The COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly upended life as we know it on a global scale. Buying milk has gone from a quick errand to a carefully planned outing, entertainment is now mostly confined to small screens, and shopping online is a lifeline to many. The last thing that people need now is added worry or anxiety about anything, let alone whether their payment for a shipment of essential supplies is going to go through safely.
At Mastercard, we’ve always enabled people to buy the things they want and need in the safest, most secure manner possible. More now than ever, we’re putting all our power, capabilities, and technology to work to make sure everyone has a little less to worry about.
Your payment will go through
Above all, consumer payments will not be interrupted. Mastercard’s network is as robust and reliable as ever. We have developed comprehensive continuity plans and have considered specific scenarios to test our readiness across systems and operations in the event of an emergency – in fact, I’ve personally participated in a crisis simulation regarding a pandemic in the past. This means that, for instance, if a processing site were to go down in the United States, our redundancy systems would reroute its workload to a different country within moments. We continue to leverage our insights and capabilities to provide real-time responses and adaptability to ensure that our solutions are as effective as they can be for customers and consumers.
At your service any way we can be
This crisis has also thrown many people into medical and economic peril. In times like these, all efforts matter and we continue to look for ways to help – big and small. Starting next week, families in the City of Los Angeles will be able to apply for up to $1,500 in assistance that they can access through no-fee debit cards enabled by Mastercard’s City Possible network, a public/private partnership focused on meeting the needs of people in 16 cities. We also recently joined forces with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and British research charity Wellcome to contribute a total of $125 million to speed up the development and access to treatment for COVID-19.
We’ve also contributed to funds like the China Women’s Development Foundation to support the initial efforts in Wuhan, and Feed America in the U.S. to support local food banks in some of our home cities. Further, through our partnership with Scholastic, we’ve made our Girls4Tech online curriculum for grades 3-7 available to anyone who wants to download it. Most recently, we’ve donated 25,000 respirator masks to NYC hospitals, who are in significant need of these supplies. This is undoubtedly the right thing to do right now. However, it also fits into our vision for the future: a more connected world where everyone has the tools and resources they need to thrive and stay healthy.
Rethinking the way we pay
Right now, I think we’re all a little more aware of what we touch in public settings, such as the supermarket or drug store — and whether we want to or not. Here’s the good news: You don’t necessarily have to pick up a pen to sign for your purchases. In 2018, we adjusted our global standards to give merchants the option to collect signed receipts when accepting a Mastercard card. Since then, signatures are not required on a receipt or electronic point of sale device, giving you peace of mind, safety and speed at checkout. During this period of uncertainty, we’ve been reminding cardholders and merchants that signatures are no longer required under the Mastercard rules to complete a purchase, meaning that if you politely decline signing for your pizza, your delivery guy will still get paid.
Contactless payment is another way to keep your hands to yourself. By simply tapping your phone or contactless-enabled card at a payment terminal, you can transact without ever touching a thing. A practice that Europeans have adopted as a norm for years, we’ve recognized that implementing contactless limit raises across Europe and Latin America and Caribbean will help people shop more easily during this difficult time. We’ve done so for 29 countries in Europe – and among those, the UK, Ireland, Estonia and Poland are leading the way with permanent changes to limits, while the likes of Netherlands and Greece are implementing temporary limit raises during this point in time.
In the United States, we continue to see contactless growth – over 60 percent of face-to-face transactions are taking place at contactless-enabled locations – and consider this moment in time as a critical for meaningful adoption.