Mastercard has expanded its worldwide financial inclusion commitment and has now pledged to bring one billion people and 50 million micro and small businesses into the digital economy by 2025.
This after the global payments technology company achieved its initial goal to include 500 million people previously excluded from financial services into the digital economy by 2020.
As part of its next financial inclusion commitment, Mastercard says it will also focus on providing 25 million women entrepreneurs with solutions that can help them grow their businesses.
In a statement, the company says the impact of COVID-19 has made it even more pressing to support inclusive growth in developing economies like SA, which according to the World Bank, is forecast to have more than one million people pushed into extreme poverty due to the pandemic.
“The health and economic consequences of COVID-19 have highlighted the critical need to support vulnerable populations, many of whom are disproportionately impacted. If we are going to recover in any sort of long-term, sustainable way, we have to ensure everyone is included in the digital economy. Financial inclusion is a critical part of that goal,” says Suzanne Morel, country manager for Mastercard SA.
In SA, Mastercard indicates it has partnered with fintech firms like uKheshe and iKhokha, to enable them to offer low-cost digital payment solutions to small, micro and medium enterprises (SMMEs) and the unbanked to fast-track financial inclusion.
With a large percentage of SMMEs, traders and service providers still transacting in cash, QR code solutions like Masterpass provide an affordable way to accept digital payments and grow their businesses, says the company.
According to Mastercard, it has also partnered with Junior Achievement South Africa to help equip young women with the skills to start and grow their own businesses, and instil the discipline of earning a living, saving, spending and investing.
“Reaching the one billion goal will require collaboration and partnerships with a wide range of players, including financial services providers, fintechs, mobile network operators, government, retailers and others. In partnership with both the public and private sectors, we look forward to developing commercially-sustainable and scalable solutions that will help society-at-large thrive,” Morel states