CEO's Perspective:
An Interview with KIKI

Kiki Del Valle – Executive Vice President, Market Development 
(Mastercard Latin America & Caribbean)


K iki Del Valle, Executive Vice President of Market Development for Mastercard Latin America and Caribbean currently oversees the region's corporate strategy and market transformation, and business development efforts with fintech partners, merchant relationships, digital partners, government engagement, and payment service providers for MasterCard. Recently, Kiki was featured as one of the expert leaders on the Leadership Panel session at AMCHAM T&T’s and Republic Bank's 5th Annual Tech Hub Islands Summit (THIS) Conference.

Q1. What key factors contribute to the successful drive for transformational efforts across digital payments in the 45 countries and territories where you operate?
Collaboration with Governments and Regulators: Mastercard's direct partnerships with governments, such as those of Costa Rica, Panama and the Dominican Republic, create new opportunities for businesses by integrating digital solutions, security and ESG principles into national agendas. Together, we enable digital collections and disbursements, promote cashless transactions, provide digital security and financial services training, and foster inclusive and competitive digital economies. These collaborations integrate Mastercard's global experience and technology to improve how people and businesses pay and get paid. Mastercard remains committed to supporting governments in digital transformation initiatives, driving positive change and innovation in a secure environment. 

For example, in Jamaica, the Global Tourism Resilience and Crisis Management Centre signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Mastercard Tourism Innovation Hub, a collaborative model pioneered by Mastercard to promote a more sustainable, resilient and inclusive tourism industry. The MoU will focus on destination tourism strategy, brand and communication, digitalisation of traveller journeys, sustainability and resource management, safety and security, and tourism talent.

Industry Partnerships: Collaborating with industry partners, including financial institutions, merchants and technology providers, plays a significant role in driving digital payment transformation. By joining forces, we can leverage each other's strengths, share expertise and create comprehensive solutions that meet the evolving needs of consumers and businesses. Some examples include Neo Banks such as Qik in the Dominican Republic and Sagicor Digital Bank in Barbados, digital payment platforms like Girasol Payments in Curacao, Dynamic Payments and GCS in the Dominican Republic, and even Caribbean-focused e-commerce marketplaces like Caribshopper.

Customer-Centric Strategies: By the end of the next decade, we’ll witness significant innovations that will shape the future of commerce, transforming how we think about exchanging goods and services and deliver intelligent experiences. This will play out across different areas, including creating immersive commerce journeys and building a sustainable future.

• Immersive Commerce: Digital commerce has transformed how we shop, pay and engage with brands, and is an integral part of our lives. With better connectivity and emerging technologies, we can imagine next-gen commerce creating intelligent consumer journeys that weave in and out of digital and physical worlds and bring intelligent experiences to life.

• Sustainable Future: Cause-driven consumerism will significantly impact how companies are valued by their stakeholders and push ESG strategies of sustainability, diversity and inclusivity from a boardroom conversation into fundamental components of how we design, build, market and service products. 

A Strong Focus on Financial Inclusion: Our research shows that financial inclusion should ultimately be about empowerment: helping consumers and small businesses envision the life they want and providing the financial tools needed to make it happen. Mastercard has committed to bringing a total of 1 billion people and 50 million micro and small businesses – focusing on 25 million women entrepreneurs – into the global digital economy by 2025. According to the 2022 Mastercard ESG Report, since 2020, we have provided 27 million women entrepreneurs with solutions to help them grow their businesses, surpassing our original goal of 25 million by 2025.

At Mastercard, we remain committed to leveraging our expertise, global network, and partnerships to unlock the full potential of digital payments and create a more inclusive and connected world.

Q2. How can Fintechs play a vital role in financial inclusion?
Fintechs are crucial in driving financial inclusion by leveraging technology to overcome barriers and provide innovative solutions. With mobile phone technology, data analytics and new digital products, Fintechs can enhance access to financial services at a faster pace and larger scale than traditional players. These solutions reduce operating costs, increase efficiency and reach remote and rural areas, making financial services more accessible and affordable.

Developing an attractive and relevant customer experience is key to their work. By designing simple and user-friendly services, Fintechs ensure that individuals can conveniently access financial systems without complications. For example, digitising saving circles or alternative lending models improves accessibility and offers financial options to those without traditional banking access. Fintechs that prioritise creating seamless experiences that empower individuals to manage their finances effectively will continue to shape a more inclusive digital economy. As the Fintech partner-of-choice across the region, we take a collaborative approach to innovation, building with an API- and developer-first mindset to make it easy for Fintech creators to embrace the vast utility and scale of our network to power new, relevant and resonant solutions quickly.

