A recent study found that only countries with widespread access to electronic payment systems reach high levels of financial inclusion.
The study–conducted by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and McKinsey–found that, in countries where more than 70 percent of people have the option to pay electronically, financial inclusion exceeds 85 percent.
MasterCard President and CEO Ajay Banga emphasized the role electronic payments play in advancing financial access.
“Today’s payments technology – prepaid and mobile coupled with biometrics – brings millions of people access to financial tools for the first time, enabling them to live more secure, empowered and included lives,” Banga said.
MasterCard has launched more than 10 programs worldwide that are designed to improve financial access for 350 million people. In Nigeria, the government launched a national ID program that combines a prepaid payment functionality with a biometric ID solution, and in Lebanon, the company partnered with the U.N. World Food Programme to introduced a voucher system to help Syrian refugees meet their food needs.
In Egypt, MasterCard partnered with the National Bank of Egypt and Etisalat to launch the first Arabic mobile money program allowing subscribers to transfer money using their phone, and in Brazil, MasterCard partnered with Telefonica to create Zuum—a mobile money solution designed to make deposits, bill pay and transfers more convenient and secure.
MasterCard said it seeks to advance its efforts to improve financial inclusion by challenging perceptions that financial inclusion is only an issue in the developing world; partnering with the Center for Financial Inclusion to study the impact demographic shifts and rising incomes have on financial inclusion; and joining the Better Than Cash Alliance, which works with governments, development organizations and the private sector to advance electronic payments in emerging economies.