Held every once in four years, this year’s version of the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth (The Center), has partnered with Consumers International to improve protection and empowerment for vulnerable consumers in the digital finance sector. The project seeks to establish a new community of stakeholders, including digital financial service providers, regulatory bodies, consumer advocates, and technology companies, to address the increasing complexity of the digital finance ecosystem.
Consumer advocates worldwide share that only 20 percent of consumers are included in deliberations about design of new technologies in their country. This lack of voice means that risks for vulnerable consumers in digital finance are not effectively addressed or anticipated, and solutions are not effectively designed for the people they are intended for.
A grant from the Mastercard Center, through the Mastercard Impact Fund, will accelerate the research and development of a global framework for consumer protection and empowerment in new and emerging digital infrastructure to ensure the potential of these platforms is realized. The effort is focused on driving consumer protection frameworks, with a focus on underserved populations, that keep pace with the rapid evolution of the digital finance landscape.
The initiative will focus on up to a dozen target countries identified based on representative digital finance ecosystems and consumer advocacy presence, collaborating with local stakeholders to identify and elevate the voice, needs and well-being of vulnerable consumers. Outputs will prioritize driving trusted digital experiences that go beyond access to ensure quality service.
“Consumer protection frameworks and systems have simply not kept up with these surging levels of complexity. They no longer work to inform, protect, and empower consumers effectively. As a result, consumers are subject to significantly increased risks such as fraud and scams, which then reduce consumer trust and stall progress. This is particularly the case for lower income consumers, women, and other consumers with systemic vulnerabilities,” said Helena Leurent, Director General of Consumers International, “working in partnership with Mastercard, we can unlock unique perspectives and unite a global community behind consumer financial health and wellbeing with consumer protection at its core.”
On her part, Shamina Singh, Founder and President of the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth, said that technology is best used when it works for the people.
“As the digital finance ecosystem evolves, it is incumbent upon all stakeholders to ensure advances drive benefit to everyone, everywhere. Our partnership with Consumers International will ensure that new schemes and solutions are built not just with, but for the people they serve,” Singh said.
Consumers International aims to establish a fair and secure global marketplace by advocating for consumer rights and promoting access to digital financial services which are inclusive, safe, data protected and private, and sustainable. Over the past three years, Consumer International’s Fair Digital Finance Accelerator engaged a network of 65 consumer associations across low-and middle-income countries, reaching 1.2 million people via regulator and financial service provider engagement.
The organization has played an influential role in successfully driving regulation, evolving business practices and transparency and accountability within the digital finance sector. Mastercard joins Consumers International’s network of governments, academics, civil society, foundations, and business as part of their unique multi-stakeholder impact approach to achieving a fair, safe, and sustainable marketplace for all people.
The philanthropic funding, delivered by the Mastercard Impact Fund, is part of Mastercard’s ongoing commitment to help advance equity and economic opportunities for underserved communities and increase access and usage of digital financial services.