Shamina Singh, President of the MasterCard Center for Inclusive Growth Join Denver Frederick

The following is a conversation between Shamina Singh, President of the MasterCard Center for Inclusive Growth, and Denver Frederick, Host of The Business of Giving on AM 970 The Answer in New York City.

 

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Shamina Singh © Mastercardcenter.org

Denver: Try to imagine your life if you are completely locked out of the financial system. No banking or checking account, no credit or debit card, no record of transactions or credit score, no access to loans or other financial instruments. And many of the records that help prove that you… are you…well, they would have never existed. There are 2 billion such people in that very predicament around the world. The MasterCard Center for Inclusive Growth didn’t think that was right, while also seeing them as potential customers. They decided to do something about it. And here to tell us what that was and is, is their President, Shamina Singh. Good evening, Shamina, and welcome to The Business of Giving.

 

Shamina Singh: Thank you. I’m so glad to be here.

Denver: What is the MasterCard Center for Inclusive Growth?  And what’s your main focus?

Shamina: The MasterCard Center for Inclusive Growth is a relatively new organization that was built to use the assets of MasterCard – technology, money, people, network, expertise – to really look at a very important problem of our time– and that’s income inequality– through the lens of financial inclusion.

Denver: What you’re doing here really plays into your theory of change, which is connecting people to networks. Explain that to us.

Shamina: It’s really interesting. It’s very simple if you start to think about it, but it’s not something I thought about every day. But the truth is that there are these informal and formal networks that drive the modern economy. They’re either social networks like Facebook, like SnapChat, things like that. There are physical networks like water, electricity, Internet.  And then there are these virtual networks like your banking account if you’re transacting online. You’re buying and selling online – commerce. Letters of recommendation and referral. These things that connect you up into possibility, and to what we call productivity, that allow you to maximize your own talents and resources. So if you think about these networks, there are a lot of barriers to these networks. There are a lot of enablers to these networks, and there are a lot of barriers.

So, what the Center is really trying to do is look at these networks in a very scientific way, but also a very real, methodical way to say, “How do we figure out how to break down the barriers to the various networks that stop people from reaching their economic potential?” Or more focused, “How do we help business and entrepreneurs, in particular, reach their full potential as business owners?”

Denver: Interesting. Before we get too deep into the work of the Center, MasterCard is a bit of an enigma to many people. Some people think it’s a credit card company; other people think it’s a bank. Perhaps it’s neither. What is MasterCard?

Shamina: I think it’s a great question to level set for everybody. It’s interesting because I’m somebody who comes out of the public sector. So I spent my whole life working for labor unions, for grassroots activist organizations, for the government. So if you would have told me…I don’t even know 10 or 15 years ago… that I’d be working for a company that basically connects buyers and sellers through technology. I wouldn’t have predicted it in a hundred years.

But again, if you think about the power of that technology, and that’s really what MasterCard is. It’s the rails that connect buyers and sellers who can’t see each other. So for example, if you shop online at any platform company… or Etsy… or whatever, and you swipe that card or you tap that phone or whatever, that information, usually, if you’re using a MasterCard, goes on that network, and they will transfer the information that says, “You’re Denver, I’m Shamina, you have money in your account, you want to get money from his account to purchase a product, let’s go ahead, make this transaction happen.” And it happens in less than a blink of an eye. So, that’s some serious technology, and it’s in 212 places around the world, connecting billions of people with millions of banks and opportunities to buy and sell.

Denver: Speaking of billions of people, as we said, there are 2 billion people who are currently locked out of any form of financial system. What are some of the barriers they face that prevent them from being included?

Shamina: I’ll give you a really personal example. And just to put perspective on 2 billion, by the way, so think about 7 billion people in the world, 2 billion completely cut off, but probably 4 billion who are off and on, inside the formal and the informal economy. That’s important because for me personally, I’m a first generation – my parents are from India.  And when my mother was born, she was born without formal identification. So it’s a little known fact that not every country in the world provides a piece of paper that says, “I’m Shamina Singh, this is where I’m born, this is who I say I am.”

