Mastercard, Consumers International fuel fair digital consumer protection worldwide.

Consumers International (CI) and the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth (The Center) have partnered to improve protection and empowerment for vulnerable consumers in the digital finance sector. The initiative, which brings together digital financial service providers, regulatory bodies, consumer advocates, and technology companies, will establish a global framework for consumer protection and empowerment in digital infrastructure. The partnership will initially focus on up to a dozen countries with representative digital finance ecosystems and strong consumer advocacy presence.

  • The project addresses the lack of consumer involvement in technology design, with estimates suggesting that only 20% of consumers are included in such deliberations in their respective countries.
  • The partnership received funding from the Mastercard Impact Fund and aims to accelerate research and development towards the global framework.
  • The initiative will focus on fostering consumer protection frameworks for underserved populations and ensure these can adapt to the fast evolution of the digital finance landscape.
  • The eventual goal is to create trusted digital experiences that offer quality service, beyond just access.
  • CI and The Center will collaborate with local stakeholders to better address the needs and well-being of vulnerable consumers.

Consumer advocates have long noted that the lack of user involvement and voice in technology design often leads to consumer protection risks not being effectively addressed nor anticipated. This is particularly prominent for lower-income consumers, women, and those with systemic vulnerabilities, says Helena Leurent, Director General of Consumers International. According to her, the existing consumer protection frameworks and systems are outdated and have not managed to keep up with the increasing levels of complexity. This exposes consumers to increased risks such as fraud and scams, which in turn reduces consumer trust and progress.

The partnership will ensure that newly developed schemes and solutions are not only built with the intended user group, but also for them. It will play an essential role in driving regulation, evolving business practices and fostering transparency within the digital finance sector.