Mastercard announced yesterday that it is partnering with Levi Strauss & Co., Marks & Spencer, VF Corporation and the Business for Social Responsibility (BSR) to pay garment factory workers digitally, per a corporate press release.
Mastercard and its partners are organizing pilot programs in Egypt and Cambodia in which participating factories can deposit workers wages directly into their accounts and workers can access the funds via debit or prepaid cards.
Approximately 230 million adults globally collect their wages in cash, per the release.
Mastercard drove home the point that workers not only need savings and earnings transparency, but marginalized workers need to have safeguards against theft and inadequate emergency savings.
"At Mastercard, our vision is to ultimately build a new ecosystem of partners – garment industry, technology, not-for-profit organizations, factories, banks – that work together to deliver social impact at scale," Sue Kelsey, executive vice president of prepaid solutions at Mastercard, said in a statement.
Levi Strauss & Co., Marks & Spencer and VF Corporation are just the latest brands to examine issues regarding factory workers. In August, Asos stepped in when it learned that a supplier deprived workers, many of whom were migrants, of electricity, water and food allowance. Meanwhile, H&M introduced more product transparency details on online garment sales earlier this year.
It's worth noting that American retailers have had issues of their own, including a labor shortage and stagnant wages for some time. While Amazon faced recent backlash from workers in Minnesota and Walmart has tried to address protection issues of workers in its supply chain, it's unclear whether retailers have done enough.
As Mastercard partners with brands to provide financial services for workers abroad, the credit card issuer has made other significant moves this year, including its collaboration with Samsung to safeguard digital identities and its acquisition of fintech company Ethoca.