Making the Digital Age Work for Consumers through Technology and Innovation

Following the European Commission’s proposals on the Digital Single Market, a new report from MasterCard demonstrates how research and innovation in technology can make the Digital Age work for consumers, businesses and cities around the world, while displacing cash and driving economic and inclusive growth.

In the midst of the most extraordinary change since the Industrial Revolution, technology plays a central role as both a transformer of human behaviour and enabler of enhanced consumer experience. It is fundamentally altering the way we shop, travel and engage with service providers and even governments.

A report launched by MasterCard at the European Business Summit entitled “The New World of Retail“ shows how the rapid uptake of technology has resulted in profound changes in the way the retail sector operates. The report finds that to attract and retain the interest of owners of more than 305 million smartphones, 60% of whom are likely to use them for online purchases, many merchants have changed their business model to offer an omni-channel purchasing experience that seamlessly converges traditional and online retail channels. In this transformation process, security is fundamental as nearly half of victims avoid (online) retailers where fraud has occurred, thereby affecting reputation and future sales.

Speaking at the European Business Summit, Ann Cairns, President of International Markets for MasterCard said: “In the Digital Age we all expect to be able to shop anytime, anywhere and anyhow. New payments solutions such as contactless cards and device-based payments are no longer some futuristic opportunity. Technological innovations such as contactless payments or mobile Wallets including MasterPass have created a new consumer-retailer experience”.

The power of technology in making the Digital Age work for consumers goes beyond the purchasing experience and addresses some of the key challenges of our times. As more and more of us are living in cities, the urban infrastructure and transit systems are under ever increasing pressure, with crowding and congestion impacting resident, visitors and businesses on a daily basis. Digital payment technology can help millions of daily commuters around the world experience faster, more convenient and personalized ways to get around, tapping into the power of their mobile devices.

“One of the greatest examples of how technology and innovation are changing the lives of people around the world is the rise of what we call “smart cities”. MasterCard has been partnering with some of the biggest cities – including London, St. Petersburg or Athens – and with some of the leading technology companies in the world to find smart ways to address these challenges. By converting to a digital, smart-phone based system, transport authorities are able to ensure shorter ticketing times, more efficient non-cash transactions and speedier access to all forms of transport for their citizens.” – added Ann Cairns.

Yet in spite of all the progress a major challenge of modern times remains that almost half of the world’s adult population lack access to basic financial services. They are left without a way to save money for a rainy day, to get loans, or to insure themselves, making it impossible for them to take part in the digital economy. In this case innovations such as prepaid and mobile payments are enabling people to take advantage of formal financial services.

Technology allows governments to find smarter solutions while helping its citizens get out of financial exclusion. One of the recent examples is Carta Acquisti in Italy, a prepaid card-based solution to rapidly deliver benefits to senior citizens and families in a cost-efficient and transparent way.

“Our research and work across more than 500 programs in over 50 countries reaching 150 million previously financially excluded people confirms that it is technology that can break the barriers and offer unlimited potential for global economic growth, productivity and efficiency.” – concluded Ann Cairns.

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