In a matter of months, the coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the digitization of the global economy, boosting tech-enabled trends like e-commerce and digital payments to an unprecedented extent. Mastercard has been a huge stakeholder in this ongoing transformation—and has played a major role in making sure its benefits reach people in the developing world.
Five years ago, Mastercard set a goal of bringing 500 million unbanked people around the world into the “formal” economy, by promoting access to financial products, services, and technology. In the first quarter of 2020, Mastercard declared that it had achieved its goal—and set a new target of 1 billion people by 2025. Included in that figure: financial tools for 50 million small businesses, plus support for 25 million women entrepreneurs globally.
The company’s many current financial levers include programs like the Mastercard Farmer Network, a digital marketplace providing access to buyers and pricing transparency for nearly 500,000 small farmers across Africa and India. In Uganda, Mastercard recently launched Kupaa, a mobile payment platform that helps lower-income people overcome financial obstacles to education. Kupaa lets families pay for education-related expenses in installments. As of last year, it had reached more than 300,000 students and 130,000 parents and guardians across Uganda. Next up: expanding the Kupaa program across East Africa.