Nina Nieuwoudt of Mastercard explains the company’s commitment to financial inclusion for Financial Inclusion Week 2017.

Posted by Nina Nieuwoudt, Global Product Development, New Consumers, Mastercard

Women walking up dirt road with bundles on their heads

Around the world this week, governments, multilaterals, and companies are coming together to celebrate Financial Inclusion Week. It’s an opportunity to reflect on the progress that we’ve made in extending financial access to un-banked and underbanked communities, and also a time to take honest stock of how far we still have to go. As Mastercard’s Chief Product Officer Michael Miebach noted following his speech at Money20/20 last week – we’re making progress, but at our current pace we won’t achieve full financial inclusion for another 200 years. Needless to say, we’ve got work to do.


The theme of this year’s Financial Inclusion Week is how new products and partnerships can enable financial inclusion. At Mastercard, this topic is close to our hearts. We believe that cross-sector partnerships are key to extending access to consumers at the base of the pyramid and building products that truly improve their lives.

To be clear, promoting inclusion is not corporate social responsibility for us. Not only is pushing for a world where everyone has access to the security, transparency, and control of digital payments the right thing to do, but it’s also critical to the future of business.

We’re proud that this commitment to new partnership models can be found at all levels of our company. Several of these partnerships have been highlighted in a joint report by Center for Financial Inclusion at Accion and the Institute for International Finance, entitled “How Financial Institutions and Fintechs are Partnering for Inclusion: Lessons from the Frontlines”. The report recognizes our collaboration with Kopo Kopo, a fintech start-up, and Diamond Trust Bank to create a QR-payment ecosystem in Kenya that allows customers to pay with their phones, by simply taking a photo of a QR code and manually entering the transaction amount.

Later this week, I’ll be speaking about ways financial institutions and fintechs can partner during a webinar hosted by the Center for Financial Inclusion at Accion.

Beyond our partnerships, we’ve done our own on-the-ground research. For example, we recently released a report that offer insights into how to build a digital payments ecosystem for small and micro businesses. To learn more about how we’re supporting financial inclusion across the company, watch this video.

Despite these gains, we still face a host of challenges in reaching the two billion people who are locked out of the formal financial system. At Mastercard, we know that the only way we will ever transform this equation is by creating partnerships that leverage relevant sector expertise, and that offer in-depth knowledge of base-of-the-pyramid needs – from health and education, to payments and digital finance.

It is perhaps the biggest ecosystem we have tried to build yet, but it is incumbent on all of us to do so. 200 years is too long to wait.

This post originally appeared on Nina Nieuwoudt’s LinkedIn profile and is republished with permission.