Money20/20 Europe kicked off today in Copenhagen, Denmark, and Mobile ID World is there with our sister site FindBiometrics. This morning, Anne Cairns, president of International Markets at MasterCard, took the keynote stage to talk about the company’s role in spreading financial inclusion around the world, some of the challenges in the endeavor, and the technologies that are enabling it.
“We see the future moving to the Internet of Things and we think that if you’re not connected there’s going to be an even bigger difference between the haves and have-nots,” said Cairns. “And when we went into financial inclusion we started to see that digital identity was actually something that was being used by governments around the world to actually roll out, and register people, and include them. And that’s why we started to think of inclusion as much broader than just financial, in terms of giving people digital identities.”
Citing India’s gigantic national ID project, digital identity initiatives underway in Nigeria, and the advent of mass mobile connectivity, Cairns admitted that while there has been progress in bringing financial services and digital identity to the underserved, there is still a long way to go. MasterCard, in its efforts to enable and spread financial inclusion around the world, has been partnering with governments and global organizations like the Gates Foundation and UN Women.
When it comes to getting users to come onboard to digital financial services, MasterCard has been succeeding with novel technologies that are exciting, intuitive, and useful on an everyday basis. Identity Check, MasterCard’s biometric online payments verification system, has taken off “like wildfire” in the Netherlands and the US where it was trialed.
“People love taking selfies, so they see it as a fun thing rather than this ‘Oh my goodness, I better put my PIN number in, I’ve got to remember my password.”
Cairns sees biometric authentication as a technology that is enabling inclusion, and the same goes for the Internet of Things. She described a contactless, seamless future for payments enabled by the IoT, illustrating the vision of MasterCard’s Smart Cities initiative. Again, here we see customer adoption tied closely with technology that enables convenience.
“On the Smart Cities side, as people are moving to live in urban areas, they want to get up in the morning and they want to live their life in a very easy way,” said Cairns. “Public transit is the first area that we think of because when people start to try and adopt something, if you create something that’s really useful to them in their everyday life, they adopt it quickly.”
To further illustrate this point, Cairns used the example of Transport for London, which has been upgraded to accept contactless payments. Gone are the days of fumbling with change or buying fare from a teller, “… you can just go through it with your credit or debit card from anywhere in the world as long as it’s contactless.”
And when Cairns says anywhere, she means anywhere. According to her, MasterCard is seeing 35 different currencies being used on a daily basis in London thanks to contactless technology. You can even use biometrically protected mobile wallets like Apple Pay – a method which MasterCard has helped promote through free transit promotions undertaken in concert with Apple and TfL.
As easy as it is becoming to pay the way you want in a safe and secure way, however, the road to financial inclusion is long – over 90 million people in Europe alone are still underserved, and Cairns says that the on going migrant crisis stands to increase that number. Still, she does believe that it is possible to one day achieve total financial inclusion. A great number of companies and organizations around the world including Google and Facebook are endeavoring to bring digital identity to the masses, and along with that will come the financial services that many, including Cairns, believe to be a human right.
That having been said, Cairns doesn’t see the future being completely cashless. Consumer choice is important, so she believes that consumers will best be served if they have the choice to pay however they feel is most appropriate to their contextual comfort level. With the initiative being undertaken for financial inclusion supported by digital identity, consumer choices are only set to become more numerous and tailored to convenience.
Stay posted with Mobile ID World and FindBiometrics as we continue to bring you news straight from Money20/20 Europe in Copenhagen.