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Mastercard Partners to Digitally Empower Small Businesses in Latin America

Bancolombia, Banco Galicia, Citibanamex and Mercado Libre are part of the Partnership, committed to accelerate business recovery and inclusive growth efforts in the region.

As the digital economy in Latin America grows exponentially, despite the COVID-fueled downturn; business must use its power and resources to build an inclusive economy in the region — which could be a game changer for so many.

The Tech for Good Partnership — spearheaded by Mastercard — pledges to use their collective resources, assets, and expertise to prioritize digital and financial inclusion efforts in the wake of COVID-19. Founding partners include banking giants Bancolombia, Banco Galicia and Citibanamex; and fintechs Mercado Libre (Latin America’s answer to eBay) and PayPal.

Initially, the founding partners will focus on developing concrete initiatives in specific markets to expand basic financial services — such as long-standing access to credit, disbursements of much-need financial aid, and educational tools and resources to the millions of vulnerable Latin Americans. Over time, the partners will share best practices and initiative outcomes with the broader financial services industry for the betterment of the ecosystem — via virtual events, white papers and other publications.

The alliance was largely inspired by the CEO Partnership for Economic Inclusion (CEOP); and extends the objectives, efforts and learnings first established by the global CEOP into the region.

The Latin America tech boom witnessed over the past few years has enabled large swaths of the population to gain access to goods and services during this time of social distancing — but many small and micro businesses still lack the ability to sell their goods online. As Tech for Good partners will work to develop digital resiliency programs for the millions of micro and small businesses currently unable to get back to work. According to Mastercard research, ecommerce has grown exponentially in Latin America — where 54 percent of Colombians, 52 percent of Brazilians and 46 percent of Mexicans have indicated a desire to purchase more online.

“As individuals and small businesses navigate the health and economic implications of the pandemic, they are in need of digital financial tools that put them on a path towards long-term financial security,” said Mike Froman, vice chairman of Mastercard.  "The idea behind the Tech for Good Partnership is that leaders in the private sector can come together and harness their best assets — tools, technology, insights and expertise — in order to put the digital economy to work for individuals and small businesses in the region. We look forward to working with all of our partners during a time when innovation and digital solutions are needed more than ever.”

Earlier this year, Mastercard pledged to bring a total of 1 billion people and 50 million micro and small businesses into the digital economy by 2025. As part of this effort, there will be a direct focus on providing 25 million female entrepreneurs with solutions that can help them grow their businesses — the Tech for Good Partnership will play a critical role in working towards achieving this global goal. Mastercard’s Center for Inclusive Growth’s partnership network and expertise in leveraging digital financial services to unlock economic opportunities for entrepreneurs and communities will also support financial inclusion efforts in Latin America.

“The realities brought forth by COVID-19 include an accelerated need for digital financial services around the world and particularly, in emerging countries. Electronic and touch-free payment methods are important especially in stores, where the exchange of physical cash is greater. Also, beyond payments, it’s key that more people have access to other financial services such as credit and savings,” said Osvaldo Giménez, CEO of Mercado Pago, Mercado Libre’s payment platform. “Thanks to this partnership, we have the possibility to add on to efforts toward financial inclusion, which presents an opportunity for development and growth for Latin America.”

The Tech for Good Partnership represents the first high-level, private-private partnership to further digital and financial inclusion in the region. The Partners have already been championing efforts independently and are now committed to leveraging each other’s strengths to create transformative business models and improve people’s financial lives.

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