About your organisation
Mastercard is a global technology company in the payments industry. Our mission is to connect and power an inclusive, digital economy that benefits everyone, everywhere by making transactions safe, simple, smart and accessible. Using secure data and networks, partnerships and passion, our innovations and solutions help individuals, financial institutions, governments and businesses realise their greatest potential. With connections across more than 210 countries and territories, we are building a sustainable world that unlocks priceless possibilities for all.
What were your main concerns when COVID-19 hit the UK?
The pandemic first and foremost represented a risk to the health and safety of populations – our friends, families and colleagues – all over the world, and that was and remains our primary concern. From a business continuity perspective, we were already set up to work remotely so were able to navigate the adjustment to working primarily from home with little distruption – but it was important to take the time to connect with team members and colleagues and ensure that we were supporting each other as our personal and professional worlds merged.
What goals or outcomes did you want to achieve?
Our focus has been on promoting inclusive growth by helping to build a more connected world where everyone has equal access to a better life. From the outset we have been committed to working with our partners to address the threat to human life this pandemic poses and to also build towards a recovery that is full, fast and equitable.
As a business, we’re focused on helping individuals and businesses weather the challenges they face during such unprecedented times – not only by ensuring that our network remains secure, resilient and reliable but also by applying our technology, philanthropy and data science expertise to help rebuild healthy communities and ensure that economic growth is inclusive.
What was your solution?
Collectively, Mastercard has committed more than $300m (£231m) to the fight against COVID-19. These funds will support the fight for a cure and aid small businesses and financially vulnerable communities around the world. These include:
- $250m (£193m) in financial, technology, products and insight assets over the next five years to support the financial security of small businesses and their workers
- A partnership with The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Welcome to create a COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator that has since mobilised more than $300m (£222m) to advance the discovery, development, manufacture and distribution of treatments and diagnostics in response to this pandemic
- $50m (£38m) in emergency and recovery philanthropic grants from the Mastercard Impact Fund, including a $10m (£7m) challenge issued by data.org for ideas that use data science to advance inclusive growth and recovery around the world and a one billion commitment to financial inclusion, pledging to bring a total of one billion people and 50 million micro and small business into the digital economy by 2025. There will be a direct focus on providing 25 million women entrepreneurs with solutions that can help them grow their businesses.
Mastercard has long pioneered the power of partnership and collaboration, believing that no one player has the answers and that existing approach meant that we were already firmly by our partners side as they navigated through the fresh challenges they faced.— Claire Thompson, EVP, Global Trade, Mastercard
How are you supporting businesses?
We focused our efforts on a few core principles. Firstly, partnerships and collaborations offer the chance to bring our strengths together, using innovative technology to create a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. And secondly, a resilient rebuild will only be achievable if we can close the gap between those who have access to digital technologies and those who do not. We must make the digital economy work for everyone, everywhere.
We strive to make every transaction safe, simple and accessible. That continues in today’s world. We are using that same technology along with data and cybersecurity expertise to help address new challenges facing governments, small businesses and consumers, including:
- Supporting SMEs to get online: Now more than ever, having a digital presence is critical for SMEs. Many have been largely physical and must bring their business online to survive. We launched a Digital Doors initiative that is aimed to help SMEs move their storefronts online through our e-commerce partners, accept digital payments and protect their business though Mastercard cyber security solutions
- Increase access of SMEs to affordable funding: Globally SMEs are excluded from access to affordable financing that creates a gap in their ability to trade cross-border and grow their business. And with the pandemic, the trade finance gap has been widening. SMEs desperately need access to working capital, but struggle to receive it. Together with our partners we have been working on accelerating digital access of SMEs to affordable financing and services. We brought together an alliance of partners including Asian Development Bank to leverage technology to digitise supply chains for wholesalers and small retailers. The results of the alliance are a technology solution that provides access to credit for wholesalers and access of small retailers to promotion offers from producers that allow retailers to increase their stock. We launched the pilot in Indonesia in October, and already have signed up over 500 micro-retailers (more than half are owned by women)
- Accelerating contactless payments: We championed efforts to increase contactless payment limits across all regions as people looked for safer ways to pay in the wake of the pandemic. We’re also piloting Tap on Phone technology with our partners in more than a dozen markets on six continents, turning Android smartphones into acceptance devices for contactless cards, mobile wallets, even smart watches – with no additional device and setup costs, separate dongles or other hardware.
How did Mastercard change the way it interacts with staff during this time?
As a company the wellbeing of our staff has been top of mind over recent months and we have put a number of new activities and policies in place to ensure that they are supported. These activities include:
- A COVID-19 global benefit for up to 10 business days of paid leave for sick, childcare or eldercare related needs
- Committing to no layoffs in 2020 as a result of COVID-19
- Running a virtual summer intern program with full/same compensation as promised pre-pandemic
- Giving employees a range of choices about how and where they get work done, as we also put precautionary measures in place to help them feel safe if they choose to return to the offices, including split teams, in-office social distancing and cleanliness/safety measures
- Virtual Coffees: Across Enterprise Partnerships we have introduced new ways to communicate virtually so that the team can interact, collaborate and share learnings. In order to be innovative during this time, the team needed to communicate with members outside of their day to day whilst also being able to share knowledge and exchange information – virtual coffees provide time to connect outside of scheduled meetings and business objectives, checking in on each other at a personal level as you would do naturally if sat next to each other in an office or seeing each other in the office canteen
- Enterprise Possible: The Enterprise Possible initiative was created with the purpose to bring the immediate team closer together where physical gatherings were no longer an option. The initiative aims to facilitate collaboration and open communication across Mastercard Enterprise Partnerships to encourage sharing of initiatives and strengthen connections. Some examples are the Enterprise Possible Speaker Series where we aim to bring both internal and external industry experts to the team, presenting on a wide range of industry topics relevant across our interactions. To welcome new members to the team through virtual connections, new team members will get to meet the team and gain an understanding of key initiatives.
What have your results been?
Our work with governments has been one area where we have seen the most positive impact. In response to COVID-19 we have launched over 100 initiatives with governments across 35 countries globally. This has ranged from supporting the issuance of vital funds to citizens and businesses, helping businesses and governments to digitise, using insights to inform, assess and target policy, and preventing and detecting fraud. This includes initiatives led through City Possible, a global network of cities, businesses, academics and communities launched by Mastercard in 2018, which is helping state and local governments leverage our infrastructure, partnerships, and technology to build a roadmap to recovery in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
What advice would you give to other businesses looking to do something similar?
Just as countries cannot operate as an island, neither can companies – these unprecedented times require the building of unconventional partnerships to support agility and resilience – and as we move through the second half of 2020 learning from the economic consequences of COVID-19, we can only collectively emerge stronger and ensure equitable and inclusive recovery for all if we come together, think differently and combine our efforts to address those most vulnerable.