The Next Step In Gender Equality

To be included in the global financial system, women need digital identities, MasterCard executive says.

Giving people digital identities, including access to mobile banking, is key to promoting worldwide equality, according to MasterCard executive Ann Cairns.

"Many of the people who are excluded [from the global financial system] today are women," Cairns told The Huffington Post's Caroline Modarressy-Tehrani during an interview at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Friday.

"They don't have identities -- I mean who are they? They're somebody's mother, they're somebody's daughter, they're somebody's sister. But if you start to give people in your country digital identities, they're someone in their own right and can be included in the wider world," she said.

It's usually best to start with governments when trying to convince people worldwide that it's a good idea to give everyone digital identities for financial purposes, Cairns said.

Government payments account for a full 31 percent of cash in the world, she noted. One way to begin is to have governments try to reach every citizen -- to distribute social benefits, or, in reverse, as a method to collect taxes.

She argued that governments can even fuel economic growth by giving everyone in their countries a digital identity so they can make and receive payments online.

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