When you don’t have that recognition from a government or from some sort of third party entity, it’s really hard to do things like go to college, go to school, get a bank account, get connected up into a network that gives you access beyond your own geographical space. So that’s what financial exclusion is really about. It’s about the inability and the problems that come when you’re confined geographically to where you live, and you can’t really transact beyond yourself or beyond the person next to you because all you have is a currency – a piece of paper, cash, whatever. So if you’re not included in a financial economy, you’re really living in a world that is very confined.

So that’s what financial exclusion is really about. It’s about the inability and the problems that come when you’re confined geographically to where you live, and you can’t really transact beyond yourself or beyond the person next to you because all you have is a currency – a piece of paper, cash, whatever. So if you’re not included in a financial economy, you’re really living in a world that is very confined.

Denver: Yes. I think in the case of your mom, they use a rope to keep track of her age.

Shamina: Yes. You’ve done your research. Oh, my gosh. Yes. So at that time, for girls in the village, they would tie a knot …around the time you’re born and every year… to try to keep track. But if you think about it– Think about my mother. Just staying with that example for a second.. and this idea for networks.

She was born in a village in India. Didn’t have a birth certificate. Grew up in the village and grew up in Delhi. Married my father. They had an arranged marriage… and which was also very productive because I have four sisters, so that was a good thing. But moving from the village to the city, moving from the city, my father moved to the United States to complete his education.  He moved from an area of, at the time, lower productivity, to an area of higher productivity to reach more maximum levels. He brought my mother over with the children and brought us to a place that allowed us to reach even more of our potential.

So it’s really a human example of how networks drive the modern economy. And the closer you are to networks that allow you to achieve your potential or your gifts or your talents, the more successful you’ll be.

The closer you are to networks that allow you to achieve your potential or your gifts or your talents, the more successful you’ll be.

Denver: Well, a good example of that. Does technology play a role in financial inclusion… getting more people included?  And if so, how?

Shamina: Technology is a massive enabler of financial inclusion. I mean, I’ll tell you, and you know this probably from all of your shows and everything you do that this is an enormous time of change. But it’s an enormous time for opportunity. So there is this enormous convergence of technology with things like data, with things like artificial intelligence, but also this enormous need, this enormous amount of human suffering that’s still happening around the world. We have all the tools at our disposal to solve these problems, or at least address the challenges. So what makes me very interested in this work, and to get back to your question about technology, is that we have an enormous enabler of human potential called technology that exists today, that’s constantly changing.

Technology is a massive enabler of financial inclusion…We have an enormous enabler of human potential called technology that exists today, that’s constantly changing.

Denver: Let’s say I’m illiterate. How can technology help me become part of the financial system?

Shamina: If you can’t read, and frankly, this is something we’ve come across in a lot of our work, you have voice recognition sometimes. In some of our projects, especially with government social subsidy programs, a lot of times, we will allow the registration for the program to include a voice recognition… so that if you want to draw down your benefit, or if you want to make a banking transaction, you can simply dial the number on your phone and say, “Hi, I’m Shamina Singh,” voice ID, and then the money comes straight into your account, and then you can start to transact using either your phone or a card or whatever it is that’s easy for you.

Denver: Very cool. A topic that I know interests you deeply is the cost of cash, which is a bit of an oxymoron. Took me awhile to get my arms around that. What is the cost of cash?

Shamina: I know. Did you ever think that there are costs to cash? Here’s what’s interesting about cash. Cash has no friends. Unless there’s some reason why you want to transact in a way that is without identification or without trace. So in that community, cash has a lot of friends.

Denver: In the sketchy community.

