How Mastercard is using AI to boost minority business owners

How Mastercard is using AI to boost minority business owners

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Mastercard’s generative AI small business tool, due to launch later this year, will train on content from the card network’s own archives, alongside licensed content from Newsweek, TelevisaUnivision and other select media sources to reach an inclusive audience.

Amir Hamja/Bloomberg

Where there is a field generative AI is expected to make a big difference uses data resources to personalize products and marketing for financial services firms. Mastercard is leading the way with a chatbot it’s developing to provide personalized advice to small business owners.

With plans to test Mastercard Small Business AI later this year, the card network aims to answer business questions in real time to all types of entrepreneurs, including minorities and marginalized groups, through an AI-powered tool designed to limit card bias. the network said in a press release Thursday.

The move comes as Mastercard’s research revealed that the majority of small businesses are understaffed and 88% need mentors. Gen AI presents an opportunity to close some of these gaps.

“Mastercard Small Business AI aims to create mentorship at scale by constantly offering advice from an inclusive resource set,” said Raja Rajamannar, Mastercard’s chief marketing and communications officer.

Using OpenAI as a foundation, the AI ​​model will be trained to provide users with relevant insights on business planning, capital raising, technology management, loan acquisition and other strategies using Mastercard’s own archive of small business educational materials and resources, as well as curated content. third parties.

The chatbot comes from Mastercard’s Digital Doors program, which launched in 2020 to offer digital marketing insights to business users, the Mastercard Trust Center, which launched in 2021 to provide cybersecurity guidance to business owners, and Try the USfinancial inclusion hub Mastercard 2022 launched to connect women- and minority-owned small businesses with capital and other assistance.

Mastercard also licenses third-party content to access the chatbot from vetted articles, podcasts and interviews for small business owners through Mastercard’s partnerships with Newsweek and TelevisaUnivision, Mastercard said in a release.

“Studies show that 22% of new entrepreneurs in the U.S. are Hispanic, and Hispanics are 70% more likely to be small business owners than non-Hispanics,” said Fernando Romero, senior vice president of US digital ad sales at TelevisaUnivision. is the world’s largest Spanish-language media company in terms of audience reach. Romero’s data comes from Stanford Business School’s Latino Entrepreneurship Initiative “State of Latino Entrepreneurship” 2021 Research Report.

For now, TelevisaUnivision is working “primarily” with Mastercard to curate content for its AI initiative, but the firm has plans to expand its partnerships in this area, Romero added.

Two other organizations specializing in minority businesses and communications will provide content for Mastercard’s AI tool – Los Angeles-based Blavity Media Group, a digital media shop with expertise in working with Black Millennials, and Black-owned New York-based Group Black. Black Women Talk Tech podcast and media collective ReachTV supporting Black content creators.

To create its chatbot, Mastercard partnered with Create Labs, a six-year-old New York City-based firm that specializes in artificial intelligence and app design for diverse audiences while limiting biases.

Group Black’s goal in working with Mastercard is to help the card network’s AI tool “go beyond existing online resources and search engines” by providing pragmatic information and inspiration to minority small business owners, said Bonin Bough, the organization’s co-founder and chief strategy officer. officer

“It’s no secret that minority business owners face particular challenges due to the implicit biases that exist in our world — whether it’s difficulty accessing capital, lack of equal access to networking opportunities, or simply breaking down persistent racial stereotypes,” she said. .

A Mastercard spokeswoman said the card network’s AI tool is designed for all small businesses, and that its focus on minority entrepreneurs ensures it reaches the widest possible user base.

By licensing the content that Mastercard Small Business plans to use to train its AI, the card network gets legal protection from situations like copyright infringement lawsuits. The New York Times recently launched a case against Microsoft and OpenAI for using his articles to teach ChatGPT.

According to one observer, it is too early for enterprises to implement next-generation AI tools to see all the potential pitfalls of the new technology.

Mastercard’s use of next-generation artificial intelligence to expand customer relationships makes sense, but the new chatbot raises some “yellow caution lights” for Drew Kerr, longtime head of New York-based marketing and public relations firm The Four Corners.

“AI has the ability to produce fake quotes,” Kerr said, noting that companies using generational AI for marketing and other purposes need to be vigilant to avoid such scams.

Targeting minorities and using minority-owned firms to shape gene AI content is a noble approach, but it needs to be authentic, according to Kerr.

“There is now a distrust of minorities being ‘helped’ by large corporations because historically [many minorities] they feel used,” he said.

Small businesses and their membership associations “will have their antennas up to make sure Mastercard gets the language and visual nuances right,” Kerr said, adding that “Mastercard’s next-generation AI can be a test case to prove it can work in those settings.”

The Small Business AI chatbot is the second of Mastercard’s next-generation AI deployments. The card network was launched last month The Shopping Muse helping consumers choose products online. Mastercard is also using GenAI algorithms in other enterprise applications, including testing and learning with the AI ​​Garage in India, Mastercard said.

After testing the chatbot in the US, Mastercard hopes to expand the concept to international markets and add more partners.

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