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J.K. Khalil

Cluster General Manager of MENA East, Mastercard


With over 18 years of experience, J.K. Khalil has held a number of roles across multinational banks, top tier consulting firms, and tech start-ups. In his previous role at Mastercard, he was general manager of MENA central and the Mastercard Advisors region lead for MENA central before that. Prior to Mastercard, Khalil was with Strategy& and Barclays Bank. He was recognized in Arabian Business’ Young Achievers List in 2021 and ranked among the 50 individuals making the greatest impact on the growth and development of the UAE in 2023. He holds an MBA with distinction from the University of Chicago (Booth) and holds a computer systems & networks engineering degree from the St. Joseph University in Beirut.

“ESG is integral to our vision of doing well by doing good.”
Mastercard plays a key role in the UAE’s adoption of digital payment schemes by collaborating with governments, telcos, large merchants, fintechs, and banks to develop the fintech segment, payment ecosystem, and digital economy.
What main trends is Mastercard predicting in its Economic Outlook 2023?

First and foremost on everyone’s radar is sustainability and COP28, which will provide a platform for people and organizations to showcase their innovations in the areas of technology, sustainability, and renewable energy. The second trend has to do with new technologies and emerging platforms, which will create disruptive business models, leading to new opportunities for collaboration, content creation, and knowledge sharing. Third, there will be more consolidation and rationalization across sectors, and certain businesses may pivot or merge. Overall, the economy will be a mixed bag, depending on the sector and region. The good news is that the UAE is expected to be in a better position regarding inflation and capital pressures compared to the rest of the world.

What is Mastercard’s role in the UAE’s adoption of digital payment schemes?

I view the world in three dimensions through the lens of our Mastercard payments matrix. The first dimension is markets: every market has a different development trajectory. In the Middle East, regulators are proactive about putting their weight behind the payment ecosystem and setting the pace of innovation and are comfortable doing so. This is helped by the fact that consumers in the region are sophisticated. In the second dimension, we look at segments. We work closely with banks and governments to drive the development of the fintech segment, payment ecosystem, and the digital economy. Telcos, large merchants, and fintechs are also getting more involved in the digital economy and playing an increasingly vital role. The third dimension is rails, where we look beyond the segments and markets to determine the right rails and technologies for each ecosystem. For example, we are now the dominant player on the remittance side. We are also enabling merchants to accept online payments and participate in the fast-growing e-commerce business. In line with our efforts to drive innovation, we are collaborating with a few fintechs on developing Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) solutions, as well as open banking use cases that add value to consumers and merchants. Another key priority for us is supporting SMEs, where we see additional room for growth. Our innovative omnichannel products serve as key enablers across these three dimensions. We are working with digital banks, traditional banks, and marketplaces such as Amazon to develop the UAE’s digital ecosystem.

What are Mastercard’s commitments in terms of ESG, and how has it become a driver of its work in the UAE?

ESG is integral to our vision of doing well by doing good, which is why we are incorporating ESG principles across our operations. We have broken down our approach into three pillars—people, planet, and prosperity. Together, these three pillars constitute our holistic framework. For example, we have formed the Priceless Planet Coalition (PPC), where we have partnered with global environmental NGOs to unify the efforts of supporters, whether they are banks, consumers, or merchants, to plant 100 million trees with the aim of helping combat climate change. To contribute to global efforts aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions, we have partnered an invested in Doconomy, a company that offers one of the best carbon calculators worldwide. We work with our issuers globally to help them illustrate to their consumers how their spending impacts the planet through our carbon calculator. In our own operations, we aim to be carbon-neutral by 2040, and by 2028, all our cards will be made of sustainable plastic. This year, we look forward to supporting COP28 when the global event comes to the UAE. We believe in being transparent about our ESG initiatives and have published a detailed ESG report that showcases our progress, areas of focus, and commitments. Our approach to ESG is an integral part of our identity as a company and our vision for the future. We will continue to evolve our ESG initiatives to impact our planet and society positively.



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