Shamina: Well, potentially. The cost of cash, if you think about it—And we’ve actually done studies to show that from a country perspective, it can cost a country anywhere from 0.05% of their GDP all the way to 2% of GDP, depending on how much time, energy, effort, is spent driving cash somewhere, having people guard the cash, transacting in cash in a way that means, depending on where you are, you have to have an enormous amount of security around that cash. Then you have to bundle up the cash at the end of the day, put it in a bag, or do whatever you’re going to do, and then hope that nobody sees you going to your bank to make that late-night deposit into the late-night deposit box. That’s just one example.

…we wanted to really focus on financial inclusion because at the end of the day, not only do we want to make sure people are connected up into the formal economy, but we want to make sure that MasterCard as a business entity isn’t so focused on the top 1% of the world and then they leave everybody else behind.

Denver: Sure. Standing online. All those things. A lot of time involved.

Shamina: A lot of time involved. If you think about maybe for countries who may get their benefits or may get their paychecks and things like that in more physical form, people spend days waiting in line to get their check or their voucher.  And especially with this refugee crisis, you can only imagine how much time people are spending… and how dangerous it is to get your refugee aid or your humanitarian aid in the form of money. Maybe you’re living in a camp and so you’re surrounded by people who are in a very tough predicament. So there are enormous physical costs to cash and economic costs of cash, and what we found is that 85% of transactions in the world today are still done in cash. Only 15% are actually digital. So if you think of a company like MasterCard, that’s an enormous amount of actual running room in terms of the business proposition, which is also the other reason why we wanted to really focus on financial inclusion because at the end of the day, not only do we want to make sure people are connected up into the formal economy, but we want to make sure that MasterCard as a business entity isn’t so focused on the top 1% of the world and then they leave everybody else behind.

Denver: So your competition really is not Visa, it’s cash.

Shamina: Well, I don’t know about that. But if you think about the enormous business opportunity, it’s a world where you really want people to go digital.

Denver: Well, at MasterCard Center, you set a goal to get 500 million more people included in the financial system by 2020. That is one ambitious goal. What exactly will you do to see that will happen?

Shamina: Well, I’ll tell you something. The company…So it’s interesting. Our CEO often says, “We can have the Internet of everything, but without the inclusion of everyone, we haven’t done our job as a company that wants to do well and do good.” So the financial inclusion goal is actually a corporate objective. So it’s written into our MasterCard’s corporate goals, which means when you write something into your corporate goals, it means everybody at the company is measured on it.

Our CEO often says, “We can have the Internet of everything, but without the inclusion of everyone, we haven’t done our job as a company that wants to do well and do good.”

Denver: That’s going to make your life a lot easier.

Shamina: It does. It makes your life a lot easier. But the 500 million is about using our business resources and our philanthropic resources together to make sure we’re not only connecting them up, but we’re doing it in a responsible, purposeful way. So my job in that 500 million piece is to make sure that we are doing it the right way. We have training, we have education programs, we’re testing and learning all the time about what works and what doesn’t.  What does it mean to be financially included; what does it really mean? Does it mean you can transact? Does it mean you can save? Does it mean you can purchase? So looking at all of the issues around it. But the 500 million itself comes from working with governments, usually around the world, to make sure that they transition from—Normally, they’ve been doing cash-based…either taxes or government benefits or pensions or things like that. If you can imagine, in most countries, it’s done in cash and paper, not in electronic. …like how it is in the United States. So, really working with governments to partner with them to make sure that we can work together to digitize their social subsidy programs.

Denver: The other side of it would be the retail side. You have the merchants, and I know you set a goal there of 40 million micro merchants by 2020. What are some of the programs you have in that area?

Shamina: It’s interesting because, like I said, we want to do this the right way. We want to make sure that we’re not including people just to get them connected, and then what we see a lot of times is people will sign up, but then they don’t transact, or they don’t use it. So they’re not really enjoying the benefits of being financially included. You have to include the places where people shop, and you have to include the places where people spend their money, so that once they are financially included, they can actually shop. They can actually use their digital payment or do whatever they’re going to do.

Denver: Merchant has to take it.

