You are currently viewing Executive Profile: How Mastercard’s Kari Takur is leading financial inclusion and delivery of sustainability solutions
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Kari Tukur is a seasoned and accomplished senior executive with a wealth of expertise in the dynamic realms of payments tech and banking. With almost two decades of dedicated service in the financial industry, Kari has established herself as a trailblazer and influential leader.

She is currently the Regional Vice President, Customer Solutions, at Mastercard, where she is responsible for implementing market strategies that ensure Mastercard provides innovative and secure electronic payment solution to its partners and consumer across East, West Africa & India Ocean Island.

Kari’s journey in the financial services sector began with a solid foundation in banking, where she honed her skills in Product and solutions development, business management, risk management, and strategic planning. Her innate ability to navigate the intricacies of the banking landscape allowed her to ascend rapidly through the ranks. She has successfully managed consumer, private, and retail banking activities across Africa and Europe for multinational banks like Banco Santander, Standard Bank, and Standard Chartered bank. She also played a vital role in the successful integration of the Retail business of one of the biggest bank mergers on the continent, Diamond /Access bank.

Kari sits on the Board of DLM capital group which comprises subsidiaries in investment banking, trustees, securities trading, FX, digital banking, asset management, and corporate lending.

Throughout her career, Kari has championed diversity and inclusion, recognizing the importance of fostering a collaborative and innovative work environment. Her leadership style is characterized by a commitment to mentorship and the cultivation of talent. She is very passionate about improving the gender gap in tech and is a huge promoter of the girls for tech agenda.

Can you provide an overview of your role and responsibilities as the Regional Vice President and Head of Customer Solutions at Mastercard in the Indian Ocean Islands, East and West Africa?


As the Vice President, Customer solutions, I am responsible for driving Mastercard’s commitment to financial inclusion and delivery of sustainability solutions for various business segments and consumers across East, West Africa & India Ocean Island.

I also sit on the advisory Board of DLM capital group which comprises subsidiaries in investment banking, trustees, securities trading, FX, digital banking, asset management, and corporate lending.


How do you work towards building strong and lasting relationships with customers in such a diverse and dynamic market?

Building strong and lasting customer relationships is an ongoing process that requires consistent effort and a commitment to understanding and meeting customer needs in a dynamic market. Some of the key principles and strategies that I follow are: Invest time and resources in understanding the diverse needs and preferences of my customer base, actively listen to customer feedback and address concerns promptly, engage in two-way communication to build trust, provide a seamless and consistent experience across various channels, including online, mobile, and in-person interactions, regularly assess and update our product and service offerings to remain competitive and relevant, prioritise transparency and honesty in all interactions and being culturally sensitive and inclusive in our marketing and communication strategies.


What specific strategies or initiatives does Mastercard have in place to address the unique challenges and opportunities that arise in this region?

We work closely with regulatory bodies to ensure that our digital payment solutions meet legal requirements, invest in building and improving digital infrastructure to ensure reliable and accessible digital payment services and develop initiatives to promote financial inclusion, ensuring that a broader population has access to digital payment services.

With the rise in alternative payment methods like digital wallets and RTP, we innovate around interoperability between different digital payment platforms to enhance convenience for users and embrace emerging technologies such as blockchain, AI, and biometrics to enhance the security and efficiency of digital payment systems.

Can you provide examples of successful customer solutions or partnerships that you have worked on in this region?


As a payment professional, I am always at the forefront of industry trends and innovations. I am really passionate about driving innovation in the payments through partnerships from adoption of new technologies to development of new payment solutions or the implementation of strategies to improve payment efficiency and security on the continent. An example is how we efficiently responded to Nigeria’s demonetisation impact of February 2023 with the roll out of low-cost digital acceptance solutions (which includes contactless payments acceptance (tap on phone), tokenisation assets, virtual cards, QR payment links and so on) designed to enable the inclusion of micro and small merchants in the digital economy. Since the product launch in April 2023, we have successfully enabled over 700,000 micro and small businesses with a goal to include an additional 4.5M merchants by 2026.

