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Jelena Ristić, Country Manager, Mastercard

Cash Is Expensive And Risky

Mastercard is a company that stays on top of payment trends by carefully monitoring consumer needs, while its combination of safe and flexible technologies, data insights and partnerships ensure that Mastercard can accelerate the digital shift in a meaningful way

Acrisis can be a generator of thinking that’s out-of-the-box, and considerations that innovations should be market-relevant and tailored to actual needs. People are now increasingly relying on the practicality, safety and speed of electronic payments, but it remains to be seen how they will use them.

The pandemic brought some new trends. Would we be right in saying that some innovations planned for next year were introduced in a few months of this year?

– If there is something positive in the pandemic, it is the openness with which consumers embraced new payment methods and the readiness of retailers and financial institutions to cater to the continuing shift in consumer habits. The growth of cashless, contactless and online payments are such examples – the recommendations of the WHO promoting card usage drove people away from excessive amounts of cash and ATMs. We’re seeing a strong push among retailers for contactless payments, which consumers strongly support, so in this light we increased the limit for PIN-less contactless payments from 3,000 to 4,000 dinars, as an additional element promoting peace-of-mind when people shop in-store. But it’s online payments that have become the new first choice for consumers, with our latest MasterIndex Serbia study showing that 10% of people actually tried Ecommerce for the first time during the lockdown. What we need to bear in mind is that today’s changes are pioneering tomorrow’s innovations.

Given that Serbia has been a predominantly cash market, do we need additional education on how to use modern technologies? What role does Mastercard play in this?

– The cash economy is still massive and what we need to understand as a society is that cash is an expensive and risky burden for future growth, and that technology actually helps make markets more resilient and sustainable. Only when parties understand how technologies and concrete solutions work will they be willing to try them out, and then practice builds habit and usage.

Only when parties understand how technologies and concrete solutions work  will they be willing to try

Focusing on Ecommerce, there is a need to continue educating cardholders on how to navigate online shopping. At the same time, retailers need to be online in order to avoid falling off shoppers’ radars, as well as to excel at end-to-end customer service. Financial and regulatory sectors must facilitate the growing demand, and the best way to do that is to adapt global success stories. All these can be achieved with proper, timely and educated support. We are strongly aligned to partners throughout the ecosystem and some of our most recent educational initiatives include the Guide for Safe and Secure Online Shopping with USAID, SurfShop intensive workshops with the Association of young businessmen of Serbia, the eCommerce Association Academy, on-boarding support for existing and new online shops in partnership with OTP Bank, etc. 

We’ll continue with education and relevant launches to ensure that each party maximizes the potential that digital technologies have to offer.

Are you ready for the dynamic growth of users among both consumers and retailers?

– The on-going digital evolution will only accelerate further and businesses that bravely embrace innovations will have the highest chances of achieving sustainable growth. The digital economy is needed more than ever before and we mustn’t forget that it implies a global scale. Mastercard’s forte is our global network, which processes more than 87 billion transactions per year and enables us to easily scale upstream and downstream demand, while our unique position within the payment ecosystem ensures that we can provide relevant support to all stakeholders in their efforts to expand. We are looking forward to this dynamic growth, because it will confirm that the market is safely headed along the digitization route.

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