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Mastercard (MA) SWOT Analysis / TOWS Matrix / MBA Resources

Introduction to SWOT Analysis

SWOT Analysis / TOWS Matrix for Mastercard (Germany)


Based on various researches at Oak Spring University , Mastercard is operating in a macro-environment that has been destablized by – geopolitical disruptions, increasing transportation and logistics costs, increasing energy prices, there is backlash against globalization, there is increasing trade war between United States & China, supply chains are disrupted by pandemic , customer relationship management is fast transforming because of increasing concerns over data privacy, challanges to central banks by blockchain based private currencies, talent flight as more people leaving formal jobs, etc



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Introduction to SWOT Analysis of Mastercard


SWOT stands for an organization’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats . At Oak Spring University, we believe that Mastercard can use SWOT analysis as a strategic management tool to assess the current internal strengths and weaknesses of the Mastercard, and to figure out the opportunities and threats in the macro environment – technological, environmental, political, economic, social, demographic, etc in which Mastercard operates in.

According to Harvard Business Review, 75% of the managers use SWOT analysis for various purposes such as – evaluating current scenario, strategic planning, new venture feasibility, personal growth goals, new market entry, Go To market strategies, portfolio management and strategic trade-off assessment, organizational restructuring, etc.




SWOT Objectives / Importance of SWOT Analysis and SWOT Matrix


SWOT analysis of Mastercard can be done for the following purposes –
1. Strategic planning of Mastercard
2. Improving business portfolio management of Mastercard
3. Assessing feasibility of the new initiative in Germany
4. Making a Consumer Financial Services sector specific business decision
5. Set goals for the organization
6. Organizational restructuring of Mastercard




Strengths of Mastercard | Internal Strategic Factors
What are Strengths in SWOT Analysis / TOWS Matrix / Weighted SWOT Analysis

The strengths of Mastercard are -

Low bargaining power of suppliers

– Suppliers of Mastercard in the Financial sector have low bargaining power. Mastercard has further diversified its suppliers portfolio by building a robust supply chain across various countries. This helps Mastercard to manage not only supply disruptions but also source products at highly competitive prices.

Organizational Resilience of Mastercard

– The covid-19 pandemic has put organizational resilience at the centre of everthing Mastercard does. Organizational resilience comprises - Financial Resilience, Operational Resilience, Technological Resilience, Organizational Resilience, Business Model Resilience, and Reputation Resilience.

Sustainable margins compare to other players in Consumer Financial Services industry

– Mastercard has clearly differentiated products in the market place. This has enabled Mastercard to fetch slight price premium compare to the competitors in the Consumer Financial Services industry. The sustainable margins have also helped Mastercard to invest into research and development (R&D) and innovation.

Training and development

– Mastercard has one of the best training and development program in Financial industry. The effectiveness of the training programs can be measured in – employees retention, in-house promotion, loyalty, new venture initiation, lack of conflict, and high level of both employees and customer engagement.

High brand equity

– Mastercard has strong brand awareness and brand recognition among both - the exiting customers and potential new customers. Strong brand equity has enabled Mastercard to keep acquiring new customers and building profitable relationship with both the new and loyal customers.

Effective Research and Development (R&D)

– Mastercard has innovation driven culture where significant part of the revenues are spent on the research and development activities. This has resulted in – Mastercard staying ahead in the Consumer Financial Services industry in terms of – new product launches, superior customer experience, highly competitive pricing strategies, and great returns to the shareholders.

Digital Transformation in Consumer Financial Services industry

- digital transformation varies from industry to industry. For Mastercard digital transformation journey comprises differing goals based on market maturity, customer technology acceptance, and organizational culture. Mastercard has successfully integrated the four key components of digital transformation – digital integration in processes, digital integration in marketing and customer relationship management, digital integration into the value chain, and using technology to explore new products and market opportunities.

Ability to recruit top talent

– Mastercard is one of the leading players in the Consumer Financial Services industry in Germany. It is in a position to attract the best talent available in Germany. The firm has a robust talent identification program that helps in identifying the brightest.

Operational resilience

– The operational resilience strategy of Mastercard comprises – understanding the underlying the factors in the Consumer Financial Services industry, building diversified operations across different geographies so that disruption in one part of the world doesn’t impact the overall performance of the firm, and integrating the various business operations and processes through its digital transformation drive.