I have also successfully cultivated both local and global strategic partnerships with key stakeholders in the payment ecosystem, which have been instrument in shaping the future of the local payment ecosystem. Noteworthy is our collaboration with central banks across the continent in crafting transformational polices and mandates for the industry advancement such as: Kenya QR standardisation mandate, Nigeria contactless payment policy and Nigeria open banking mandate.


What role does technology and innovation play in the growth and development of Mastercard’s customer solutions in this region?

Technology and innovation play a pivotal role in the growth and development of Mastercard’s customer solutions globally, including in specific regions.

Lennox Mall

Mastercard leverages technology to develop and enhance digital payment solutions. This includes contactless payments, mobile wallets, and other digital platforms that offer convenience and security to users in the region.

The integration of biometric authentication, such as fingerprint recognition or facial recognition, enhances the security of Mastercard’s customer solutions. This technology provides an additional layer of protection for digital transactions.


Mastercard utilises data analytics and artificial intelligence to analyse transaction data and customer behaviour. This enables the development of personalised customer solutions, targeted marketing strategies, and the identification of emerging trends in the region.

Integration with IoT devices allows Mastercard to offer innovative payment solutions. For example, smart appliances and connected devices can initiate payments seamlessly, contributing to a more interconnected and efficient payment ecosystem.


Given the importance of security in financial transactions, Mastercard invests in cutting-edge cybersecurity technologies. This includes advanced encryption, fraud detection algorithms, and real-time monitoring to protect customers from unauthorised activities.

How do you ensure the security and integrity of financial transactions in an ever-evolving digital landscape?

Mastercard employs a range of security measures to ensure the security and integrity of financial transactions in the digital landscape.

Mastercard uses EMV (Europay, Mastercard, Visa) technology, which involves the use of chip-enabled cards. EMV provides a more secure method of processing transactions compared to traditional magnetic.


Mastercard employs tokenisation to enhance the security of digital transactions. Tokenisation involves replacing sensitive card information with a unique token, reducing the risk of data exposure in case of a breach.

Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is often employed to add an extra layer of security. This may include the use of passwords, biometrics, or one-time passcodes.

Mastercard employs advanced fraud detection and prevention mechanisms, including real-time monitoring of transactions to identify patterns indicative of potential fraud.

3D Secure is an additional layer of security for online transactions. Mastercard SecureCode is the brand name for Mastercard’s implementation of 3D Secure, requiring users to enter a unique code or password during online transactions.

Mastercard adheres to industry standards and regulations related to data security and financial transactions. Compliance with standards such as the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) is crucial.

What future trends do you anticipate in the financial services industry in this region, and how is Mastercard preparing to adapt and respond to them?

The coming together of powerful technologies will lead to a quantum leap change in commerce and payments at large. These technological changes are built on top of an emerging infrastructure of enabling technologies. 5G will enable new use cases across various industry verticals bringing near-term.

Big data – With faster connectivity (e.g. 5G), smart connected devices (IoT), and users spending the majority of their time online, big data will be the key to understanding this new world around us, so those that are able to access, manipulate, and derive insights from this data will win the consumer every time.

Machine Learning – With this increased flow of data, there’s no group of humans capable of turning it into actionable insights, so this is where ML becomes the key separator between companies (and consumer experiences) of the past and companies of the future. Those able to harness the power of ML (and other AI technics) will offer the best experiences, products, and services.

IoT + Edge Compute – As Moore’s Law unfolds, we’re able to place smaller and smaller smart devices into every interface imaginable (e.g. fridge, car, watch, phone, voice assistant, ring, house, and so on). These interfaces will shape the way humans interact with each other and the world around us. To further take advantage of this big data, we’re (tech community) beginning to push cloud compute to the edges, so each interface (e.g. device) has autonomy to make smart decisions.

Blockchain – Changing the way we see security (consensus with unknown parties à trustless trust) and speed (distributed ledger).

