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Is a difference in seconds truly significant? In swimming and racing, seconds make all of the difference for who comes out on top. In technology, we see this same idea carried across in relation to proximity: the product moves closer to the demand. Companies that prioritize proximity are most successful, and one of these companies is Mastercard.

Mastercard began as “Master Charge” in 1966 and was founded by a group of California banks that formed the Interbank Card Association (ICA). With the union and assistance of more banks, Master Charge changed its name to Mastercard in 1979 and went on to reach global expansion and obtain the success that we know it for today.

Mastercard takes the lead

Mastercard has flourished into a leading technology company in the global payments industry. If we look at its average stock prices from 2015 to 2020, and compare that against the S&P 500 to see how other large companies performed during that same time, we see that Mastercard has notably augmented by 234%, compared to a 56% increase for S&P 500.

When considering the value of Mastercard, represented by the market cap, Mastercard has increased by 208% from 2015 to 2020 and was worth $131.74 B at the end of 2020. This market cap value is more than General Motors ($63.58 B), Ford Motor ($37.14 B), American Airlines ($8.35 B), and United Airlines ($14.33 B) at the same time period.

Prioritizing proximity

When we take a closer look at Mastercard’s innovations, we notice that they are oriented toward shaving seconds off of the time it takes for the customer to identify and receive what they want – in other words, “proximity.”  Their prioritization of proximity, progressiveness, efficiency, and connectivity makes their innovations quite successful:

  • Shopping in the palm of your hand: The Shop Anywhere platform creates a personal shopping experience with no checkout lines nor face-to-face interactions, and with secure payments, and special merchandise and extended shopping hours online by select merchants. Mastercard has created an ideal environment that provides customers with “frictionless” shopping that takes seconds.
  • Where does it come from?: The Mastercard Provenance Solution is backed by blockchain and allows customers to scan QR codes on products to track their origin. In this way, customers can be more confident in products, trust will be carried across industries, and sales will go up.
  • Do you have Wi-Fi?: Funded by Mastercard, the Spatial Equity Tool from Urban Institute uses advanced technology to allow cities to use a map to visualize what communities have access to Wi-Fi. This technology can assist in serving underfunded communities in an innovative, quick way.
  • One key fits all: Having one digital solution to pay for bills and public transportation, and to access city services would be incredibly convenient and useful. City Key does exactly that, and with the growing use of the Mastercard City Key, cities are becoming more connected and progressive.
  • The perfect city: Mastercard has added technology from ZenCity, an impressive company that uses AI to obtain information from the public through social media and city websites. After gathering plentiful data, city authorities are able to tend to the concerns of their people and improve the cities. Ultimately, ZenCity cuts down proximity of city improvements and citizen satisfaction.
  • Analyzing how communities fare: The Inclusive Growth Score from Mastercard takes data from the U.S. census and other open data to report a number that determines how well communities are faring. This method provides awareness of which communities need the most help, and where investments should be made so that jobs can grow, and poverty can diminish.
  • Finding a parking spot: Mastercard and HERE Technologies together are working to create a more connected and easier parking experience: pay from your car’s dashboard and get notified with how many parking spaces are open nearby. Lower the stress of finding parking!
  • Biometrics for verification: In another one of Mastercard’s ways to make paying faster and easier without passwords, they’ve developed Identity Check Mobile that uses fingerprint and facial recognition to verify a cardholder’s identity at checkout online. Your body is bringing you ever closer to delivery of your purchase.
  • Using green to be green: The Priceless Planet Coalition is a project from Mastercard to plant 100 million trees in five years. The customer spends a certain amount at certain stores, or can donate directly, and as a result, a tree is planted. Mastercard is also working on releasing software that tells you your carbon footprint based on your spending and what ways you can reduce your carbon footprint based on these spending habits. Who knew green money could mean so much more?
  • “You’re in good hands”: Mastercard has collaborated with Allstate to deposit coverage directly into your bank account by simply calling Allstate and reading your card information. The fastest insurance reparations ever.
  • Moving away from the traditional card: Mastercard has developed technology that allows the customer to pay by tapping their card, smartphone, or watch. Paying has never been so handsfree and quick.
  • Click to Pay: Mastercard has eliminated passwords and the hassle of typing in payment information during online checkout. They ensure sophisticated device detection and fraud protection so the customer can safely shop within seconds.
  • Digital Priceless Experiences: Mastercard has worked hard to create a series of online, global, virtual experiences to connect people, provide entertainment, and learn new arts.
  • Supporting small businesses and healthcare: RiskRecon, a Mastercard company, is offering small businesses 90 days of free cybersecurity assessments. RiskRecon has also partnered with Health Information Sharing and Analysis Center (H-ISAC) and provided free cybersecurity analyses to all healthcare organizations through 2020.
  • No signature, no germs: While using your Mastercard in store, customers may be prompted with an option to sign, but Mastercard no longer requires signatures. This way customers can reduce contact with potentially contaminated surfaces.


Mastercard has found a way to generate more value than the competition and beat the market over an extended period of time. By focusing on shaving valuable seconds off of your customers’ experience, you too can accomplish this success.

Imagine a world in which you can pay without a password, have insurance payments sent directly to your account, reduce your carbon footprint through your spending habits, find and pay for parking on the go, and voice your concerns to city officials.

The advancement of our businesses will help drive a compelling and exciting possible future, together.

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Recommended Leverage Points
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