Mastercard expands Farm Pass digital ID platform across APAC to improve agrifinance
Mastercard is taking its Farm Pass digital platform to more farmers in the Asia Pacific region as part of its objective to connect 30 million people globally to it in the next five years, including 15 million in that region.
Part of Mastercard’s Community Pass services, Farm Pass, according to the payments firm, is a tool designed to tackle many of the challenges blocking digitization of rural communities and which often subject farmers in those areas to financial hardship. The first step is establishing a digital identity for each farmer using it.
Mastercard is also collecting the biometrics of 30 million Africans as another Community Pass project.
The Farm Pass announcement was made at the Singapore FinTech Festival with Mastercard underlining its efforts to enable smallholder farmers to enjoy sustainable livelihoods from their activity while also driving financial inclusion.
The key benefits of the platform, according to Mastercard, are its ability to drive financial inclusion, inclusive growth, higher incomes, convenience, transparency, operational efficiencies and trust.
“While technology has brought profound benefits to much of the world, digitally excluded people in remote communities, like most farmers, face unique challenges in breaking the cycle of poverty,” comments Ari Sarker, Mastercard president for Asia Pacific.
“Too often, smallholder farmers’ profits are at the mercy of forces outside their control, making them price takers rather than price makers.”
With the Farm Pass platform, which works on and offline, farmers are able to first create a digital ID which then allows them to have their income, harvest data and transaction history digitized, assisting them in building profiles in the process.
Through the system, farmers are digitally connected to a network of agricultural buyers, inputs dealers, and other participants in agriculture once they have been onboarded, Mastercard explains, adding that they may access reputable markets through the internet platform, where they can be paid fairly, according to Mastercard, and consumers can find sustainable sources of high-quality produce.
Also, ecosystem partners onboard farmers at scale and capture real-time insights through the app, while farmers receive assistance from agents in-person, as well as digitally, contributing to effective enrollment and adoption of the program.
Two million smallholder farmers now use the Mastercard Farm Pass which the company says is rapidly scaling in India, with the potential to significantly drive economic growth.
“The beauty of Farm Pass is that it works by addressing farmers’ most pressing needs: to get digital, get paid and get capital, giving them greater leverage in the agricultural value chain. Importantly, Farm Pass isn’t an aid program or philanthropy,” adds Sarker.
“Rather, it enables farmers to be properly compensated for their work by cutting out inefficiencies and middlemen, creating a commercially sustainable system for all involved.”
Andro Koutsoudis, the company’s VP of global product management, identity and data lead also recently discussed issues around the Community Pass in an ID4Africa virtual event with its executive chair, Dr. Joseph Atick.