These emerging of these technologies will enable a future where commerce is practically invisible, but more secure than it’s ever been and is already beginning to re-defining user experiences in our markets.

Merchants are increasingly turning to solutions that unify multiple APMs via a single API, allowing them to integrate new digital payment methods as demand emerges and consumer preferences change, consumers are now embracing next-gen, non-cash payments, digital wallets, real time payments, and mobile payments. An increasing number of card issuers now support the use of their in-app payments through digital wallet options provided by Apple, Google, Amazon, and so on. Omnichannel is driving the convergence of diverse channels where consumer experience is the main defining feature.

Digitally enthusiastic consumers are demanding convenience, lifestyle-embedded payments that support their needs. Contactless payment reduces the need to touch payments terminals, payment service providers are taking advantage of penetration of smartphones and wearables to scale contactless payments.

In a digitally connected payment world, payment fraud and identity theft is becoming a huge concern, especially as the payment authentication process is fragmented and inconsistent. FIs and PSP are overhauling their digital IDs to ensure frictionless experience for customers.

At Mastercard, we have curated a set of capabilities and partnerships that are in response to their emerging technologies and trends that will enable us deliver an integrated consumer experiences throughout all digital touchpoints.

Even before the pandemic, we already saw financial and non-financial interactions migrating to the mobile with the advent of the emerging tech I mentioned earlier, it became apparent that we could deliver a truly digital experience to our customers. In 2019, we partnered with Apple and launched apple pay. Since then, we have launched 19 more global digital first programmes. What is digital first? It is simply an integrated digital platform that allows you deliver a secure, seamless and frictionless experience to your customers.

The benefits for customer include: Instant digital card issuance for new customers or existing customers who have lost their card or need urgent card replacement, added security with a numberless physical card issuance as a option, provision of the digital card into an issuer wallet or XPay to deliver a seamless payment experience both online and instore with ‘Tap to pay.’

When we look at digital payment acceptance, our guiding principle is centred around unlocking new and more convenient ways to pay beyond cards. We recognise that card payment only accounts for less than 20% of digital payments, in other words, that is over $200trillion of flows captured outside of cards. And so, expanding our reach beyond card and capturing new flows is table stakes for us, and this is why we have deployed a multi rail network for our customers and fintech partners with a philosophy that any store of value (account, card, closed loop wallet, and so on) can be tokenised and enabled for P2M online or instore and processed via Mastercard’s multiple payment rails.

Through solutions like Mastercard send and send cross border, we have been able to demonstrate that indeed we have an unrivalled network reach covering a wide range of cards, real time payments, ACH network.

Importantly, this reach also covers mobile networks and cash out networks. We are talking over 100 countries and 50 currencies.

With Mastercard send, we are able to facilitate near real time payment on and off the card rail.

It is our push payment functionality that enables us solve for multiple use cases such as disbursement, credit card bill payment, P2P payments merchant fast refunds, gaming payout, crypto wallet cash out, and so on.

Our QR link solution solves for two things primarily which are high cost of acceptance terminals and complex implementation of push QR. Very simply, it’s a payment link embedded into a QR code. You can leverage one of the tags in NQR or have any proprietary QR. With this approach to QR deployment, there is zero lift on the side of the originating institution as it as accessible using a regularly phone camera.

It’s a great proposition to include the micro and small merchants into digital payments whilst also enabling cross border acquiring at that merchant location.

Tap on Phone is the latest phase in the evolution of payment acceptance.

This is where we see mobile convergence and next-gen payments. Tap on Phone presents an opportunity to reach small and micro -merchants and enables acquirers to access new segment and new flows and streams of revenue. 70% of merchant say POS terminals are too expensive and benefits to merchants includes minimal set up fee, faster time to market, easy to deploy, meaning any Android device can be converted into a POS terminal. Finally, the last solution we have is ‘Click to Pay’. The online checkout process can be frustrating. Choosing between account creation or a guest checkout option, in addition to manually entering payment information, can be time consuming.

