As a global technology company in the payments industry, Mastercard has a mission to connect and power an inclusive, digital economy that benefits everyone, everywhere by making transactions safe, simple, smart, and accessible. With the digital revolution continuing to alter every aspect of life as we once knew it, Mastercard is at the forefront with its payment technologies and innovation.
This is particularly true in the thriving MENA region, where Khalid Elgibali, Division President Middle East, and North Africa at Mastercard, explains how by using secure data and networks, partnerships and passion, the company’s innovations and solutions are helping individuals, financial institutions, governments, and businesses realize their greatest potential.
He says: “We like to think of ourselves as a multifaceted end-to-end technology company that enables banks, governments, fintechs, digital partners, and marketplaces - anybody who's in the business of creating an exchange of value between two parties. Mastercard connects them to affect the payment, to enhance the user experience, and as importantly, to get the value created as a result of this transaction happening.
“There's a lot of value that gets created in the form of data, in the form of capability, that enables other organizations, like governments and financial institutions, to take it to a second level to the benefit of the players in the ecosystem.”
Innovation is at the very front and center of Mastercard’s DNA, implementing the latest technologies to facilitate and enable safe, fast, and secure payments. This forward-thinking approach has been achieved, in part, through relationships built in the burgeoning fintech sector, with innovative businesses that solve problems in new ways, as Elgibali explains: “Mastercard Start Path is a startup engagement program that nurtures the ideas and capabilities of fintech innovators. We connect them to others to establish value-creating partnerships, driving innovation in the fields of cybersecurity and AI-based decisioning, chat bots, digital identity, blockchain.”
COVID-19 has also had an impact, with changes in consumer lifestyle and behavior resulting in a huge uptake in digital payments. Mastercard is helping SMEs to tap into this digital potential, says Elgibali. “We help create virtual marketplaces for SMEs, where cashflow information can be used by banks to underwrite these businesses and disperse credit to them. These SMEs can accelerate their growth because they suddenly have much more working capital.”
Mastercard is now dominating the digital wallet payment space that connects telcos, mobile money platforms and banks. A prime example is Mastercard’s partnerships in Egypt to help bring to market the first interoperable payment wallet in the country and contribute towards the company’s financial inclusion goal, to connect a billion individuals globally to the digital economy by 2025 – a mission which already reached 675 million people by the end of 2021.
Elgibali says that the company is further enabling change: “We are committed to help 50 million SMEs, with a direct focus on connecting 25 million women entrepreneurs with the tools to thrive. More support is needed to ensure equal opportunities. If you don't include half of your population to create and drive productivity, you're actually leaving economic value on the table.”
Elgibali himself walks the talk: his leadership, along with others, has been instrumental in ensuring women represented at senior level in Mastercard MENA has jumped from near-zero to almost 40 percent. With this drive, the future of the company looks bright: using technology to solve problems and protect against ever-changing risks. At the core of it, says Elgibali, is remembering to answer the needs of customers.
He explains: “At Mastercard we are committed to doing well by doing good across the economies, societies and markets that we are present in. We have a responsibility not just to our colleagues, but to the people, businesses, and governments we can enable with our solutions, so that everyone can flourish in the digital economy.
“We’ve translated this commitment into a huge variety of initiatives, and we will continue to do so, because what’s really important is when the rubber hits the road, not the slogans or claims, or headline news.”