Shamina: Merchant has to take it. But the other piece is, because it’s MasterCard, the credibility and the trust that comes when you’re using a digital form of payment is critically important. And that’s a huge lesson. That was a huge lesson for us. To financially include somebody is not enough. They have to trust that when they purchase something or when they leave their money in an account and they can’t see it physically, that what is supposed to happen with their money happens with their money.

Having a brand name like MasterCard where it is accepted all over the world, it’s a really important piece of the equation. So yes, the 500 million through strong programs with governments and businesses and things like that, but also the 40 million on the merchants side, to make sure that the trust between the buyer and the seller is really there. And that’s something that we can deliver on the MasterCard network.

To financially include somebody is not enough. They have to trust that when they purchase something or when they leave their money in an account and they can’t see it physically, that what is supposed to happen with their money happens with their money.

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Shamina Singh and Denver Frederick at the AM970 The Answer Studio

Denver: As you said, part of your job is to be sure that is all done consistent with the values of the MasterCard company.

Shamina: Exactly. The values of the company are there across the board, but what we have the opportunity to do with the Center is put the research behind it. Actually test and learn, like what are the best ways to do it? We have theories on what the right ways to do it are. But really, if you have a company who’s doing this, you get to invest research. You get to test and learn. You get to have focus groups. You get to really look under the hood and say, “Did this intervention work? Why didn’t it work? What can we do better next time?” So it’s a real process of iteration and learning in real time.

Unlike some more traditional think tanks, we at the Center are really learning as we go. So we haven’t made it a practice to spend years on developing some sort of theory and research and a lot of academic work, and then sort of start to test and pilot and learn… spend 15 years trying to figure something out. What we’ve said is, “Look, no.” We have access to an amazing resource with the MasterCard data in the network of people that are all around the world, so why would we sit back? Why don’t we go ahead and get into the market and start working with nonprofit organizations and social enterprises and other learning and teaching organizations to really see what’s happening on the ground and try to understand what businesses really want, versus what we think they want. That’s a difference in how we do our work.

We have access to an amazing resource with the MasterCard data in the network of people that are all around the world, so why would we sit back? Why don’t we go ahead and get into the market and start working with nonprofit organizations and social enterprises and other learning and teaching organizations to really see what’s happening on the ground and try to understand what businesses really want, versus what we think they want. That’s a difference in how we do our work.

Denver: Now, in Silicon Valley, what they say out there is if you’ve developed a product and when you introduce it, people don’t laugh at you, it means you’ve waited too long. So get it out, get the feedback, and get back to the drawing board, and get another one out real fast.

Shamina: Right. Exactly.

Denver:  Another way you would never get this done is if you try to do it yourself – and you have 500 partners.

Shamina: At least.

Denver: At least. That’s right. People such as Mercy Corps which is working with you in Indonesia, people like Grameen. Andrea Jung has been on the show. Tell us a little about your approach to engaging partners and some of the successes that you’ve had with them.

Shamina: Sure. On the 500 number, again, these are businesses, nonprofits, humanitarian aid organizations. We’re not confined to nonprofit and philanthropic. This is across the board. So one example with Grameen since you raised it, we worked with Grameen to help them upgrade their backend technology.

Before, as you’ve learned with Grameen, the women in the Grameen system apply for a loan.  They get some risk underwriting, and they have to go through a whole process to figure it out, and then they may get cash or they’ll get a check or they’ll get something like that, and then they can go on about their businesses. What we worked with Grameen to do, along with Citi and Apple, was to say, “Can we build up the technology in such a way that they can cut the time it takes to do all of that handwritten paper process work, consolidate the risk and the underwriting and the loan documentation and things like that, and then help these women get on their way much faster?” So we invested in the technology to help ensure that, I think it’s 70,000 entrepreneurs are now transacting digitally versus using that paper product and that paper process. I think it has been an enormously helpful intervention for that.

