The Slovenia Times

Mastercard - A global brand that thinks locally



Rose Beaumont leads the internal and external communications, business experience, interaction and amplification, for Mastercard throughout Europe and internationally. Focused on delivering integrated solutions and experiences that drive business performance and engagement, Ms Beaumont combines excellence in thought leadership and strategic vision with creative execution and story-making.  

Earlier this year, Mastercard launched its sonic brand, featuring renowned musicians and artists from all over the world. What was its purpose and how did it enhance the evolution of Mastercard?

Mastercard, as a business, has now been in existence for over 50 years and throughout this time the product and the solutions that we have offered have grown and expanded. In today's increasingly digital world, we know that the importance of having one front door for your business, one unifying brand that enables you to offer multiple products and solutions behind it, but giving an identifiable piece of real estate for people in the physical and digital worlds is critical. Mastercard has been on a journey to evolve all of the many brands that have popped up over 50 years and behind these beautiful and sleek iconic interlocking circles that are now a symbol only brand. Alongside the understanding that digital continues to evolve and with the number of connected devices, the rise of the internet of things and all-important voice assistants, we realise that branding is no longer just a visual stimulus but increasingly, an audio stimulus when the visual key is taken away. In Slovenia, we launched the sonic brand that is a full brand architecture that is everything from a full melody that creates the DNA of our brand in an audio space. The sonic signature, which is our signal to let you know that this is Mastercard and the point of sale acceptance sound, using the same sonic brand letting you know that your payment has been made safely and securely.

The company's distinctive tune can be adapted to different genres and cultures, ensuring local relevance while maintaining the sound of the global brand. Why is the local aspect so important for the global company?

You may have heard many global organisations around the world say: we're a global organisation that thinks local. However, very few organisations can deliver on it. Where Mastercard has the point of difference is that our global behaviour is the world class technology that moves your money faster than the blink of an eye in a very secure and simple way. Our local connection is how we partner with your financial institution of choice, whether that is your bank, whether we work with your transit network or your local government to introduce smarter payments, but also how we are locally relevant to you. When creating an audio brand, we realised that music is a very personal thing and has multiple cultural influences around the world that are unique to specific locations. It became something increasingly intuitive for us to say that if we're going to make Mastercard have a consistent sound, there's no reason why that consistent sound can't be locally loved and locally relevant. So, around the world we have been working with local musicians to really ensure that where the sound of Mastercard arrives, it has that element that makes it feel instantly at home. 

The Slovene music tradition was brought to life in the Mastercard global sonic brand for the first time in October. The producer, Dejan Radičevič, created authentic local inputs by adding folk instruments to the original Mastercard melody. The sound was created by zitherist, Tanja Zupanc, percussionist, Petra Vidmar, popular Slovenian singer, Neisha, world champion in diatonic accordion, Anže Krevh and renowned Slovenian clarinet player, Boštjan Gombač, who played a part of the tune on a reconstruction of the oldest flute in the world, found in the cave, Divje babe, near Cerkno in Slovenia. Play it on

Contactless payments have become an important trend in the everyday customer experience. What are the benefits from the customers, as well as the merchants, point of view?

Contactless payments are phenomenal and their adoption is growing incredibly fast. They are primarily used for what we call low value transactions. So, if you're paying for your tube ticket in London, if you're going on a bus or if you're grabbing a coffee. One of the things that contactless payments really deliver is speed. It's a transaction where you don't want to stop and consider, and you don't have to try the product on. First and foremost, contactless is fantastic for driving speed which is such a great transit solution. In Slovenia, about 70 percent of payments are now contactless. 

You were talking about a cashless society as a goal to be achieved in the near future. How close is this goal?

If you look at it in aggregate, 85 percent of the world's transactions are still in cash and paper. When you come to countries such as Slovenia and other developed countries across Europe, that number then moves dramatically and we're moving much more to an electronic payment dominated place. It really comes down to the stage of development and infrastructure. Will we ever see cash truly disappear? I don't believe so in my lifetime. I think there is a case for it in the future, but we'll see different form factors co-exist as we do now. I think the emphasis on cash will decrease as people understand the convenience and security that is delivered by electronic payments. 

What are the main issues right now when thinking about the implementation of Strong Customer Authentication?

Strong Customer Authentication is a part of the European Commission Payments Services Directive 2 and is about giving the people in the online world the same level of security that they are used to in the offline world (e.g. PIN). The new regulation tries to find a solution for that in the online world. That is something that large e-commerce retailers can adapt to quickly, whether it is working with their one-time password generation, but actually we think this is a huge step forward for both banks and retailers in Slovenia and across Europe. It means they can start to embed a consistent check out experience that is incredibly secure. To do this, we believe that they should move to a tokenised transaction where all information is encrypted. But this takes time and that is the challenge that's been encountered as we've seen Strong Customer Authentication roll through. We are working very closely with the banks and the retailers, and we know that now an extension has been granted. We're hoping that those people who need to install the new infrastructure and have Mastercard 3-D Secure ready will be ready come the new deadline.

What is the future of payments?

The future of payments is happening all the time, but the one thing driving it is the problem we're looking to solve. In some places, the goal is to displace cash and to make it more secure for small merchants or those who are looking to pay or get paid. The solutions are different depending on the infrastructure you're operating. QR codes for tuk-tuk drivers in India, for example, are something that Mastercard pioneered - to take that cash transaction out of the mix. Will QR codes scale into Europe? No, because we've already moved to the NFC contactless enabled terminals that allowed us to move forward. In terms of the future of payments, we think the rise and rise of the mobile device is going to be critical. The other piece I see that is exciting is the growth of the wearable, whether it be a smart watch or a payment enabled ring that you wear when travelling. All these things mean that if I can take some of the friction out of my experience of moving around and still know that my payment is secured and authenticated by a biometric, then it means that I think that the future of payments is already with us. But that means it will continue to evolve.


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