Mastercard expands financial inclusion initiative

Mastercard expands financial inclusion initiative

Extending financial and digital access
Extending financial and digital access "is an imperative", says Ms Chew.

Mastercard says it is expanding its worldwide commitment to financial inclusion by pledging to bring a total of 1 billion people and 50 million micro- and small businesses into the digital economy by 2025.

As part of the effort, there will be a direct focus on providing 25 million female entrepreneurs with solutions that can help them grow their businesses.

The impact of Covid-19 has made it even more pressing to support inclusive growth in Asia-Pacific, which is home to 60% of the world's population. In an update in April, the World Bank said 24 million fewer people will escape poverty across East Asia-Pacific this year than would have without the pandemic.

"If we're going to recover in any sort of long-term, sustainable way, we have to make sure that everyone is included. Getting people access to the digital economy is a critical part of that," said Ajay Banga, chief executive of Mastercard.

"This is so much more than philanthropy. This is an opportunity to develop commercially sustainable and scalable social impact with government and private sector partners -- and to do it in a way that helps society at large thrive."

In Thailand, it is essential that all players, especially small business, can receive and make digital transactions to better sustain themselves during turbulent times.

"Extending financial and digital access to this traditionally informal sector is an imperative," said Aileen Chew, Mastercard country manager for Thailand and Myanmar.

The new commitment -- an extension of Mastercard's pledge in 2015 to bring 500 million excluded people into the financial system -- builds on the company's efforts to address the pandemic-related health and economic challenges facing people worldwide.

Over the past five years, Mastercard said it achieved its initial goal of including 500 million people in the digital economy through more than 350 programmes across 80 countries.

In India and Indonesia, its "Micro Credit Platform" opens access to credit for shopkeepers who historically have been locked out of the financial system. To give small business owners the skills they need to use credit productively, Mastercard partners with non-governmental organisations to provide financial and digital literacy training. In Indonesia, the programme aims to reach 10,000 neighbourhood shops by mid-2020.

In Bangladesh and Cambodia, Mastercard partnered with the apparel industry to digitise supply chains by introducing a combination of digital payrolls and an educational tool. The "Digital Wages Toolkit" has been tested in Bangladesh with more than 10,000 female garment workers and has been adapted and translated for use in Cambodia.

In Indonesia, "Mastercard Academy 2.0" was designed to impart essential digital knowledge to different segments of the population. By 2022, the programme will equip 100,000 schoolchildren, young adults, entrepreneurs and mid-career professionals with the digital skills they need to actively participate in the new economy.

In Vietnam, Mastercard is working with Care International to assist banks and fintech firms to tailor financial services and products to bring women into the financial system and promote business growth among female entrepreneurs. The goal is to reach more than 1 million Vietnamese women.

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