Call for Leaders – 3Q is a new category where Business Review features our 3 questions with some of Romania’s top business professionals, bringing a positive, insightful, or otherwise constructive view of their markets in the context of the current crisis.
Current conversation: Cosmin Vladimirescu, Country Manager România and Croatia, Mastercard.
What are the measures you took for your business during this period?
Mastercard’s activity closely follows the recommendations and measures issued by the local authorities, as it is our absolute priority to do all in our power to ensure the safety and health of our team, clients, customers and everyone in Romania.
At the same time, as we felt it was our duty to try to be part of the solution, we supported Give Life NGO’s initiative to redirect any incoming donation starting March 11th, by contributing with 100,000 euro that were used for purchasing medical equipment needed in quarantine and isolation centers across the country. At a global level, Mastercard joined forces with The Gates Foundation and Wellcome, and together committed to a $125 million funding for COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator, the R&D program pursuing to speed-up the response to the current epidemic by identifying, assessing, developing, and scaling-up treatments. 20 million dollars were already granted to three institutions – the University of Washington, University of Oxford, and La Jolla Institute for Immunology – to fund clinical trials in order to identify highly potent immunotherapies.
Also, in October 2018 Mastercard had initiated the process of upgrading payment terminals for full compatibility with contactless payments as of January 1st, 2020. Things fell into place recently and we were glad to announce that Romania has joined other European 29 markets that decided to increase the no CVM contactless limit. As a result, Mastercard users are now able to complete transactions of up to 200 RON, without using verification methods such as PIN code or biometric authentication. This measure will ensure safety, speed and peace of mind when paying, while it also provides additional support for people’s daily challenges.
What’s your advice for business leaders regarding this crisis?
We are living challenging times, without any doubts. Business leaders are in the position to set the tone, to give an example to their teams and their industries, as well as for the entire economic landscape and the public opinion. Due to their experience, they are most equipped to both understand reliable facts and information, and see the bigger picture. In my opinion, three things are now essential: to act responsible and encourage those around them to comply to the measures taken by the local authorities, to best support their employees and partners’ well-being and safety and do their best to contribute with relevant initiatives in their local communities.
Lead with responsibility, and join efforts with authorities and trusted NGOs and other businesses in collective actions that can make a difference and shape a better future. Lead by empathy and a spirit of solidarity.
What’s the most positive news you’ve read today and want to share?
As the epidemic causes numbers to grow by the day, I am glad that numerous relevant private, public and private-public actions were and continue to be announced, some by our banking partners. Unicredit Bank announced a 120,000 euro donation for the purchase of medical equipment, Banca Transilvania joined Give Life Association’s efforts in fighting the local impact with a 1.4 million lei donation, BRD donated 1.7 million lei and committed to another 300,000 lei to support independent artists who can no longer carry their activity. BCR contributed with 2.5 million lei to support the purchase of special equipment for state hospitals in Romania, as well as vulnerable people and distance learning programs, while also extending their BCR-InnovX Accelerator to support innovative ideas, proposed by firms and entrepreneurs, that deal with health and economic challenges caused by COVID-19. OTP Bank Romania donated 500,000 lei to contribute to the purchase of vital medical appliances, at the same time TBI Bank contributed with 250,000 to assist the medical sector, while Patria Bank also joined Give Life NGO’s efforts and donated 100,000 lei to support the acquisition of medical supplies. Just days ago, Raiffeisen announced a different type of responsible action: the bank expedited the payment of taxes to state institutions, in order to support the local economy, although current measures allow for delays, and accelerated payments ahead of deadline, to all its suppliers and partners, in order to support the local business environment. At the same time, merchants are putting in a great deal of efforts, via extremely important initiatives, as well as through their national staff that make it possible for people to get the needed products.