Mobilize teams around a leadership vision
Senior leadership has an important role to play in igniting social innovation. They can outline a long-term vision for how this can support a company’s business strategy and set goals that incentivize business units to generate and pursue opportunities.
Ajay Banga, the Chief Executive Officer of MasterCard, has made financial inclusion a top corporate priority, outlining a vision of connecting people to formal financial services as a key lever for the company’s future market. With 85% of the world’s retail transactions undertaken in cash, and with MasterCard’s existing capabilities in digital payments, providing access to formal financial services presents an enormous opportunity for business growth.
To incentivize business development in financial inclusion, leadership included related targets within the company’s 10 strategic objectives. At the same time, a public commitment to connect an additional 500 million people, including millions of small merchants, to the formal financial system by 2020 was made. As a result, teams around the company started identifying new opportunities to use existing business capabilities to serve new customer segments.
One new customer segment was government. For example, the Egyptian Government and Central Bank have prioritized financial inclusion as a pressing issue due to the ongoing political unrest, as even those with access to formal banking were not able to use the services regularly. MasterCard worked with Etisalat and the Central Bank to develop a mobile banking platform offering bill payments, money transfers, e-commerce and loan facilities. The solution now enables financial inclusion through a national identification card with a digital signature to over 60 million Egyptians.
A second new segment was international aid organizations. MasterCard worked with organizations like Mercy Corps, Save the Children, World Vision, the International Rescue Committee and others to create the MasterCard Aid Network, an end-to-end, non-financial service that makes the distribution of humanitarian aid safe, simple and smart using Europay, MasterCard, Visa (EMV) chip technology. The network is now active in areas of civil unrest such as Yemen and after natural disasters, such as when Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines.
Given the ambitious scope of the leadership’s vision, MasterCard teams are tasked not only with identifying opportunities that build on existing capabilities but also with developing totally new products. For example, with grant funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, MasterCard launched the Lab for Financial Inclusion in Nairobi, Kenya in 2015. Though the returns for entirely new product lines are much more difficult to anticipate, if successful, the company is hoping these innovations could make a significant contribution to the company’s financial inclusion objectives.
Home page image: REUTERS/Tim Wimborne