Barcelona – The annual forum of Mastercard “Connecting Tomorrow” started on Tuesday in Barcelona and will last till Thursday, with the hashtag #ConnectingTomorrow.
The 2018 edition will take place under the theme of ‘Creating the Road Map for the Future’, had gathered Mastercard leadership from the Middle East, industry leaders and key names of innovation in the world, such as Steve Wozniak, computer scientist and co-founder of Apple and Jonas Kjellberg, founder of Skype and author of ‘Gear Up Test Your Business’.
Raghu Malhotra, president of the Middle East and Africa (MEA) of Mastercard, stressed, in the inauguration session, that the speed of innovation in MEA had accelerated and that it reflects the change of quality and infrastructure into how to integrate this growth.
“The number of consumers of Mastercard in 25 years in MEA is the same in the last five years and became the same in 2018,” he said.
Malhotra explained that customising solutions for each local market in MEA is one of the main objectives of this forum. That shows, he added, the importance of concluding new companies and new partnerships now to boost the technology in the region. “The technology is at the forefront of growth today and trust in technology is the main gate to boost the economy. We need to work together to make it”, said the president of the Middle East and Africa of Mastercard.
He added that the world is changing faster than at any other time in human history. Today, more people currently have access to a mobile phone than safe water or reliable energy—a trend driven by more affordable handsets, improved network infrastructure, and lower data costs.
That is why, said Malhotra, Technology is transforming how consumers live and work and how businesses build products and services for the digital economy to how governments develop cities that are dynamic, liveable and include all segments of society. It is also rapidly changing how people pay and get paid. Increasingly, they have an expectation that moving money should be easy and immediate, with the assurance that their information, identity and money is safe.
“These trends are driving a rapid evolution in payments, with technology and data generated from the internet of things (IoT) presenting a huge opportunity to spur the transition in payments from cash—which still comprises 85% of world’s consumer payments—towards smarter, safer, and more inclusive digital payments”, he said.
In this context, Malhotra stressed that Mastercard is leading this digital transformation, adding, “since our beginnings more than 50 years ago, we have been at the forefront of innovation—beyond just the payment transaction—to achieve our vision of “a world beyond cash.’”
We have entrenched a culture that fosters creativity, and curiosity—where the business of innovation, is everyone’s business, not just the purview of the R&D team, he elaborated.
Following a structured innovation approach that aligns with our business strategy, we can move from ideation to prototyping and commercialization, quickly. And through our employee programmes like Innovation Express and take Initiative, employees can take a step back from their day-to-day jobs to solve everyday challenges and pain points, developing new solutions that can potentially be commercialised.
But, what makes the company successful is the understanding that success does not come from operating in silos; it is a result of collaboration and co-creation between established companies, today’s entrepreneurs and developers as we lay the roadmap for the future. “This is essential to drive scale, interoperability, and ubiquity of digital solutions and services,” said the president of Mastercard MEA.
Mastercard anticipated new technology trends and built solutions for a better digital future in partnership with retailers, banks, fintech, developers, and governments. Also, it delivered new and safer ways to pay and get paid by using technology that is designed not only to increase security, but improve the payment journey for our customers and consumers.
“We are making the future possible by bringing innovation to every aspect of life and business in a way that empowers people, unlocks business potential, and grows economies,” he concluded.
Based in Dubai, Malhotra is responsible for driving the company’s global strategy across 69 markets and has led the company’s transition to become a pioneer in bringing new electronic payment solutions and services to the region, spanning safety, security, data, and artificial intelligence—and helping to advance social progress and inclusive growth.
Under his leadership, Mastercard has expanded its collaboration with central governments and public sector authorities across the Middle East and Africa, partnering to enhance the region’s infrastructure and digital ecosystem. In support of this, Mastercard has developed and launched a number of technology ‘global-firsts’ that are impacting the lives of millions of people: empowering citizens and businesses by creating interoperable mobile ecosystems; launching lending platforms which digitise and revolutionise supply chain management; bringing new levels of security to online and in-store purchases with path-breaking biometric technology; and introducing new energy and agriculture digital solutions to enable greater access and financial inclusion.