Learning organization

- Mastercard is a learning organization. It has inculcated three key characters of learning organization in its processes and operations – exploration, creativity, and expansiveness. The work place at Mastercard is open place that encourages instructiveness, ideation, open minded discussions, and creativity. Employees and leaders at Mastercard emphasize – knowledge, initiative, and innovation.

Strong track record of project management in the Consumer Financial Services industry

– Mastercard is known for sticking to its project targets. This enables the firm to manage – time, project costs, and have sustainable margins on the projects.

Innovation driven organization

– Mastercard is one of the most innovative firm in Consumer Financial Services sector.






Weaknesses of Mastercard | Internal Strategic Factors
What are Weaknesses in SWOT Analysis / TOWS Matrix / Weighted SWOT Analysis

The weaknesses of Mastercard are -

Employees’ less understanding of Mastercard strategy

– From the outside it seems that the employees of Mastercard don’t have comprehensive understanding of the firm’s strategy. This is reflected in number of promotional campaigns over the last few years that had mixed messaging and competing priorities. Some of the strategic activities and services promoted in the promotional campaigns were not consistent with the organization’s strategy.

High dependence on existing supply chain

– The disruption in the global supply chains because of the Covid-19 pandemic and blockage of the Suez Canal illustrated the fragile nature of Mastercard supply chain. Even after few cautionary changes, Mastercard is still heavily dependent upon the existing supply chain. The existing supply chain though brings in cost efficiencies but it has left Mastercard vulnerable to further global disruptions in South East Asia.

Products dominated business model

– Even though Mastercard has some of the most successful models in the Consumer Financial Services industry, this business model has made each new product launch extremely critical for continuous financial growth of the organization. Mastercard should strive to include more intangible value offerings along with its core products and services.

High cash cycle compare to competitors

Mastercard has a high cash cycle compare to other players in the Consumer Financial Services industry. It needs to shorten the cash cycle by 12% to be more competitive in the marketplace, reduce inventory costs, and be more profitable.

Increasing silos among functional specialists

– The organizational structure of Mastercard is dominated by functional specialists. It is not different from other players in the Consumer Financial Services industry, but Mastercard needs to de-silo the office environment to harness the true potential of its workforce. Secondly the de-silo will also help Mastercard to focus more on services in the Consumer Financial Services industry rather than just following the product oriented approach.

Compensation and incentives

– The revenue per employee of Mastercard is just above the Consumer Financial Services industry average. It needs to redesign the compensation structure and incentives to increase the revenue per employees. Some of the steps that it can take are – hiring more specialists on project basis, etc.

Capital Spending Reduction

– Even during the low interest decade, Mastercard has not been able to do capital spending to the tune of the competition. This has resulted into fewer innovations and company facing stiff competition from both existing competitors and new entrants who are disrupting the Consumer Financial Services industry using digital technology.

Slow decision making process

– As mentioned earlier in the report, Mastercard has a very deliberative decision making approach. This approach has resulted in prudent decisions, but it has also resulted in missing opportunities in the Consumer Financial Services industry over the last five years. Mastercard even though has strong showing on digital transformation primary two stages, it has struggled to capitalize the power of digital transformation in marketing efforts and new venture efforts.

Interest costs

– Compare to the competition, Mastercard has borrowed money from the capital market at higher rates. It needs to restructure the interest payment and costs so that it can compete better and improve profitability.

High dependence on Mastercard ‘s star products

– The top 2 products and services of Mastercard still accounts for major business revenue. This dependence on star products in Consumer Financial Services industry has resulted into insufficient focus on developing new products, even though Mastercard has relatively successful track record of launching new products.

No frontier risks strategy

– From the 10K / annual statement of Mastercard, it seems that company is thinking out the frontier risks that can impact Consumer Financial Services industry. But it has very little resources allocation to manage the risks emerging from events such as natural disasters, climate change, melting of permafrost, tacking the rise of artificial intelligence, opportunities and threats emerging from commercialization of space etc.




Mastercard Opportunities | External Strategic Factors
What are Opportunities in the SWOT Analysis / TOWS Matrix / Weighted SWOT Analysis


The opportunities of Mastercard are -

Remote work and new talent hiring opportunities

– The widespread usage of remote working technologies during Covid-19 has opened opportunities for Mastercard to expand its talent hiring zone. According to McKinsey Global Institute, 20% of the high end workforce in fields such as finance, information technology, can continously work from remote local post Covid-19. This presents a really great opportunity for Mastercard to hire the very best people irrespective of their geographical location.

