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Mastercard CMO Raja Rajamannar on why the financial services giant is betting on Web3

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By Danielle Long, Acting APAC Editor

April 17, 2023 | 6 min read

Mastercard has launched a unique Web3 music-focused program as the financial services giant continues its strategy of engaging consumers with their passions via multi-sensory marketing.

Mastercard music pass

Mastercard launches unique Web3 music program

The Mastercard Artist Accelerator, will work with emerging musical artists to accelerate their careers in the digital economy, while also providing music fans with access to exclusive content and experiences via a limited-release Mastercard Music Pass NFT.

The artists, which include Vietnamese American-singer Emily Vu, Brooklyn-based hip-hop artist Cocoa Sarai; Nigerian R&B/Afrobeats record producer and songwriter LeriQ; Venezuelan pop artist Manu Manzo; and London-based R&B soul singer and BRIT School alumna Young Athena, represent a range of genres and backgrounds.

Raja Rajamannar, chief marketing and communications officer, Mastercard, says the programme is part of the brand's commitment to Web3, which it believes "has very real, powerful potential across industries and business functions".

"The pace of change we’re seeing in the marketing space is truly extraordinary. Emerging technologies like AI, 5G and Web3 — the next stage of the internet powered by blockchain technology — are on the cusp of transforming how brands communicate with, serve and build trust with their consumers. And that’s already practically unrecognizable from the way we connected just a few years ago, let alone a few decades ago.

"Not only can these Web3 technologies drive splashy innovations in virtual, augmented and hybrid realities, but they deliver very simple, real-world benefits like greater transparency, more consumer choice, seamless experiences and digital asset ownership. As a company, we hope to help people, businesses and our partners around the world better understand and trust how blockchain and digital assets are used – and how our technology can support the ecosystem.

"We also believe that Web3 can be a powerful tool in connecting people and building communities around shared universal passions. Like others, we’re exploring and experimenting with Web3 technology to extend our brand efforts – willing to fail fast but hoping to succeed."

Rajamanner says that while Web3 has been included in the hype of the many emerging technologies, as "many companies rushed in, and, in recent weeks, some have rushed out", he believes it is important that major brands such as Mastercard experiment in the space to help accelerate the opportunities for others.

"The potential of Web3 to deliver on its promise of opportunity and inclusion for all depends on whether people will embrace it. That’s why it’s important for trusted brands to experiment responsibly in the space and to push ourselves and our partners to harness new technologies in ways that are meaningful to people.

"Innovating with purpose is always the goal, but innovating for passion is where true impact lives," he says.

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The Asia Pacific perspective

The popularity and growth of Web3 technologies in Asia Pacific has been significant, particularly in Southeast Asian countries, including Singapore, Vietnam, Thailand, and the Philippines, as well as strong popularity in South Korea. Meanwhile, Taiwan has launched the world’s first virtual reality music label and an Australian entertainment startup has developed its own NFT music platform.

Julie Nestor, senior vice president, head of marketing and communications, Asia Pacific says, “One of the incredible things about Web3 technologies, and NFTs in particular, are the way in which they offer creators more flexibility and ownership of their content, while generating exciting new ways for fans to engage with their art,”

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