The work of the humanitarian organizations is so important and our partnership with them is profound. What we’re working with them to do, is say, “Instead of shipping all of these tents and all of these things from around the world bringing the grain in, why not work with the local host economy to feed their economy in such a way that the aid goes to the refugees themselves?”

Denver: I bet it has. Let us turn our attention, Shamina, to humanitarian aid for a moment. What happens often is that people receive these paper vouchers, and then they go to the concession or whatever, and they are entitled to receive some water and some blankets and some tents. How can a digital system make that process more efficient and more effective?

Shamina: Right. Think about what you just said. Imagine if you have the stress of being on the run, if you will. So you’ve left your home. You’ve left everything you’ve ever known, and you’re moving and you’re walking to another country, another place. The last thing you want to think about is how you’re going to feed your family. That’s all you’re thinking about. But that’s the last thing you should have to worry about.

The other thing that we learned is the dignity. So you have left everything, and you’re trying to figure out who you are again. The work of the humanitarian organizations is so important, and our partnership with them is profound. What we’re working with them to do, is say, “Instead of shipping all of these tents and all of these things from around the world… bringing the grain in…, why not work with the local host economy to feed their economy in such a way that the aid goes to the refugees themselves?”

Denver: That’s very smart.

Shamina: So that the refugee has  the choice on how they purchase, what they buy, what they need the money for, and it feeds the local economy. So they’re going in with a MasterCard into a grocery store, and they’re buying the food that they need for their family just like anybody else. So it not only raises their productivity, right? So it not only allows them to transact and live and assimilate much more quickly into the community, but it provides a level of dignity and a respect that is much less punitive. It shouldn’t be. So we really value the partnerships with World Food Program, Mercy Corps, the International Rescue Committee, Save the Children. These are all organizations doing incredible work, and the opportunity to help them do it better is absolutely rewarding.

Denver: I would imagine it also helps eliminate a lot of the corruption because when you have a piece of paper with a bunch of things on it, you give it to somebody and they give you one thing back. and you don’t know if you’re going to get the other items there. So it really is a wonderful safeguard in that regard.

Shamina: Exactly. And that’s the bit about working on the ground hand-in-hand. Because one of the things we found is that even if you have a paper voucher that says, “You’re allowed to have 10 bushels of corn, or two bags of rice, or 10 bottles of water,” if you take that piece of paper sometimes to people who are not as interested in being fair or transparent, they might say, “We’re going to take your piece of paper that says you get 10 bushels of corn. We’re only going to give you two. But if you want the two, give us the piece of paper for the 10, and then we’re going to trade that 10 on the black market.”

So unless the customer is in charge and has an ability to transact just like you or me, it really opens the door to a lot of corruption, a lot of fraud, and a lot of wasted taxpayer dollars. Because remember, at the end of the day, this aid is coming from countries or charitable contributions that are from people who are working hard for their money. So you want to make sure that every dollar we invest as a person or a country or a community, is spent in the best way.

Denver: Yes, absolutely. Some of these middlemen can be scurrilous,  there’s no question about it. MasterCard went public. It took 10% of its stock, and it set up the MasterCard Foundation. Does the Center for Inclusive Growth work with the foundation to see that your efforts help complement and enhance one another?

Shamina: Kind of. I want to be very clear about this because it’s important, and I think it’s a real model, frankly, for what we’re seeing in the world when everybody’s going public. When MasterCard went public, 10% of its stock went into creating a separate, independent foundation that is organized in Canada. They have a separate board; they have separate governance structure. At the time, people didn’t think of it as a big deal. But if you look at it now, that $500-million-dollar grant of stock has created a foundation that is valued anywhere between $ 12, 14, 16 billion dollars. That’s a big deal.

So we often say, “Gosh, wouldn’t it be great if other companies who go public would just take 10% of their stock and create an independent foundation?” We haven’t seen a lot of it, but it would be nice if we did. But the point of it is, when you have a foundation that is such a large shareholder in your company, it really drives the DNA and the purpose of the company. So it is very difficult to be at a place like MasterCard when your largest shareholder is a foundation and not have some sense of purpose about the work that you’re doing.