In today’s world, where shopping has shifted to support more digital use cases, consumers, issuers and merchants require a secure and convenient e -commerce experience that reflects the familiar experiences they’ve come to expect in the physical world.

However, customers complained about inconsistencies at checkout lead to sub-optimal customer experiences and frustration. Security concerns affect conversion and result in loss of revenue. As issuers, we experience lower approval rates leading to reduced spend, higher e-commerce fraud incidence and integrations across multiple device partners.

Consumers are looking for a more convenient and secure digital checkout option. Click to pay is Mastercard’s new guest checkout offering a better way to pay online, featuring advanced payment technology and intelligent security. Card details are encrypted and stored in one place which means you no longer need to provide your card details at every check out point. It’s protected by multi layers of security, and the online payment experience standardised across all participating merchant sites.

We are also seeing a growing number of BNPL use cases particularly on alternative payment rails. We have tools for instant scoring and pre and post purchase programmes. That is, consumers can convert their already concluded debit transaction into a pay in 4 instalment plan or lenders can pre-approved a BNPL instalment card.

Mastercard’s business model has evolved over the years from border to borderless payments, card to account, contact to contactless, with customers across various verticals outside of government, telco, retail and digital giants. We are diversifying, investing, and innovating so that our evolution defines the evolution of the industry. We are also embracing partnerships and different perspectives are the table stakes for success in this future world. We will continue to innovate to shape the fabric of commerce and make the digital economy work for everyone, everywhere.

How do you balance your personal life, career, and passions?

Achieving work-life balance is a continuous process that requires self-awareness, prioritisation, and effective time management.

Set boundaries: I avoid checking work emails or taking work calls during personal time.

Focus on high-priority tasks first and delegate or postpone less urgent ones.

Learn to say NO. It’s okay to say no and set realistic expectations.

Establish a routine: I have a weekly routine that includes dedicated time for work, personal activities, and relaxation. Weekends and holidays are for family and self care. This is non-negotiable.

Life circumstances and workloads can change, so I am flexible in adapting my strategies

Learn to disconnect: When I am not at work, I try to fully disconnect from work-related concerns. This helps me recharge and be present in my personal life.

What are you looking forward to in 2024?

2024 holds tremendous potential for the payments industry, and I am excited about leading our organisation through these dynamic changes, ensuring that we not only adapt to the evolving landscape but also contribute positively to the industry’s growth and development. I am eagerly looking forward to several exciting developments and opportunities.

I am excited about the continued evolution of payment technologies, including advancements in digital wallets, contactless payments, and blockchain applications. These innovations have the potential to enhance the customer experience and drive efficiency in transactions.

I am committed to advancing financial inclusion initiatives, leveraging technology to reach underserved populations. I look forward to exploring new partnerships and strategies that will make financial services more accessible to people around the world.

The ongoing focus on cybersecurity is crucial for the payments industry. I am enthusiastic about the development and implementation of cutting-edge security measures, such as biometrics and advanced encryption, to ensure the integrity and safety of digital transactions.

Sustainability is a key concern for businesses today. I am excited about the prospect of integrating environmentally conscious practices into payment processes, such as promoting green fintech solutions and reducing the carbon footprint associated with transactions.

The payments landscape is inherently global, and I am excited about fostering increased collaboration between industry stakeholders, regulatory bodies, and technology partners. Building strong international partnerships can lead to shared insights and the development of standardised practices.

Are there any women leaders or figures who have inspired you in your career journey? What lessons have you drawn from their experiences?

Indra Nooyi served as the CEO of PepsiCo from 2006 to 2018, making her one of the most prominent and successful female CEOs in the corporate world. She is known for her strategic vision and foresight. She led PepsiCo through a period of diversification, expanding the company’s product portfolio to include healthier options and emphasizing sustainability. Under her leadership, PepsiCo made efforts to increase diversity in its workforce and leadership positions. She emphasized the importance of having a diverse team to foster creativity and innovation. Originally from India, she brought a global perspective to her role. Her experiences as an immigrant and a woman in leadership provided a unique viewpoint that contributed to PepsiCo’s global success. She often spoke about the importance of cultural awareness and understanding in the business world. What I find most enduring about her is how vocal she is about the challenges of balancing a demanding career with personal life. Her openness about the struggles working mothers face in achieving work-life balance resonates with me and many others, making her a relatable figure for women in leadership. Indra Nooyi’s inspiring leadership stems from her business acumen, strategic thinking, commitment to diversity, and dedication to making a positive impact on a global scale.

