Building and Maintaining Trust

June 14, 2016

by Rick Haythornthwaite

Trust. It’s a simple word comprised of just 5 letters, yet its definition carries much weight and meaning. Oxford defines trust as the “firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.”

The value we place on trust reinforces that it cannot be a one-time event. Rather, trust is the result of a series of transactions. A promise is made, actions are taken, results are delivered. Trust is reinforced by an individual’s or a company’s continued behavior.  As the other party – a customer, a partner or society as a whole – sees and recognizes the shared commitment, the trust will grow.

The interesting thing about trust is that it’s not a one-way street. The full impact of trust is only delivered in partnership. And, it’s through this virtuous cycle that trust builds and strengthens over time.

Over the past 50 years, the MasterCard brand has come to mean certain things to certain groups. In a store, it’s a promise that you can use your card – or phone – to pay for goods and services. On a card, it’s a simple, yet timeless, reassurance that your money is safe, accessible and secure.

For our retail partners, our brand is synonymous with a guaranteed payment and a partner who understands their business. And, in the Internet of Things, our brand stands for innovation and the belief that new advancements will create greater access and convenience, without sacrificing security or privacy.

Why Trust?  Why Now?

As the chairman of the MasterCard board, I’ve looked for the right opportunity to share my perspective on themes and topics related to driving economic growth and financial inclusion around the world.

The topic of trust and our pledge to deliver on the commitment of financial inclusion seems to be the perfect place to start. After all, it was just about a year ago that our CEO stood on stage at the World Bank promising to deliver 500 million people across the globe access to meaningful financial tools.

We did not take this commitment lightly. There are risks if we don’t deliver. Our board and our executive management recognize the trust people have in our core business and our brand promise. We also realize that trust is fragile, as Warren Buffett once said in a point that every business school student can quickly recite.

We take seriously our commitment to financial inclusion and inclusive growth. It is not charity or philanthropy. It is not pursued for a headline or an award. Rather, it is foundational to who we are as a company today and tomorrow.

Our business – like our financial inclusion efforts – is built on a foundational trust. All parties need to deliver, from the governments that regulate corporate activities and create a good business climate to the private sector that brings experience and proven execution, both locally and globally at scale.

The MasterCard Center for Inclusive Growth, while not part of our commercial endeavors, helps deliver and reinforce the trust and commitment to these efforts.

The Center will continue to work to deliver research and opinion pieces that will inspire discussion and action to drive the inclusion of all in a truly global economy. It is our hope that you’ll hold us to our commitments. But, it’s as important that you join us in the journey. Engage in dialogue. Suggest new areas to explore and research. Confirm that we deliver on our commitment.

After all, as Hemingway once wrote, “The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.”

Rick Haythornthwaite serves as the Chairman of MasterCard.

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