I’m the liaison to the foundation, and so there’s an enormous amount of collegiality and partnership. But we don’t cross over in terms of our programmatic work.

When you have a foundation that is such a large shareholder in your company, it really drives the DNA and the purpose of the company.

Denver: It’s all informal, you know what I mean, in terms of just communicating. Got you. When we’re addressing this issue of financial inclusion, I think a lot of us think of emerging markets and the developing world. But MasterCard is also doing something here in the United States. In fact, you just finished a series of roundtables and panels around the country entitled “On the Front Lines of Inclusive Growth.” How financially inclusive are we in this country right now?

Shamina: We have a ways to go. I’m born and raised in Southern Virginia and did a lot of work in Texas. So for us, this was really about looking in our own backyard and to say “What can we be doing as a company to solve problems right here at home?” I’m happy to say that we started our outreach before the elections, so this has nothing to do with the election or anything.  But before building a strategy and before saying “Here’s what we think is wrong, and here’s what we think is the solution,” we said “Let’s pull a team of people together and go talk to everybody.” So we actually went on the road for about six months and went into towns and roundtables and cities and talked to everybody we could talk to, to get a real sense of what’s happening on the ground and how can we– because we can’t solve malaria–help. And what should we do to help?  And we got some really interesting feedback.

Denver: What did you hear?

Shamina: Okay, so one of the things that we heard is not going to be surprising, but we learned that I think almost one in three working Americans is working a side job. We call it the gig economy. You might be driving an Uber; you might be having an Etsy business; you might be selling pickles out of your home or something like that, but there is no such thing as a traditional job anymore, where you have one job, and that’s the way you live. Everybody’s doing something else or a couple of things. That was really interesting learning for us because it means that we really have an ability now to work with all of the digital platforms like Etsy, like Handy.com, like Uber, like Lyft, and say, “What are the ways that we can help?”

Just an example on the Uber driver: One of the things that they told us was: it’s really hard to settle up at the end of the day. Like we’re doing this because we need money in real time. So for us to wait two weeks or wait a week after we finish a shift to get our money is really a problem. So we actually went to a MasterCard product team and said, “This is the issue.” And they said, “We have something called MasterCard Send that will settle up in real time.” So now, the Uber driver, if they want, can settle up immediately when their shift is over, and it allows them to get the money straight into their account, which is a godsend. It may not sound like a huge thing for us, but if you’re somebody who’s doing the shift work basically, you solved a real problem by making sure that that technology got that money to you in the time that you really needed it.

Denver: Let me ask you about Blockchain, and that is the underlying protocol of which BitCoin, the digital currency, rests. What it allows for is to decentralize authentication as opposed to centralize authentication, and it really does have some extraordinary potential to revolutionize the financial system. I know MasterCard is experimenting with Blockchain; now you’re doing a whole bunch of other things with it. What’s your take on it, Shamina? And do you think it will become as big as a lot of people are talking?

Shamina: Okay, so my take on Blockchain is different from my take on BitCoin. The separation between the currency itself and the technology, I think, is really important. I think Blockchain is an enormous opportunity to flatten the playing field, if you will, and to have decisions made very quickly that are disaggregated and decentralized. I think for a company like MasterCard, if you’re focused on payment, if your core business is buying and selling and making sure that people can buy and sell as quickly and as easily as possible, then you would try to utilize every technology that’s out there. If Blockchain becomes one of those technologies that allow for the very efficient buying of product and service, then I would imagine that that’s another rail that we want to make sure that we’re part of.

Denver: Let’s us turn to another realm of your work, and there are huge and enormous inequalities in access to data information and the ability to use it. It’s a “data divide,” I guess you would say.  And on the other side of that divide, unfortunately, are social sector organizations and nonprofits. MasterCard is dedicated to closing this gap through something called “data philanthropy.” Tell us what this is about and what you’re doing.

