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Creating broader payment scenarios

By Jiang Xueqing | China Daily | Updated: 2018-05-30 10:14
Dennis Chang, division president, Mastercard China. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Editor's Note: This year marks the 40th anniversary of China's reform and opening-up. China Daily interviewed top executives of well-known multinational companies for their views on the country's socioeconomic development.

Mastercard aims to nurture even closer connections between China and the rest of the world with its leading financial products and services

Please use three words to describe China's changes in the past 40 years.

Determined, invigorated and resilient. We are celebrating the 40th anniversary of the reform and opening-up policy, an almost half-century old government agenda, which through enormous wholehearted determination, has benefited the masses and is still helping invigorate the economy. The policy ran through various historical eras, and has demonstrated impressive resilience, continuously playing a key role in China's development.

What are the biggest achievements in China since the introduction of the reform and opening-up policy 40 years ago?

China has made remarkable accomplishments since the introduction of the reform and opening-up policy, and now under the leadership of President Xi Jinping, a new era for China has started, both domestically and internationally.

Domestically, China will build a moderately prosperous society by eliminating poverty while turning the country into a fully developed nation. Externally, China aims to be a strong global power that seeks to influence a range of international issues such as trade and climate change.

As such, China's ascending global leadership can be seen as one of the biggest achievements, enabled by the reform and opening-up policy. Countries that are seen as global hubs of technology, creativity and broad-based growth will lead the 21st century.

How has your company benefited from the reform and opening-up policy?

China's further opening-up will create more connections with the rest of the world, and in turn, provide us with more opportunities to serve customers, facilitating our growth within the region.

As you can see, Mastercard's key business involves supporting China's exchange with the world, and I think we have done a remarkable job over the past 30 years. We have facilitated foreign citizens coming to China, and are increasingly facilitating Chinese citizens going global and exploring the world. This not only includes the traditional North American and Western European markets, but also the Belt and Road economies. The opening up of China is no doubt a key enabler of Mastercard.

It was China's reform and opening-up policy that brought Mastercard to China 30 years ago. Now China's reform and opening-up policy is welcoming its 40th anniversary and resetting to a new starting point. Trends and initiatives such as the Belt and Road present enormous opportunities for Mastercard to nurture even closer connections between China and the rest of the world.

Has competition intensified between your company and Chinese companies?

Mastercard is committed to playing the role of an enabler that empowers our partners. Through their rise and growth, we see a promising future for ourselves.

We work with partners in China through an import and export model. By importing our global expertise, cutting-edge technologies and world-leading products and services, and through exporting the fruits of China's amazing development to the rest of the world, Mastercard is always there helping them to operate internationally and enabling their outbound journeys.

Now, Mastercard is connecting 44.4 million merchants worldwide, covering 210 countries and regions, and expanding our priceless city program in 44 cities. Through our global network and resources, Chinese companies, especially payment companies, can significantly stretch their reach and create broader payment scenarios.

How do you view China's role in the world today?

In my opinion, China can play a more proactive role in the existing global system.

It is impressive to see China participating in most existing international organizations and forums, and for China to engage with the world in a more sustained way, it is much easier to take a leading role in these organizations than it is to create new China-centric organizations.

To better play the role of an inclusive partner, China can fully leverage the entrepreneurial momentum that it has accumulated over the past 40 years. It is important for China to focus on China-made multinational corporations' expansions globally, but it is equally important that it can better recognize the value of existing multinational companies that already play important roles in connecting China and the rest of the world.

Could China's experience and practices be used to solve global problems?

According to the Report on the Work of the Government this year, Premier Li Keqiang reported to the National People's Congress that in the past five years, China has lifted more than 68 million citizens out of poverty. Poverty alleviation is a major contribution China has made to the world, and also a flagship example for the rest of the world, as the UN's Sustainable Development Goals are calling for an end to poverty in the next 15 year cycle.

The reform and opening-up policy can continually support China to contribute to those global initiatives and influence global economic recovery. Regionally, China is investing in the Belt and Road Initiative to facilitate trade across the region. China has also set up the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank to bring countries involved in the Belt and Road together to address infrastructural needs across Asia. Globally, China is working with the World Trade Organization and the International Monetary Fund to open up more free trade zones and ease regulations for foreign investors. China is also making large-scale investments in Africa, especially in transportation. China's opening-up is now a cornerstone of the world's economic growth, and we see immense opportunities.

What is the most unforgettable experience you have had in China?

Transformative changes brought by the revolutionary digitalization process in China have left me with an unforgettable impression of the country.

Many years ago, Chinese people lived in a "dot-to-dot" fashion, cash in pocket, inserting coins to ride the bus and buying coupons for lunch in a canteen. These dots were in a fixed order, and you were not really able to pass one to get another.

But now, we are living a far more connected life in a net framework. Our behavior does not adhere to any specific scenario, thanks to mobile internet and digitalization. We shop in our offices, watch movies on the subway and reply to emails in bathrooms. Our lives have changed to a multilayered grid format.

The world is getting smaller, but our desires are getting bigger. Simply buying goods has become less fulfilling, and more often we are looking for unique and priceless experiences.

To address these changes in a progressively more connected market environment, we recently unveiled the concept of holistic solutions to enable industry players to harness tremendous opportunities alongside transformative changes.

Apart from economic development, what progress in other fields have you witnessed in China in the past 40 years?

China is leading the latest wave of innovation globally. And it's a fact, rather than aspiration, that China is now indeed a tech and innovation powerhouse.

It's hard to comprehend just how quickly and extremely the methods of communication used by Chinese people have changed between when China first opened up 40 years ago and today. And in many cities, things that were once science fiction have become commonplace in reality. This year, people are using mobile phones to buy sweet potatoes on the street, hire shared bicycles and enjoy the benefits of a shared economy.

It is with great pride that Mastercard has contributed to these innovations as a tech firm and leader in digital payments. Countless more improvements to people's quality of life will be realized if innovation continues at this pace.

CV

Name: Dennis Chang

Age: 47

Nationality: China

Career:

March 2015 onward: Division president, Mastercard China

January 2013-present: Head of Mastercard China

March 2012-January 2013: Head of market development, Mastercard China

April 2008-February 2012: Head of cards, ANZ

2007-08: Vice-president of personal financial service marketing, HSBC

Education:

Bachelor of Arts in language and literature, Shanghai International Studies University

Family: Married with two children

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