MasterCard Financial Inclusion Initiative Driven By mCommerce and Biometric Technology

Today, MasterCard – global payment company and member of the FIDO Alliance – released a statement pointing to new technology and public-private partnerships as key drivers in expanding financial inclusion. Many among the technological innovations that MasterCard names are mobile and biometric based payment and banking solutions.

Approximately 2.5 billion adults worldwide are without even a bank account and MasterCard president and CEO Ajay Banga has been vocal about the private sector’s role in providing financial services to this underserved third of the Earth’s population.

“While the risks of not addressing financial inclusion are profound, the benefits are undeniable,” said Banga a year ago when addressing the topic. “If it’s done well, it can help grow an economy that’s more equitable, sustainable and inclusive.”

“We must dispel the myths surrounding financial inclusion,” he continued. “The 2.5 billion adults without access to financial services are disproportionately women and young people and include many who are employed or living in urban centers. And, there are 106 million unbanked or underbanked people in the United States, so clearly financial inclusion is needed in all markets, not just the developing world.”

According to MasterCard’s announcement, prepaid and mobile payments combined with biometrics are allowing these underserved to benefit from formal financial services that they were once denied.

Examples of this are abundant in Africa. In Nigeria, the national ID program leverages biometrics in a prepaid payment system that stands as the widest reaching financial inclusion program on the continent.

MasterCard also points to a mobile money program that it is responsible for in Egypt and the electronic payments that have resulted from its work with the South African Social Security Agency.

Financial programs in Africa have recently been at the forefront of mobile payment adoption, with a great number of public-private partnerships allowing for innovative payment methods that help cut down of fraud while allowing the underserved to take advantage of the financial services many take for granted.

A particularly great example of the alternate payment incentives characteristic of the region is the Cashless Lagos program in Nigeria which charges fees on cash transactions so as to encourage electronic and mobile interactions.

Mobile ID World spent all of May focusing on mobile commerce, to dive deeper into this major topic of mobile identity be sure to check out our mCommerce Month roundup.