The Mastercard door is always open to Fintech startups that share our mission to connect and power an inclusive, digital economy that benefits everyone everywhere by making transactions safe, simple, smart and accessible. We’re proud to provide startups access to hands-on mentoring, co-innovation opportunities and engagement with Mastercard’s global network of banks, merchants, partners and digital players to help scale their businesses. 

Q3. How can we create a society that is more welcoming toward financial technology? 
At Mastercard, we believe that creating a more welcoming society toward financial technology requires a multi-faceted approach focused on education, collaboration and trust-building. Here are some key considerations:
Education and Awareness: Promoting financial technology literacy is essential to foster acceptance and understanding. Mastercard developed Girls4Tech®, a signature STEM curriculum based on global science and math standards that showcases our payments technology—algorithms, encryption, fraud detection, data analysis, digital convergence, and the power of our network. This interactive, hands-on curriculum connects the foundations of our business to STEM principles and shows girls across the globe that it takes all kinds of interests and skills to pursue a career in STEM. Mastercard established a goal to educate 5 million girls, ages 8–12, through the Girls4Tech programme by 2025. 

Collaboration and Partnerships: Collaboration among stakeholders is crucial to foster digitalisation and financial inclusion. For instance, Mastercard has recently signed a Digital Country Partnership with the government of the Dominican Republic to accelerate the country's digital agenda. By leveraging our payment innovation, digital infrastructure and security solutions, we aim to create a competitive and inclusive digital economy. This partnership focuses on fostering a culture of entrepreneurship and innovation while prioritising cyber security. Through efforts like this, Mastercard contributes to the growth of the tech sector in the region.

Inclusive Design and Accessibility: Ensuring that technological solutions are designed with inclusivity is crucial. As payment cards continue to move forward by adopting modern, flat designs without embossed names and numbers, they are inadvertently setting back those who need to identify and differentiate their cards without the use of sight. The Touch Card by Mastercard was designed with accessibility in mind to bring security, inclusivity and independence to blind and partially sighted cardholders around the world. The Touch Card feature creates an accessible system of payment cards with unique, tactile notches — rounded for debit, squared for credit, and triangular for prepaid — so anyone can identify their cards with just a touch.
By focusing on education, collaboration, trust-building and inclusive design, we can create a society that embraces financial technology and harnesses its potential to drive financial inclusion and economic growth and improve people's lives.

Q4. Can you tell us more about Mastercard’s own evolution beyond cards?
You may think you know Mastercard – “card” has been in our name since the early days, but it’s only part of who we are. Today’s digital world requires modern payment solutions. We’re looking broadly at how people may want to pay or be paid: cards, account to account, new technologies like blockchain, whatever you want to do.

When you think about the accelerated shift to digital, that’s exactly what we were built for. We operate one of the world's largest, most sophisticated high-speed networks. Our technology has been developed and scaled globally to deliver that instant ability to pay in 210 countries and territories. And we’re continually innovating and adding to that technology stack. For example, we’re relentlessly using AI to take billions of dollars of fraud from the system. And we’re leveraging continued innovations like 5G, edge computing and the cloud to do more. 

Our business and our technology extend well beyond the payment. It’s about taking the insights and the trends from what we see in the transactions that flow across our network to deliver peace of mind and trust through cyber security and help businesses and governments make better decisions through data analytics.

Q5. What significant opportunities and benefits can a digital wallet bring to solving existing challenges?
Consumers seek digital solutions that put answers and information at their fingertips, and a digital wallet brings significant opportunities and benefits in solving existing challenges. With next-generation digital wallets, managing payment and loyalty credentials, identities and assets, including tokenised valuables, become more streamlined. They offer a single control point for various services and activities, consolidating various tools and credentials into one convenient platform. This includes authentication beyond payments, allowing users to verify identities, manage data, drive personalisation and access customised financial insights. The evolution of digital wallets is driven by the ongoing digitisation of the economy, leading to their increasing ubiquity in our daily lives.

The growth potential for digital wallets is substantial. According to the 2023 Mastercard Future of Payments Report, analysts predict that by 2025 there will be 4.4 billion unique digital wallet users worldwide, representing more than half of the global population. Furthermore, digital wallets will account for 54% of global e-commerce transactions by 2026. 

With competition driving innovation and regulatory oversight ensuring fair play, no single wallet provider is expected to dominate the market. Instead, success will be achieved by delivering increased utility both online and offline, building a trusted environment, and seamless experiences, fulfilling the promise of a single wallet to manage everything.