Now is the time to think ahead, says Mastercard

The Singapore Fintech Festival, started off today and has several programmes lined up for the next four days. 

Michael Miebach, President and Chief Executive Officer-Elect of Mastercard who led the An Innovation Agenda for the Covid World session addressed how businesses, governments, and people are facing new challenges and new opportunities.

He also shared his thoughts on how to move beyond incremental steps to imagine make life easier, more efficient and more intuitive.

According to him, the biggest challenge for businesses was inequity as the SMEs were the ones largely affected by the pandemic. He also said that behaviours of consumers have also changed due to Covid-19.

“If you were locked at home and you wanted to buy groceries, you started using online services and you liked the experience. So, why go back?” Michael said.

He also mentioned that it was a challenge to change the mindset of people to believe that this will be over at some point.

Fortunately, the public started recognising that there will be steps on recovery other than the public health answer, where the public had to follow SOP, undergo tests, and maintain social distancing.

He further said that to have people focus on the long term was a challenge. “In early March when we said there will be no layoffs in 2020 related to Covid-19, that gave peace of mind to the people.”

Despite the challenges we faced, we did have a co-creation with customers. We understood, analysed, explained and then reacted to the crisis.

“We realised the changes on how the world would operate. We got involved in that. It is all about learning agility, and it was important to be involved in matters that we could contribute to,” Michael explained, referring to the COVI-PASS developed by Mastercard in partnership with GAVI West Africa.

COVI-PASS is a health passport for people who have been vaccinated against Covid-19.

He then shared about shopopenings.com, an initiative by Mastercard, that enables consumers to know if a shop nearby them is open. Michael explained that this was possible due to the data they have.

“We were able to leverage on technology to think of a world beyond the pandemic,” Michael highlighted.

“Covid is an unprecedented situation where nobody had been prepared for, but in an odd way we were prepared for that. Because a lot of the homework that the payment industry had done over the last couple of years. For tokenisation, some of the groundworks had been laid down before and the pandemic enabled this to come into effect vastly about the right time, ,” he added. 

He also emphasised that the current situation to resume to the way it was prior to the pandemic may be a lot earlier, with the vaccines being available soon.

Additionally, he foresees higher willingness from governments and technology players to partner with Mastercard in the coming six to seven months.

“It was yesterday’s innovation that’s helping us today, so, what we have to do today as we look beyond is important,” he concluded.

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