In a series of contributed essays from the 2015 Conference on Inclusive Capitalism, Ann Cairns, president of International Markets for MasterCard shares her thoughts on the barriers to inclusive capitalism.
Financial inclusion is one action that can move a population out of poverty while driving economic growth that’s more inclusive, sustainable and fair.
It is not just a question of how better to pay, and get paid, in situations where banking infrastructure is absent. It is also about ensuring that, wherever you are in the world, you have the safest and simplest financial access and opportunities.
Financial inclusion is an enormous challenge. Without financial inclusion, large swaths of people are getting left behind. Globally, two billion people lack access to a bank account: they are not just the most marginalized, such as refugees. Half are urban. Half have jobs. They are mothers, fathers, students and farmers. Nearly 40 percent are young people and nearly 50 percent are women.
The impact on these individuals and their local economies is vast. Being restricted to cash means that they are unable fully to participate in the local or global economy. They lack a financial identity and cannot easily receive money from relatives overseas or assistance from their own governments. They are usually unable to get loans and often cannot access efficient markets to buy and sell their goods.
Think about standing in line for hours to pay a bill in cash or receive hourly wages. Think about not being able to send a small amount of money to family at a reasonable cost. Think about receiving social benefits in cash and having your money stolen as you make your way home or, worse, stolen by relatives at home (a key concern for women).
Financial inclusion is ultimately a solvable problem. The only way to reach scale in addressing it is through public-private partnerships.
Although extremely challenging, financial inclusion is ultimately a solvable problem.
The only way to reach scale in addressing it is through public-private partnerships. Two billion people won’t be reached by governments, telcos, banks or merchants, acting alone.
Globally, two billion people lack access to a bank account: they are not just the most marginalized, such as refugees. Half are urban. Half have jobs.
For over 40 years MasterCard has been connecting organizations to help accelerate the pace of inclusion. We are helped in our task of empowering the excluded by advances in technology. Governments are delivering social benefits on payment cards in South Africa, Turkey and Mexico. Identity programs that link citizens to financial services are rolling out in Nigeria and Egypt. An innovation lab is being built in Kenya to develop new products and services for people living in poverty, with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Around the globe, MasterCard is using technology to help more people access the financial system and build better, brighter futures. We connect nearly two billion cardholders to 40+ million merchants through more than 25,000 banks in 200+ countries. Our network is the fastest, most secure on the planet. Through it we connect a complicated web of players who operate with different rules and technologies. This is how we drive ubiquity, safety, and utility – the hallmarks of success in financial inclusion.