Can digital payments help disaster-proof smart cities?

MasterCard is partnering with 100 Resilient Cities (100RC) to boost digital payments as a way of making smart cities more efficient and disaster-proof.

According to Pyments.com, the U.S. credit card behemoth is teaming up with the 100RC group which provides free expertise, tools and services to member cities. The group, led by the Rockefeller Foundation, is comprised of various non-profits, businesses and government agencies.

This comes as financial services companies are increasingly looking to develop the “banking of things” which seeks to harness the torrents of data being produced in smart cities.

MasterCard said it will use its resources to promote digital payments as an alternative to riskier cash-based transactions in 100RC cities.

It also will use its technology to help these cities develop their own digital payments strategies to “help cities around the world become more resilient to the physical, social and economic challenges that are a growing part of the 21st century world.”

“In the face of rapid urbanization, removing cash from the economy has been shown to create far-reaching and cumulative benefits to all — citizens, businesses, tourists and governments,” said MasterCard’s vice president of government services Craig Driver. “Working with 100RC, we can tap into our expertise creating digital payment solutions for governments to help cities achieve greater cost savings and efficiencies, drive revenue, reduce crime, establish digital identities for their citizens, expand financial inclusion and improve overall quality of life.”

Payments alternatives can help during calamities

From the 100RC perspective, MasterCard’s expertise not only assists smart cities in becoming more economically efficient, but will improve their ability to weather unforeseen calamities.

“The complex problems facing cities in the 21st century require thinking and partnerships from experts across all sectors,” said  100RC president Michael Berkowitz. “MasterCard is uniquely positioned to assist 100RC members build efficiencies in their local economies and create cities better able to thrive and withstand both sudden and long-term disasters.”

MasterCard is currently working with 60 governments around the world on such payment issues as transit, procurement, government payroll and social benefits.

For example, Transport for London (TfL) worked with MasterCard to develop a fare collection system that accepts contactless bank cards. The result was a 5% drop in costs in fare collection in just over a year as well as simplified access to buses and trains for riders.

Meanwhile local businesses in Toronto and other Canadian cities have teamed up with MasterCard to glean digital insights that will improve competitiveness, business performance and understanding of customer behavior.

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