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[Tuning In] Rama Sridhar from Mastercard on promoting financial inclusion and women in leadership

Written by Sara Mandagie Published on 

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Rama Sridhar discusses financial inclusion, collaboration across the digital payment infrastructure, and her hopes for the future.

Rama’s passion for creating profitable businesses with high growth trajectories has continued throughout her 30-year career across technology and financial services industries. As an experienced female executive, she is also involved in mentoring high potential talent for future leadership and advising startups on business growth. Outside of the office, Rama loves spending time with books, music, and her family. While work engagements have taken her around the world, Rama is proud to call Singapore her home.

This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.

KrAsia (Kr): How would you define financial inclusion?

Rama Sridhar (RS): Financial Inclusion, as I define it, is about providing everyone with equal and available opportunities to access banking services. And that does not necessarily start with a bank account. But it basically means everybody needs to have an account in which they can receive payments and make payments. Our aim at Mastercard is to connect and power an inclusive digital economy that benefits everyone.

Kr: Your area of expertise lies in digital payments and transactions. In your view, what happens when people don’t have access to infrastructure that covers digital payments? 

RS: When people don’t have access, growth will inevitably be impacted. In today’s increasingly digitalized world, so many transactions occur digitally instead of using hard cash. That’s why we need strong and reliable infrastructure to support economic activity, as we move towards the vision of cashless societies in Asia. Furthermore, the digital economy is able to provide a good level of transparency and access to funds, which are important pillars of economic growth.

As you may already know, Asia represents a third of the global growth in digital payments. And innovative fintech players continue to create new opportunities for such growth. There is so much potential here. Yet ASEAN as a region still holds the largest population of underserved citizens from a financial inclusion perspective. So the issue is getting critical. We do need to act fast and improve access to digital payment infrastructure.

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