The Business Year

Gaurang Shah Executive Vice President, Product & Engineering-EEMEA, Mastercard

UAE - Economy

Gaurang Shah

Executive Vice President, Product & Engineering-EEMEA, Mastercard

Bio

Prior to his current role, Gaurang Shah was Mastercard’s digital payments and innovation head for MEA and before that MENA division lead for global processing. He also successfully led the region’s safety and security agenda by conceptualizing and executing the fraud solutions strategy. He has implemented several key initiatives across the region since joining Mastercard in April 2013. He has over 20 years of experience in digitalization, technology, banking, and payments, working at firms like Infosys, ICICI Bank, and Visa. He graduated from the Indian School of Business (affiliated to Kellogg’s, Wharton and London Business School) with a master’s degree in business administration, which he pursued soon after graduating top of his class as a chemical engineer from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT).

Sustainability has become a core component of Mastercard’s efforts in the last few years, with initiatives to reduce plastic waste and help consumers track the environmental impact of their spending.

What key milestones has Mastercard achieved in the past two years?

Our greatest milestone was supporting, appreciating and celebrating everyone’s resiliency, at work or home over the course of the pandemic. We doubled down on our mission to build a connected, inclusive and sustainable economy where everyone has the opportunity to thrive, by tapping into the power of technology to bring more locally relevant digital solutions to market. Our target is to connect 1 billion people to the digital economy by the end of 2025, and we have already reached more than 675 million people. We have seen an enormous shift in digitization. E-commerce and contactless mobile payments saw more acceleration in the past two years than in the last 10 years. Today, nine out of 10 transactions in most markets, especially in the GCC and UAE, are contactless. Mastercard’s 2022 New Payments Index found that 89% of people in the EEMEA region have used at least one emerging payment method in the last year, the highest of all regions surveyed in the global study. This landscape of accelerated digitization of payments is also good news from an ESG perspective. We are accelerating our own timeline to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and we now plan to reach net zero in 2040, a decade earlier than planned. In 2022, we also connected employee compensation to our ESG goals, stressing how important reaching these goals are to us. We are in touch with over 25,000 financial institutions globally, where there are billions of consumers who could be connected to more sustainable solutions. One such product and another milestone for us is our Carbon Calculator, which is a platform connected to banking apps that gives consumers insight into the environmental impact of their spending, based on aggregated data for broad categories. Additionally, we launched a Sustainable Cards Materials Directory to reduce plastic waste and so far over 10 million sustainable cards have been made.

How does Mastercard define sustainability?

For us, there are two key elements. The first one is environmental stewardship to combat climate change, and the second is related to financial inclusion, to ensure equal access to a prosperous life. We are committed to doing well by doing good on both fronts, because they are intricately linked. We have to be responsible for helping communities to grow, and we need to reach those who are not financially included. Financial inclusion means everyone has an identity that enables them to safely transact and keep their money secure. It includes the ability to apply for affordable capital, even if it is small, and to plan for growth. In terms of environmental goals, we are committed to net zero by 2040 and by forming the Priceless Planet Coalition, which now has over 100 partners, we are actively working towards restoring 100 million trees by 2025. Increasing awareness among billions of consumers through our partnerships and B2B model is another one of many important ways we are tackling climate change on a broader scale.

How do you perceive the trilemma between: the consumer, producer, and policymakers regarding sustainability?

There is a high level of sustainability awareness, especially in the UAE and broadly in the GCC. The government is making an explicit effort and commitment to drive sustainability as an agenda. It is happening, and it is something that they push and create policy frameworks for. Consumer awareness, is goal number one. Much work still needs to be done on consumer awareness and giving them information about exactly what is happening, what they can do about it, and how their choices can influence positive outcomes. As an industry, we need to come together to make that happen, by also sharing data in a responsible way. As consumers demand more sustainability solutions, the producers and suppliers want to solve the consumer demands by moving into those practices. This is a virtuous cycle, but I believe the biggest impact creator is consumer awareness at its core.

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