MasterCard wanted to understand the impact of being financially ‘excluded’ or ‘underserved’ on people’s everyday lives. Today’s society doesn’t cater well for people with no access to a bank account or a means to pay electronically and, as a result, these people can be financially excluded in numerous ways: they struggle to find employment, are often limited to ‘cash-in-hand’ jobs, shopping online is problematic and they’re unable to benefit from online discounts like cheap flights, limiting the options for how they can shop.

MasterCard commissioned the research in anticipation of a key conference in which they wanted to explore the challenges of financial exclusion, and to aid ongoing lobbying efforts with the European Commission around the provision of, and access to, basic payment accounts.

What we did:

An in-depth ethnographic study looked qualitatively at how 36 different households across the UK, France, Spain, Italy, Poland and Russia live day-to-day under these circumstances, understanding the ways in which people manage whilst financially excluded/underserved. This research aimed to illustrate the everyday lives of those who are often hidden from financial institutions in Europe, as they currently have little or no relationship with them.

Key insight:

In exploring the challenges of financial exclusion, three key themes emerged: that money management is an issue, access to technology is varied, and that education about financial inclusion is very important.


This study’s findings were presented at the European Commission and a report was published on the topic:


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