverse the cycle of poverty – now that really is partnership in action!

 GBA: Looking at women-owned/led SMEs in particular, you sponsored the Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurs, which was launched earlier this year. Why was the index developed, and how is it helping women entrepreneurs globally?

AC: As you may know, I am actually a mathematician and a statistician by education, and my love of data has carried on through my career. What we knew was that the number of women entrepreneurs and women-owned or -led SMEs was increasing, and we wanted to understand what the reasons are and what are the right conditions to encourage more women in this area.

The Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurs was designed to help us track women’s progress and achievements in the business world. Through this index we can identify which factors and conditions are most conducive to closing the gender gap among business owners in an economy.

Fundamentally, we established two clear reasons for women to become entrepreneurs or business owners, and that was either necessity or opportunity. Having established those reasons, we were then able to look at what infrastructure or fundamentals were required around them. These included access to finance, education, governance and physical infrastructure.

What was acutely interesting is that irrespective of wealth and level of advancement of an economy, there are unique internal market dynamics within each economy that draw out explicit entrepreneurial traits. This means that even in developed countries there can be barriers born by things like culture. Japan is a very interesting example of this, where a cultural fear of business failure tends to dissuade women entrepreneurs even though the infrastructure is in place. Or in Argentina, where overall supporting conditions are below average, there is a better-than-average representation of women entrepreneurs.

More than anything, an index of this nature helps us to understand the business climate and identify where we can better partner to create the tools, solutions and enabling environments to help women business leaders succeed. 

GBA: You are an executive co-sponsor of “GiveMe5,” an initiative launched to advance the gender balance agenda within Mastercard itself as well as in societies and markets the company operates in. Can you give us an overview of this initiative and progress made?

AC: So let me start by explaining the name. Give Me 5 is designed to draw a direct link to the work that everyone at Mastercard is doing and has done for many years and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal No. 5: equality and empowerment for women and girls. The reason we embraced this is that it brings together all of our many activities under one common goal, while also being clear that the inclusion of women and the driving of gender balance is not a women’s issue – it is a societal and business issue.

To be successful you have to be clear about what you want to achieve, so we aligned ourselves around three strategic pillars – business, people and society. This gave us the clear goal of driving the empowerment and equality of women through the business we do around the world and the products and solutions we drive with our partners, leveraging and encouraging the nearly 12,000 Mastercard employees and also looking at how our actions and business can have a positive impact on the society we operate in.

I have been so encouraged and inspired by the number of people and the number of ways we are looking at this challenge. This year alone I have launched an initiative called Let Her Shine, where I bring together women leaders to map through the legacy initiatives and behaviors we can create to help the next generation shine. And of course there is the great work we are doing around the world with Girls4Tech, helping young girls embrace STEM subjects. Having already reached over 35,000 girls, we have made a new commitment to reach a further 200,000 by 2020. That’s going to make a real difference.

GBA: Why did Mastercard decide to join the GBA and how would you describe the potential win-win?

AC: We have long been a supporter and admirer of the work you are all doing and know that partnership is about building strength when you come together. Through conversations with some of our partners and leaders across the organization it became clear that you are driving conversations and actions that we want to be a part of.

For me the win-win is clear: When organizations come together with a common goal and a shared vision, we have the opportunity to effect change faster and do so in a way that drives a common standard and has the principles of safety, simplicity and inclusion baked in.