Harnessing reconfiguration of the global supply chains

– As the trade war between US and China heats up in the coming years, Mastercard can build a diversified supply chain model across various countries in - South East Asia, India, and other parts of the world. This reconfiguration of global supply chain can help Mastercard to buy more products closer to the markets, and it can leverage its size and influence to get better deal from the local markets.

Leveraging digital technologies

– Mastercard can leverage digital technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning to automate the production process, customer analytics to get better insights into consumer behavior, realtime digital dashboards to get better sales tracking, logistics and transportation, product tracking, etc.

Changes in consumer behavior post Covid-19

– consumer behavior has changed in the Consumer Financial Services industry because of Covid-19 restrictions. Some of this behavior will stay once things get back to normal. Mastercard can take advantage of these changes in consumer behavior to build a far more efficient business model. For example consumer regular ordering of products can reduce both last mile delivery costs and market penetration costs. Mastercard can further use this consumer data to build better customer loyalty, provide better products and service collection, and improve the value proposition in inflationary times.

Manufacturing automation

– Mastercard can use the latest technology developments to improve its manufacturing and designing process in Consumer Financial Services sector. It can use CAD and 3D printing to build a quick prototype and pilot testing products. It can leverage automation using machine learning and artificial intelligence to do faster production at lowers costs, and it can leverage the growth in satellite and tracking technologies to improve inventory management, transportation, and shipping.

Developing new processes and practices

– Mastercard can develop new processes and procedures in Consumer Financial Services industry using technology such as automation using artificial intelligence, real time transportation and products tracking, 3D modeling for concept development and new products pilot testing etc.

Identify volunteer opportunities

– Covid-19 has impacted working population in two ways – it has led to people soul searching about their professional choices, resulting in mass resignation. Secondly it has encouraged people to do things that they are passionate about. This has opened opportunities for businesses to build volunteer oriented socially driven projects. Mastercard can explore opportunities that can attract volunteers and are consistent with its mission and vision.

Building a culture of innovation

– managers at Mastercard can make experimentation a productive activity and build a culture of innovation using approaches such as – mining transaction data, A/B testing of websites and selling platforms, engaging potential customers over various needs, and building on small ideas in the Consumer Financial Services industry.

Increase in government spending

– As the United States and other governments are increasing social spending and infrastructure spending to build economies post Covid-19, Mastercard can use these opportunities to build new business models that can help the communities that Mastercard operates in. Secondly it can use opportunities from government spending in Consumer Financial Services sector.

Use of Bitcoin and other crypto currencies for transactions in Consumer Financial Services industry

– The popularity of Bitcoin and other crypto currencies as asset class and medium of transaction has opened new opportunities for Mastercard in the Consumer Financial Services industry. Now Mastercard can target international markets with far fewer capital restrictions requirements than the existing system.

Low interest rates

– Even though inflation is raising its head in most developed economies, Mastercard can still utilize the low interest rates to borrow money for capital investment. Secondly it can also use the increase of government spending in infrastructure projects to get new business.

Lowering marketing communication costs

– 5G expansion will open new opportunities for Mastercard in the field of marketing communication. It will bring down the cost of doing business, provide technology platform to build new products in the Consumer Financial Services industry, and it will provide faster access to the consumers.

Reforming the budgeting process

- By establishing new metrics that will be used to evaluate both existing and potential projects Mastercard can not only reduce the costs of the project but also help it in integrating the projects with other processes within the organization.




Threats Mastercard External Strategic Factors
What are Threats in the SWOT Analysis / TOWS Matrix / Weighted SWOT Analysis


The threats of Mastercard are -

Increasing international competition and downward pressure on margins

– Apart from technology driven competitive advantage dilution, Mastercard can face downward pressure on margins from increasing competition from international players. The international players have stable revenue in their home market and can use those resources to penetrate Mastercard prominent markets.

Easy access to finance

– Easy access to finance in Consumer Financial Services industry will also reduce the barriers to entry in the industry, thus putting downward pressure on the prices because of increasing competition. Mastercard can utilize it by borrowing at lower rates and invest it into research and development, capital expenditure to fortify its core competitive advantage.

