For most consumers, change is a funny thing. It can be almost impossible to get a consumer to let go of an ingrained habit under normal circumstances. But pushed by the pressure of an unusual circumstance to do something a different way, it’s amazing how quickly a new habit can grow up in the space an old one left behind. That’s a lesson Sherri Haymond, Mastercard’s executive vice president of digital partnerships, has had the opportunity to witness professionally — and experience personally — over the past half year.
“Before [COVID-19] I was not an avid Instacart user, because I actually like going to the grocery store. I think it’s fun. There’s an element of discovery I like,” Haymond told Webster in a recent digital discussion. “But to have the convenience and the safety of delivery through something like Instacart — for me, it was a major game changer. There were many months that I didn’t go to a grocery store because Instacart made it that I didn’t have to. And I was really grateful for that.”
And today, Haymond is an Instacart Express member and a frequent user. What started as a safety tool to limit her risk of infection has become an upgrade to her grocery shopping experience that allows her to shop at a wider range of stores than she otherwise would have.
Moreover, Haymond knows, given her view of the changing commerce ecosystem, that she’s far from a unique case. A growing mass of people worldwide initially shifted to digital out of pure necessity, but have since learned that the shift was actually an upgrade — and well worth making permanent. Haymond said that’s altered the digital payments landscape, with the industry having to keep up with rapidly digitizing consumers and merchants.
It’s that rapidly shifting environment that drove Mastercard and Marqeta last week to announce a deeper global collaboration. Mastercard will be making an as-yet undisclosed investment in Marqeta and will, according to Haymond, help expedite Marqeta’s international expansion by streamlining its global network certification process.
“We have a lot of joint interests,” Haymond said. “The idea of coming together to ensure that Mastercard products and solutions are integrated into the Marqeta experience — and giving ourselves an opportunity to co-create new experiences for our joint customers — was pretty exciting.”
Building Better Together For a Digitally Shifted Future
Consumers’ digital shift means customer expectations for their card issuers are higher than they’ve ever been.
Customers now expect mobile integration, rewards, spend-management tools — and perhaps most importantly, transactions that feel instant and seamless regardless of the platform or marketplace on which they occur. It’s a tall order, but one that’s created a rich field of competition in a landscape that’s suddenly radically reforming itself.
Consider the recent spate of mergers and acquisitions in payments processing, credit and financial services (not to mention the sudden explosion of SPACs). Those all point to firms positioning themselves to better deliver for consumers who are suddenly looking for more control in commerce experiences. Companies that don’t do so risk being rendered obsolete by those that do.
“In the past on the merchant side, there was a lot of innovation a lot earlier — really moving to cloud-native systems and enabling API-based connectivity,” Haymond said. “The issuing side then followed, initially with just a few players. [But] now, we are seeing there is a lot of interest, because there’s a lot of room to innovate. And there are many opportunities also for new entrants to come in and specialize in terms of capabilities or verticals.”
More players — and larger players buying up and combining smaller point- and vertical-focused solutions into bigger and more effective larger firms — are building a more competitive market, Haymond said. That’s ultimately better for all players in the market, and for end consumers.
Thinking Global In A Changed World
Haymond said Mastercard’s decision to deepen its partnership with Marqeta emerged as a natural extension of the firm’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. After all, Mastercard has long been on the cutting edge on the issuing side when it comes to creating card products built to enable a wide world of emerging digital use cases.
Given Mastercard and Marqeta’s shared interest in financial inclusion, Haymond said the new collaboration will first work on Marqeta’s global-expansion goals.
“At the start, our main focus is going to be on helping Marqeta expand into new markets where there is a lot of opportunity and where we see joint opportunity, or into areas where some of our joint customers have expressed interest,” she said. “With a partner like Marqeta that has a single global platform, our focus is on thinking globally about our products. And when we integrate solutions into the market of platforms, the intent will be to make those available everywhere that we go together.”
She added that the running theme for Mastercard’s Marqeta partnership and across the board is about how to make the great digital shift underway across the commerce ecosystem easier, safer and faster.
There’s Mastercard Send’s expansion to make disbursements happen faster, the Digital Doors initiative that makes it easier for merchants to dive across the digital divide, and the partnerships that Mastercard has forged with brands from Instacart to Lyft. The theme is pretty consistent — the digital world is here to stay, due to the express demand of consumers themselves.
Haymond noted that the changes consumers have been forced to make opened up access to a world of new choices and experiences that ended up not only being safer, but in fact more varied and convenient than what they’d known before. Consumers for whom their new behaviors are likely to stick — in part and in whole.
“That is the consumer we have to be investing in building for now,” she noted.