How Mastercard Is Trying To Give Back Through ‘Data Philanthropy’

How Mastercard Is Trying To Give Back Through ‘Data Philanthropy’
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Instead of simply donating money, Mastercard wants to improve financial inclusion using its wealth of data

Jiwon Kim
  • 4 september 2017

While companies engage in traditional methods of philanthropy, like creating foundations that donate money to organizations, they are also exploring more innovative means of giving back. From engaging employees in pro bono work to providing services directly to the public, companies are utilizing their resources and connections to do more than give a lump sum. Mastercard did an assessment of their best offerings then decided to open-source its transaction data to help other companies as well as the public and nonprofit sector achieve better financial inclusion—especially in the developing world. The company launched its Center for Inclusive Growth, an independent subsidiary, in 2013.

The private sector has some of the best resources when it comes to collecting data. A company like Mastercard has reach all across the globe, making it possible to collect tremendous amounts of valuable data and reveal significant patterns and information that can be used to improve society as a whole. To leverage Mastercard data for social good, the Center for Inclusive Growth will, for example, identify an issue that requires better data and analysis. Then it conducts an analysis and releases any relevant findings.

Mastercard partnered with White House’s Data Driven Justice Initiative under the Obama Administration and used data to work towards criminal justice reform. Specifically, they performed an analysis that showed the impact of crime on small businesses and local job opportunities in Baltimore. Through a partnership with Unilever, the Center for Inclusive Growth is working with Kenyan shop owners to give them access to digital payment capabilities. Their payments to Unilever and purchases by customers are tracked, allowing Mastercard to collect and analyze the data to provide what is similar to a credit score. Since there is no formal credit score system in Kenya, this gives shop owners an opportunity to take out loans from local banks.

Through this work, Mastercard is able to help different organizations create sustainable and feasible solutions by assessing vital data, thanks to their significant knowledge on individual spending patterns and other data-related information.

Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth

While companies engage in traditional methods of philanthropy, like creating foundations that donate money to organizations, they are also exploring more innovative means of giving back. From engaging employees in pro bono work to providing services directly to the public, companies are utilizing their resources and connections to do more than give a lump sum. Mastercard did an assessment of their best offerings then decided to open-source its transaction data to help other companies as well as the public and nonprofit sector achieve better financial inclusion—especially in the developing world. The company launched its Center for Inclusive Growth, an independent subsidiary, in 2013.

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