Mastercard: how supply chain is ensuring speed to market

Amber Donovan-Stevens
|Mar 25|magazine16 min read

Mastercard is a name that is synonymous with the global financial services sector; a payment network that financially unites countries on a global scale through its partnerships with merchants, consumers and government entities. With over 2.5 billion cards embossed with Mastercard’s logo, it remains one of the most recognised brands today. 

The secret to the provider’s success may be in part attributed to its market tenure, having been around for half a century, but in an ever-changing industry increasingly populated by disruptive startups, unicorns and innovators, the giant has also taken considerable steps to remain relevant. From the nurturing of startups through to its sustainable initiatives, Mastercard has proven time and again that it is ethically and practically invaluable to its customers, and every year, the cooperation receives numerous accolades. So far in 2020, it has already been awarded Fortune’s Blue Ribbon Companies 2020, it has been recognised as one of the World's Most Admired Companies by Fortune and ranked in Bloomberg's 2020 Gender Equality Index. As well as receiving a perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign’s 2020 Corporate Equality Index, Mastercard is listed as one of America's Most Responsible Companies by Newsweek.

Mark Bromley, Director, Sourcing and Supplier Management, Mastercard, provides an insight into the way in which the company is innovating its processes to be more accessible to startups. Bromley has worked with Mastercard for a little over four years, having previously worked with Barclays Investment Bank as a Global Sourcing Manager and Head of Transactional Sourcing, and as a Procurement Analyst for American Express previous to that. 

As Director of Sourcing and Supplier Management, he is responsible for building sourcing strategies that align with the corporate vision, and Bromley and his team were recently awarded the Bias For Speed award from Mastercard’s Head of Legal for the implementation of a process that allows the seamless onboarding of startups into the Mastercard ecosystem, The Mastercard Start Path. “We see the value of startups and want to be a partner to these companies,” says Bromley, “and we wanted to create a process that was not control design for startups, but more speed to market.” It is from this goal that Bromley and his teams moved to create a process that allowed for a startup to complete the onboarding process from several months down to just two weeks. 

The onboarding process took Bromley and his teams six months to create, and was culminated from numerous workshops and meetings that gathered a number of departments across the organisation, including finance, supply chain, risk, business and legal. “To get all these departments together with one goal in a global company is quite an achievement, and something I am personally proud of.”

The new on-boarding process platform added a great amount of efficiency to a once timely process, allowing for a faster cataloging and shortlisting of fintech and startup applicants. Bromley shares that once these companies apply through the aforementioned portal, they are manually reviewed by Mastercard, and around six are taken into the Mastercard ecosystem, giving them access to it’s diverse network, as well as six months of mentoring. “I don’t like the thought of procurement just being seen as a process that uses rubber stamps to get something done,” says Bromley. He enthuses that this is overcome by taking a more consultative role, where those in supply chain reach out across the company and suggest processes based on their extensive knowledge of Mastercard’s partners and processes. “So much of our work with fintechs, startups and SMEs is about revenue generation, and with that, speed to market products. As a result the supply chain teams work closely with product teams to ensure that each startup entering our ecosystem is receiving the best support and connected with the best-matched companies in the network.” Start Path was recently named The Best Innovation Program in 2020 by Tearsheet, a testament to Mastercard’s collaborative approach to innovation.

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So much of our work with fintechs, startups and SMEs is about revenue generation, and with that, speed to market products” - Mark Bromley, Director, Sourcing and Supplier Management, Mastercard

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One of Bromley’s favourite aspects of Mastercard is the culture. “It’s very inclusive,” he shares. “It’s great to be a part of a company that talks the talk and walks the walk.” He commends the work of president and CEO, Ajay Banga, who works tirelessly to ensure diversity and inclusion. Bromley shares that the new process was well received by stakeholders, without whom, the success of the new process would not have been possible. “The process is only as good as the support you receive for it. Our senior stakeholders understand that supply chains are diversifying and as a result have been exceptionally supportive,” he says.  

This work that Bromley has led is a part of Mastercard Labs (R&D innovation team), of which there are eight globally. The labs specialise in VR, AI, AR and blockchain, with an exploration into how these technologies can drive company value while also providing new innovations to the 20,000 banks and 60 million merchants it supports. In addition to his work with the innovation labs, Bromley has two other areas of responsibility within the remit of the supply chain: cyber and intelligence solutions, and card products. 

“Looking at what our cybersecurity team is doing is both amazing and challenging,” Bromley says. “One bad experience can lose a customer permanently, and larger companies are constantly the target of cyberattacks, so we need to ensure that our customers and their assets are protected at all times.” The cyber group specifically focuses on securing the payments in Mastercard’s ecosystem and leveraging the suppliers that enter into the ecosystem in strengthening the company’s cybersecurity. Bromley shares that Mastercard is also looking to expand it’s Artificial Intelligence Academy to drive its cybersecurity capabilities.

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As well as keeping payments safe, Mastercard needs to ensure that its vast number of products are well tailored to customers and competitive in the marketplace. “There are 2.5 billion Mastercards out there. Our teams are working on those products and working with partners, particularly within the loyalty space, to create a better experience for our users.”

Bromley acknowledges that there is still a long way to go in streamlining the procurement process, but he looks ahead with anticipation. “I’ve had great support from both the leadership team and the wider Mastercard team; it hasn’t been easy, but I have every faith that with their support we will continue to really drive change at Mastercard.” He asserts that the future for supply chain and procurement will continue to change. “We will no longer be a retrospective outfit within the company, but a proactive partner across the board that will innovate and collaborate both internally and externally, to deliver the company’s strategic objectives.”

“Industry-wide, supply chain has the chance to do a lot more than just be a paper-pushing function. Push yourselves and lead your team through change to make procurement a go-to partner within the organisation.” Though many companies have yet to adopt this mentality with regards to procurement, it is evident that this approach is deeply embedded in Mastercard’s culture, which will undoubtedly continue to position it as a global leader in the payment’s industry.

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