Shamina: Well, it’s an enormously important issue. I think we’re all focused on income and equality, and we feel it, and we know what that is.  But I think one of the things that we found at the MasterCard Center is that there’s an information inequality gap that is real and growing very fast. If don’t tackle that information inequality gap, income inequality is not going to be something that we’re going to even remember. The ability to process information to make better decisions, to analyze, is enormously important.

Denver: The bigger game.

Shamina: The bigger game. So think about people—Everybody hears about big data. Everybody hears about artificial intelligence, machine learning, and things like that. You’re hearing about it, but you’re hearing about it on the business side of the house, which is fantastic because it’s very powerful. But what we’re trying to do at the Center is  say, “We would like to work with social sector organizations and government organizations to make sure that they are also benefiting from the enormous power of data.”

So we are working with some social organizations to say, “How can we either help you understand your own data better in a way that helps you make better decisions and faster decisions?” In some situations, we’re actually working with universities like Harvard. We gave them a data grant. I don’t know if it’s one of the first data grants that I’ve ever heard about, but they have a very interesting research proposal and they said, “If we have access to MasterCard transaction data, it would really help accelerate our learnings around the importance of knowledge and how business transactions are really helping solve problems in countries.” So we said, “Okay, let’s try it.” So for the first time, we gave a data grant. We gave them access to data in a way that really helped them.

The last thing I’ll say about this is that if we think about philanthropy and we think about corporate social responsibility, that’s about using a company’s assets for social good. So let’s look at our assets as a company and our core competency. It can be money, but money’s not enough. The check writing days are over around corporate responsibility. What you really want when you’re partnering with a company is to use their assets, their brains. For MasterCard, data expertise is a core competency, and one that we want to use to help change the world.

If we think about philanthropy and we think about corporate social responsibility, that’s about using a company’s assets for social good. So let’s look at our assets as a company and our competency. It can be money, but money’s not enough. The check writing days are over around corporate responsibility. What you really want when you’re partnering with a company is to use their assets, their brains.

Denver: Yes. That’s where the multiplier really kicks. Where a check is just a check, this really has—

Shamina: There’s an end point. There’s an exponential partnership that you can have when you’re really utilizing the expertise of an organization.

Denver: Let me close with this, Shamina. Your work spans the globe. Is there any particular place or community where your efforts have been particularly successful and gratifying in including more people in the financial system?  And what has that transformation been as a result?

Shamina: Well, you go every day, and you can see it, right? So I look in New York City and I’m a New Yorker. So I have to go from a subway to a bus, sometimes to an Access-A-Ride, and then I just kind of look at the city in a whole different way now that I’m working for a company that connects technology and networks.

So I see an enormous amount of potential. There have been places where I’ve seen the thing work. So South Africa, I would say, is a government program that we worked with the South African Social Security Agency to register 20 million South Africans in under one year. Those South Africans now all have bank accounts and they’re transacting digitally on their social benefit side which has transformed their lives in a real way.

But I also walk around places like New York City, and I look at the potential.  And even here at home, I want everybody’s life to be better. So the work is never going to be finished, and I’m just delighted that I get to be in a position where I can focus on it.

Denver: Well, you seem to be a very happy person.

Shamina: I’m a tired person, but it’s also a very gratifying experience.

Denver: Well, Shamina Singh, the President of the MasterCard Center for Inclusive Growth, I want to thank you so much for being here this evening. For listeners interested in learning more about this work, where can they go to find that information?

Shamina: They can go to MasterCardCenter.org.

Denver: Thanks, Shamina. It was a real pleasure to have you on the program.

Shamina: Thank you.

 

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Shamina Singh and Denver Frederick

 


The Business of Giving can be heard every Sunday evening between 6:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. Eastern on AM 970 The Answer in New York and on iHeartRadio. You can follow us @bizofgive on Twitter, @bizofgive on Instagram and at http://www.facebook.com/BusinessOfGiving

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