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Card companies build on initial COVID-19 response

A couple of weeks ago on CTMfile we covered how the card giants had committed significant funds to help SMEs (LINK: https://ctmfile.com/story/card-giants-unleash-covid-19-war-chest-to-support-smes) during the COVID-19 outbreak. Now Mastercard has added to its response, while American Express has launched a new digital platform to support SMEs.

Over at Mastercard, the firm has expanded its worldwide commitment to financial inclusion, pledging to bring a total of 1 billion people and 50 million micro and small businesses into the digital economy by 2025. As part of this effort, there will be a direct focus on providing 25 million women entrepreneurs with solutions that can help them grow their businesses.

The extended commitment builds on Mastercard’s ongoing efforts to address the COVID-19 related health and economic challenges facing individuals all over the world.

“If we’re going to recover in any sort of long-term, sustainable way, we have to make sure that everyone is included,” said Ajay Banga, chief executive officer at Mastercard. “Getting people access to the digital economy is a critical part of that. This is so much more than philanthropy. This is an opportunity to develop commercially-sustainable and scalable social impact with government and private sector partners - and to do it in a way that helps society-at-large thrive.”

At the 2015 Spring Meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank Group, Mastercard committed to bring 500 million excluded individuals into the financial system. It achieved that goal through more than 350 innovative programmes across 80 countries.

In the US, Mastercard has worked with non-profit microfinance organisation Grameen America to support its technology transformation and to transition low-income women entrepreneurs to digital banking. Thanks to this partnership, women can establish a financial identity and grow their businesses by digitising their operations and accessing microloans. To date, Grameen America has disbursed over US$1.5bn to help more than 132,000 women entrepreneurs build or expand their businesses. During the current coronavirus crisis, digital payments have enabled them to continue disbursing same-day loans to women entrepreneurs in need, providing critical lifelines of support to their businesses.

In Mexico, together with Neumann Kaffee Gruppe and its coffee export company Exportadora de Café California (ECC), Mastercard created a digital supply chain payment system that provides a streamlined, secure and speedy way to pay farmers directly, allowing them to earn more for their crop. NKG and Mastercard are building on these efforts to bring digital payments to other markets and protect more vulnerable cash-only farmers.

In Kenya, Mastercard partnered with Unilever to create Jaza Duka (fill up your store), a digital programme for micro-merchants in Kenya with more than 18,000 duka owners already registered. The program provides a micro-credit eligibility recommendation to Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB), which can then assess a retailer’s credit worthiness and extend formal credit for stock purchases.

Mastercard says that reaching the one billion goal will require a broad range of efforts, including ongoing work on government disbursement solutions, wage digitisation of private sector workers, partnerships with mobile network operators, solutions for gig workers, scaling efforts with fintechs, digital platforms and digital wallets/apps, solutions addressing needs of the financially vulnerable and the expansion of CityKey and Community Pass programmes.

A coalition of support

Meanwhile, American Express has announced it has established ‘Stand for Small,’ a digital platform bringing together a coalition of more than 40 companies across media, technology, consumer goods, professional services, and many other industries, that have come together to provide meaningful support to small businesses as they navigate the impacts of COVID-19.

The Stand for Small coalition will provide millions of US small businesses access to support through services, offers, tools and expertise, among other benefits. These resources are available to support small businesses as they work to reduce their operating expenses, manage their teams remotely, enhance their digital capabilities, and address other needs during this pandemic.

Many companies in the coalition have been supporting small businesses throughout this crisis, and this initiative brings together all these benefits into a centralised digital platform that enables access to relevant products, information, tools and services.

“We’ve always believed in the power of partnership and could not be prouder to stand tall for small with more than 40 partners to offer meaningful support to small businesses during this challenging time,” said Stephen Squeri, chairman and CEO of American Express. “The companies joining Stand for Small all have legacies of supporting the more than 30 million small businesses in the US, and collectively, our goal is to provide them with valuable resources so that we can come out stronger together once this crisis ends.”

The coalition includes a variety of brands, such as Adobe, Amazon, American Express, AT&T Business, Avis, Bain & Company, BigCommerce, Bill.com, BJ’s Wholesale Club, BlueSnap, Budget, Dell Technologies, Deluxe, Dentsu Aegis Network, DocuSign, eBay Inc., Facebook, FedEx, GoDaddy, Google, Grainger, Hertz, IBM, iHeartMedia, Justworks, LinkedIn, Melio, Menlo Security, Microsoft, Next Insurance, Paychex, Inc., Pilot, Salesforce, Sam’s Club, SAP, Signifyd, Staples, SurePayroll, Trulioo, Uber, UPS, Verizon Communications, and Zoro.

Together, these companies offer a wide-ranging and diversely resourced platform. American Express says that Stand for Small is committed to support small businesses during this challenging time to ensure they continue to play a vital role in our communities and the economy. This plan is to continue to onboard partners, adding more experiences and services throughout the year.


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