Smarter Cities Must Be Financially Inclusive, Too

October 23, 2018

By 2050, about 70 percent of the world’s population will live in cities. More than half do today.

Beyond the buildings and infrastructure, at the heart of any city is its people. They define the culture, the cuisine, the industry. And as cities get smarter, we must ensure that all citizens are included, especially those who could still fall through the cracks.

Today roughly two billion adults globally don’t have a bank account. Trapped by cash, they lack the tools to manage their money, avoid risk, invest in the future and build better lives. If they are provided with financial stability and choice, they will be poised to capitalize on and benefit from economic opportunities while sidestepping cash-centric barriers – in mass transit, wage distribution, social benefits and more.

At Mastercard, we have a vision for solving this problem…to create an inclusive future for all. It relies on what we know – payment technology and data – and using those capabilities to spur access and economic growth for all, with attention to emerging needs of gig-workers and micro-entrepreneurs. And all the while, maintaining a keen focus on security, data privacy and ease of use.

But we can’t do it alone. Through our Inclusive Futures Program, and other initiatives driven by our Center for Inclusive Growth, we are collaborating with like-minded public and private partners to build solutions that do good and do well – especially in North America’s cities. For instance, Mastercard and, the world’s leading online service for finding and managing family care, are providing caregivers with real-time payments for services rendered along with financial management tools to make it easier to plan, save and pay. As part of that we created a prepaid card that allows caregivers to automatically earn Care Benefit Bucks that they can use towards health insurance and everyday necessities every time they’re paid on

Today, I was part of a the panel – “Smarter Cities: The Role of Tech in Solving Urban Challenges” – at Money 2020 with Dallas Mayor Michael S. Rawlings and Trudy Norris-Grey, who heads Microsoft’s innovative, digital transformation project, CityNext. We had the opportunity to share our vision of what public/private partnerships can enable for a city and how, at the heart of it, lies trust and a willingness to experiment with new ideas and new technologies – whether that’s using data to ease traffic congestion, improve mass transit efficiency or combine payment capabilities with city issued identification cards – we share a common purpose.

That purpose is to help create a prosperous future that is available and accessible and inclusive of all.

Payments matter because people matter. And partnerships among likeminded corporate, government and NGO organizations can identify and bring to market smart solutions for cities and their citizens. In doing so, we can put payments to work for more people and create sustainable cities for all.