Mastercard on Track to Bring 500 Million People into Financial System by End of Year

Reaffirming its commitment to helping to grow financial inclusion globally, a Mastercard executive recently said the company is on track to fulfill its stated five-year goal of bringing 500 million people into the digital economy by the end of this year.

The remarks were made by Suzanne Moral, country manager for Mastercard South Africa, during the Forbes Woman Africa Leading Women Summit last week, according to ITWeb.

“We have a goal of bringing 500 million people into the digital economy by 2020 and we are going to achieve that goal this year,” the publication quoted Morel as saying.

“To reach this goal, we are applying our best assets – tools, technology, insights, funding, partnerships and expertise – to improve the lives of people and communities around the world. We have a huge responsibility to not only introduce innovative payment services but to also deliver real value in contributing to financial inclusion in the African economy with a particular focus on women.”

Mastercard set the goal in 2015 during an event at World Bank headquarters where access to financial services was recognized as a “basic building block to managing an individual’s financial life,” according to a press release. The event was used to announce organizational commitments from a coalition including governmental agencies, financial institutions and private-sector companies dedicated to increasing financial inclusion.

“Today, MasterCard is proud to announce our commitment to the World Bank Group’s efforts toward universal financial access. Our target is to reach 500 million people currently considered to be excluded from the financial mainstream,” Ajay Banga, CEO and President of MasterCard, said in the release.

“In making this commitment, we recognize that reaching full financial inclusion by 2020 requires the active engagement and commitment of the private sector, working in partnership with governments and international development organizations. Together, we can be agents of transformative change who create more inclusive economies and more empowered populations.”

According to the ITWeb article, Mastercard cites Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia as markets with significant opportunity to continue to grow access to financial services for the underserved. While 37% of consumer to business payments globally are digital, it said, that number drops to 16% in this region.

Morel did not provide current numbers of people that Mastercard’s initiatives have brought into the formal financial system, but pointed to programs such as Mastercard Send and PromptPay that are driving inclusion.

Mastercard has previously credited payment facilitators with helping to remove barriers to financial inclusion by helping to make sure that consumers have not only access to transaction accounts and digital payment methods, but places to use them.

PFs further this goal by enabling easier payments acceptance for small merchants. In a report, the company described payment facilitators as “an extremely cost-effective and expedient approach to enrolling, underwriting, and managing smaller merchants.”