Mastercard’s Center for Inclusive Growth (The Center) and Consumers International have agreed a new partnership to progress a comprehensive global effort aimed at improving protection and empowerment for vulnerable consumers in the digital finance sector. The project seeks to establish a new community of stakeholders. This includes digital financial service providers, regulatory bodies, consumer advocates, and technology companies. The ultimate aim is to address the increasing complexity of the digital finance ecosystem.

Consumers’ lack of voice

Consumer advocates worldwide note only 20% of consumers are included in deliberations about design of new technologies in their country. This lack of voice means that risks for vulnerable consumers in digital finance are not effectively addressed or anticipated. In addition, solutions are not effectively designed for the people they are intended for.

The grant is made by the Mastercard Center, through the Mastercard Impact Fund. It will accelerate the research and development of a global framework for consumer protection and empowerment in new and emerging digital infrastructure to ensure the potential of these platforms is realised. The effort is focused on driving consumer protection frameworks. The focus is on underserved populations, that keep pace with the rapid evolution of the digital finance landscape.

Initiative to focus on up to 12 target countries

The countries to benefit will be identified based on representative digital finance ecosystems and consumer advocacy presence. The initiative will incorporate collaboration with local stakeholders to identify and elevate the voice, needs and well-being of vulnerable consumers. Outputs will prioritise driving trusted digital experiences that go beyond access to ensure quality service.

The need to ramp up consumer protection

“Consumer protection frameworks and systems have simply not kept up with these surging levels of complexity. They no longer work to inform, protect, and empower consumers effectively. As a result, consumers are subject to significantly increased risks such as fraud and scams. These reduce consumer trust and stall progress. This is particularly the case for lower income consumers, women, and other consumers with systemic vulnerabilities,” said Helena Leurent, Director General of Consumers International.

“Working in partnership with Mastercard, we can unlock unique perspectives and unite a global community behind consumer financial health and wellbeing with consumer protection at its core.”

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“Technology is best used when it works for us – not against us. As the digital finance ecosystem evolves, it is incumbent upon all stakeholders to ensure advances drive benefit to everyone, everywhere,” added Shamina Singh, founder and president of the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth. “Our partnership with Consumers International will ensure that new schemes and solutions are built not just with, but for the people they serve.”