Brazil’s digital future is bright. Let’s keep it that way.

3 Mins read

Brazil’s digital future is bright. Let’s keep it that way.

Entrepreneurs make their own opportunities. Look no further than Brazil’s favelas — these marginalized communities are hives of micro-entrepreneurism, with four in 10 residents owning their own businesses despite many lacking access to capital and the skills and tools they need to compete in an increasingly digital world.

Now Mastercard is helping them make the most of the businesses they’ve built by supporting the digital transformation of 500,000 micro-enterprises in favelas across Brazil through cutting-edge tools like gamification, data science and even virtual reality training.

This is the intersection of innovation and inclusion. This is what the digital economy is all about — harnessing the power of technology to ignite the potential in all of us. And the potential in Brazil is great. The pandemic-induced digital acceleration seen all around the globe has been pronounced here, with contactless payments skyrocketing by 385% in 2021, e-commerce growing by 27% the same year and, most encouragingly, the number of banked Brazilians reaching 182.2 million at the end of the year — a 10% spike since February 2020.

Our own research shows an appetite for more. According to Mastercard’s 2022 New Payments Index, 86% of Brazilians say they have used at least one digital payment method in the past year, and 94% say they are likely to pay digitally in the next year. The embrace of digital has been enabled by a thriving startup scene, with nine startups reaching unicorn status in 2021, and a central bank that shares Mastercard’s belief that people are best served by a choice of payment options.

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But innovation and inclusion are only two legs of the table. Without trust, it will not stand.

Our increasingly interconnected world opens up exciting economic opportunities to more people, but it also makes us all more vulnerable. As we moved online, so did criminals.. The thousands of publicly reported data breaches exposed 22 billion records in 2021. And Brazil ranked fifth among countries targeted for cybercrime, with 9.1 million ransomware attacks in the first half of 2021 — more than the total of such attacks in all of 2020.

The Digital Security Barometer study conducted last year by Mastercard in partnership with Kantar reveals that data privacy is important to 99% of Brazilians, and 41% said they did not trust online organizations to keep their data secure. Without confidence in the digital ecosystem, adoption may slow, innovation could falter and inclusion might stall.

That’s why we have spent more than $1 billion on cybersecurity-related acquisitions and investments and developed an approach we call “connected intelligence.” It brings together technologies and tools to secure payments before, during and after the transaction, from tokenization — turning the 16 digits of a card into a unique, algorithmically-generated number, as Mastercard does to secure Facebook Pay in Brazil for person-to-person payments — to AI-powered identity verification and cyber risk assessment to biometric authentication. (Shoppers at the upscale St. Marche markets in São Paulo participated in our biometric checkout pilot with Payface, replacing their wallet with their smile.)

What’s more, adoption of digital assets and the blockchain technology that powers them is accelerating in Brazil, transforming the economy and our everyday lives — from the way we pay and get paid to how we collect art and memorabilia to how we invest our money and execute contracts. We need to ensure that the crypto economy is instilled with the same confidence and peace of mind that consumers are experiencing today with more traditional payment methods.

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Our acquisition of the cryptocurrency intelligence company CipherTrace expanded our cybersecurity capabilities further into the crypto sphere. This will help the e-commerce giant Mercado Libre monitor, identify and understand risks and help manage its crypto regulatory and compliance obligations as it continues to roll out its Mercado Pago digital wallet for crypto buying and selling.

But it’s not just about transactions — digital interactions should be just as secure as payments. A safe, shareable digital identity can help people prove who they are in a world that is more virtual than ever before. In Brazil, we’re helping students verify themselves for online exams at universities, supporting around 10,000 Brazilian university students to create their own digital identity that can be used for a lifetime in multidimensional environment, and at Brasilia’s Complexo Comercial BRASIL 21, a large hotel, businesses center and residential development, the thousands of tenants, service providers, guests and visitors will use digital identity to ensure safe access for everyone.

We know the future of payments is all about choice — increasingly digital and empowered consumers want to access and use their money in a way that makes the most sense to them at that moment.

As a technology company, our aim is to support — and secure — every transaction, regardless of the tech or tool used to make it, today or in the future. By working across the ecosystem to ensure that innovation never outpaces trust, we can collectively help ensure that the economy continues to grow and deliver opportunities for everyone. Because no matter how they pay, all Brazilians deserve the same exact experience — simple, seamless and safe.

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Source: Marcelo G. Tangioni

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