Case Study

Mastercard’s ethical approach to governing AI

12 pages
April 2022
Reference: IMD-7-2288

Mastercard, the global payments company, is known as a leader in privacy by design; senior leaders promote data responsibility and employees follow strict ethical guidelines and robust frameworks to manage and protect data. The company views AI as a significant part of its strategy going forward, using it to fight fraud, improve the consumer payment experience, increase efficiencies and decrease costs in back-end systems. When Mastercard created its AI Garage in 2018, its vision was to become an AI powerhouse. Realizing the special attention AI development efforts need, several leaders in the organization co-created the AI Governance Council and a framework to structure the company’s approach to governing AI. The application of this framework led to several significant decisions, including walking away from two acquisitions. Mastercard believes that the combination of a solid Privacy by Design process and additional governance specific to AI – “the AI governance framework” – is the right approach for the long term to maintain consumer trust. Yet, while being a trusted guardian of data with this robust AI governance framework, Mastercard also faces the costs of its high accountability stance – forcing it to make appropriate organizational and managerial choices as well as ensuring that AI governance does not result in a reduction in innovation. The speed of AI integration and need for ethics in data practices will only increase. What does this mean for Mastercard’s business model, profitability and innovation capabilities in the future?

Learning Objective
  • Discover why organizations investing in AI should also specifically think about addressing potential ethical implications.
  • Understand the privacy-related implications of data-driven initiatives and how this can be addressed proactively, using Privacy by Design.
  • Analyze a best-practice approach to operationalizing ethical AI governance.
  • Explore opportunities and challenges associated with having formal governance mechanisms for AI and for privacy.
Digital, Ethics, Artificial Intelligence, Decent Work Conditions, Economic Growth, Peace, Justice, Strong Institution
Mastercard, Finance and Insurance, Financial Services
Field Research
© 2022
Available Languages
Related material
Teaching note
Case clearing houses
IMD case studies are distributed through case clearing houses. In order to browse the collection and purchase copies please visit the links below.

The Case Centre

Cranfield University

Wharley End Beds MK43 0JR, UK
Tel +44 (0)1234 750903
Email [email protected]

Harvard Business School Publishing

60 Harvard Way, Boston MA 02163, USA
Tel (800) 545-7685 Tel (617)-783-7600
Fax (617) 783-7666
Email [email protected]

Asia Pacific Case Center

NUCB Business School

1-3-1 Nishiki Naka
Nagoya Aichi, Japan 460-0003
Tel +81 52 20 38 111
Email [email protected]


Research Information & Knowledge Hub for additional information on IMD publications

Discover our latest research
IMD's faculty and research teams publish articles, case studies, books and reports on a wide range of topics