What are your observed challenges with top female executives and how are you surmounting yours?

Women leaders in the financial services industry, like in many other sectors, often encounter various barriers and obstacles that can impede their professional growth.

Gender bias and stereotypes: Deep-rooted stereotypes about gender roles leads to biases, with people assuming that men are better suited for leadership roles in finance or technology.

Underrepresentation: Women are often underrepresented in leadership positions within the financial industry, which can make it more challenging for them to break through and advance in their careers and the scarcity of female role models in top financial positions can contribute to a lack of mentorship and guidance for aspiring women leaders

Old boys network: The financial industry has historically been associated with an “old boys’ network,” where informal networks and relationships play a significant role in career advancement. Women face challenges in breaking into these networks.

Subtle discrimination: Even in workplaces with explicit diversity and inclusion policies, implicit biases may still affect decision-making processes related to promotions, assignments, or opportunities for skill development.

Lack of flexibility: Rigid workplace structures and a lack of flexibility may disproportionately affect women who may need more flexible work arrangements.

On surmounting mine and also giving my advice, I seek out allies who can advocate for my ideas and contributions. Cultivate relationships with mentors, both within and outside your organisation, stay up-to-date with industry trends and advancements., practice assertiveness in expressing your opinions and advocating for your team, encourage a culture of diversity and inclusion within your team and organisation, showcase the value of diverse perspectives in driving innovation and success, develop strong negotiation skills, especially when it comes to salary, promotions, and project assignments, demonstrate your leadership capabilities through actions and results, embrace a growth mindset and be open to learning from challenges and setbacks, and prioritise self-care to maintain physical and mental well-being

To every young lady who desires to get to the top of her career, what do you have to say?

Leadership is a journey of continuous growth, and each leader’s path is unique. By staying true to yourself, advocating for others, and embracing opportunities for learning and development, you can contribute to a more inclusive and empowering future for female leaders.

Believe in yourself: Have confidence in your abilities and recognise your worth. Trust that you bring valuable perspectives and skills to the table.

Embrace a mindset of continuous learning. Stay curious, seek out new knowledge, and be open to acquiring new skills throughout your career.

Surround yourself with mentors, sponsors, and a supportive network of peers. Seek guidance, share experiences, and learn from others who have navigated similar paths.

Be your own advocate. Clearly communicate your achievements, skills, and ambitions. Don’t shy away from expressing your career goals and seeking opportunities for growth.

Challenges will arise, but resilience is key. Learn from setbacks, adapt to change, and use adversity as an opportunity for personal and professional growth.

Negotiate with confidence: Develop strong negotiation skills. Whether it’s salary, promotions, or project opportunities, negotiate with confidence and be prepared to articulate your value.

Why Mastercard as your choice of workplace? So far so good?

So far so great, Mastercard has been recognised globally as a great place to work for several reasons.

Mastercard is known for fostering an innovative and forward-thinking culture. We place a strong emphasis on technology and solutions that drive the payments industry forward.

Mastercard has been committed to promoting diversity and inclusion within its workforce. We value a diverse team and have initiatives in place to ensure equal opportunities for all employees.

Mastercard offers competitive compensation packages and a range of benefits that support employee well-being, including health and wellness programs, retirement plans, and various other perks.

We provide employees with opportunities for professional growth and development. Mastercard emphasizes continuous learning and offers training programmes to enhance skills and knowledge.

Mastercard has been recognised for its commitment to inclusive leadership. We value leaders who promote collaboration, transparency, and open communication within their teams.

Concluding words

Be kind to yourself.


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