Ready to transform for the future

MasterCard is set to future-proof its organisation

Besides our expertise and business-relevant research, our Centre for Financial Services was another reason why MasterCard selected Vlerick to set up an academic chair. Max Lanckriet, Group Executive Customer Delivery Europe at MasterCard, Ignace Combes, Chairman of the Vlerick Centre for Financial Services, and Regine Slagmulder, Professor of Risk & Governance and Director of executive MBA programmes at Vlerick, comment on some of the drivers for their decision and the benefits of the MasterCard Chair for all involved.

From left to right: George Simon (President Central Eastern Europe, MasterCard), Ignace Combes (Chairman Centre for Financial Services), Professor Björn Cumps, Professor Regine Slagmulder, Max Lanckriet (MasterCard), Vinciane Verbiest (MasterCard) and Dean Philippe Haspeslagh.

Max sums up the challenges ahead: “The financial industry in general and the global payments ecosystem in particular are evolving rapidly, not least because of new regulations. A new European law will be coming into force just a few months from now. Our business comes down to connecting banks, telecom providers, merchants, governments and consumers, but our traditional business model and ecosystem are changing. Payment cards are no longer issued by banks alone, but also by retailers, telecom providers and even governments. Digital giants like Apple Pay and Google are claiming their share of the market, joined by innovative start-ups, and all sorts of partnerships and joint ventures. Moreover, technology is advancing faster than ever.”

And he goes on: “As a company, we constantly seek to drive growth through innovation, so staying at the forefront of technology and knowing how to adapt are crucial. This Chair has been aptly dubbed ‘Transforming for the future’. It will enable us not only to tap into valuable research and expertise, but also to incorporate it into our organisation. That’s why we’re looking forward to the workshops that are scheduled about four times a year.”

Belgian FinTech

Besides the workshops, the Centre for Financial Services has developed other initiatives to share expertise and stimulate innovation, as Ignace explains: “Max has already touched on the importance of technology. As a matter of fact, the Centre is currently launching a knowledge centre to focus on technology innovation and disruptive competitive change. It aims to leverage Vlerick’s expertise in, for example, digitisation and big data for the benefit of the financial services sector. And there’s more. Technology developments in general have a huge impact on companies like MasterCard. Not only do they affect its clients, they also directly affect MasterCard as a payment infrastructure provider. This is why the Centre, together with external partners, wants to set up a Belgian FinTech ecosystem in order to support innovation and make technology more visible, by organising boot camps and other events.”

Business transformation framework

Due to the increased volatility and complexity of today’s global business environment, companies like MasterCard are facing an economic reality that is rich in opportunity, yet at the same time more risky and challenging. Regine believes Vlerick can help MasterCard better anticipate these strategic challenges and help it gain a competitive advantage by dealing with these challenges in a more flexible and more proactive way. “Given our expertise in the areas of strategy, business model innovation, risk management and risk governance, and our knowledge of the regulatory environment and the financial sector in general, we’re well placed to identify leading practices across domains and sectors, which we then translate into a coherent framework tailored to MasterCard’s specific context. This framework should enable the company to evaluate and strengthen its structures, processes and organisational roles for dealing with any economic, competitive, regulatory or geo-political shocks.”


“If I could just pick up on our domain and sector expertise for a moment,” says Ignace. “There’s the Centre for Financial Services, but Vlerick has also established centres of excellence in other areas like energy, healthcare and supply chain management, to name just a few examples. The energy sector for one has already gone through major restructuring as a result of European regulation designed to promote liberalisation of the market. Examples of how the energy service providers have adjusted to the regulatory changes, how they’ve adapted their business models to deal with the new competitive landscape will serve as an inspiring reference for the transformation MasterCard will be going through.”

Icing on the cake

This Chair is inspired by Vlerick’s pragmatic approach to developing knowledge and translating it into action. For Max, the icing on the cake is that both organisations will benefit from the insights gained. “At Vlerick, research is fed back into teaching. If we send our staff to any of the School’s programmes, we know they too will get the benefit of the Chair’s results.”

Regine speaks for everyone when she sums it up as follows: “We very much look forward to joining forces with MasterCard to co-design a flexible and resilient organisation that is optimally prepared to meet any challenges that come its way.”

MasterCard (NYSE: MA) is a technology company in the global payments industry. We operate the world’s fastest payments processing network, connecting consumers, financial institutions, merchants, governments and businesses in more than 210 countries and territories. MasterCard’s products and solutions make everyday commerce activities – such as shopping, traveling, running a business and managing finances – easier, more secure and more efficient for everyone.