Consumer confidence and its impact on Mastercard demand

– There is a high probability of declining consumer confidence, given – high inflammation rate, rise of gig economy, lower job stability, increasing cost of living, higher interest rates, and aging demography. All the factors contribute to people saving higher rate of their income, resulting in lower consumer demand in Consumer Financial Services industry and other sectors.

Environmental challenges

– Mastercard needs to have a robust strategy against the disruptions arising from climate change and energy requirements. EU has identified it as key priority area and spending 30% of its 880 billion Euros European post Covid-19 recovery funds on green technology. Mastercard can take advantage of this fund but it will also bring new competitors in the Consumer Financial Services industry.

Technology acceleration in Forth Industrial Revolution

– Mastercard has witnessed rapid integration of technology during Covid-19 in the Consumer Financial Services industry. As one of the leading players in the industry, Mastercard needs to keep up with the evolution of technology in the Consumer Financial Services sector. According to Mckinsey study top managers believe that the adoption of technology in operations, communications is 20-25 times faster than what they planned in the beginning of 2019.

Increasing wage structure of Mastercard

– Post Covid-19 there is a sharp increase in the wages especially in the jobs that require interaction with people. The increasing wages can put downward pressure on the margins of Mastercard.

Learning curve for new practices

– As the technology based on artificial intelligence and machine learning platform is getting complex, Mastercard may face longer learning curve for training and development of existing employees. This can open space for more nimble competitors in the field of Consumer Financial Services sector.

Stagnating economy with rate increase

– Mastercard can face lack of demand in the market place because of Fed actions to reduce inflation. This can lead to sluggish growth in the economy, lower demands, lower investments, higher borrowing costs, and consolidation in the Consumer Financial Services industry.

New competition

– After the dotcom bust of 2001, financial crisis of 2008-09, the business formation in US economy had declined. But in 2020 alone, there are more than 1.5 million new business applications in United States. This can lead to greater competition for Mastercard in the Consumer Financial Services sector and impact the bottomline of the organization.

Backlash against dominant players

– US Congress and other legislative arms of the government are getting tough on big business especially technology companies. The digital arm of Mastercard business can come under increasing regulations regarding data privacy, data security, etc.

High dependence on third party suppliers

– Mastercard high dependence on third party suppliers can disrupt its processes and delivery mechanism. For example -the current troubles of car makers because of chip shortage is because the chip companies started producing chips for electronic companies rather than car manufacturers.

Capital market disruption

– During the Covid-19, Dow Jones has touched record high. The valuations of a number of companies are way beyond their existing business model potential. This can lead to capital market correction which can put a number of suppliers, collaborators, value chain partners in great financial difficulty. It will directly impact the business of Mastercard.

Trade war between China and United States

– The trade war between two of the biggest economies can hugely impact the opportunities for Mastercard in Consumer Financial Services industry. The Consumer Financial Services industry is already at various protected from local competition in China, with the rise of trade war the protection levels may go up. This presents a clear threat of current business model in Chinese market.




Weighted SWOT Analysis of Mastercard Template, Example


Not all factors mentioned under the Strengths, Weakness, Opportunities, and Threats quadrants in the SWOT Analysis are equal. Managers at Mastercard needs to zero down on the relative importance of each factor mentioned in the Strengths, Weakness, Opportunities, and Threats quadrants. We can provide the relative importance to each factor by assigning relative weights. Weighted SWOT analysis process is a three stage process –

First stage for doing weighted SWOT analysis of Mastercard is to rank the strengths and weaknesses of the organization. This will help you to assess the most important strengths and weaknesses of the firm and which one of the strengths and weaknesses mentioned in the initial lists are marginal and can be left out.

Second stage for conducting weighted SWOT analysis of Mastercard is to give probabilities to the external strategic factors thus better understanding the opportunities and threats arising out of macro environment changes and developments.

Third stage of constructing weighted SWOT analysis of Mastercard to provide strategic recommendations includes – joining likelihood of external strategic factors such as opportunities and threats to the internal strategic factors – strengths and weaknesses. You should start with external factors as they will provide the direction of the overall industry. Secondly by joining probabilities with internal strategic factors can help the company not only strategic fit but also the most probably strategic trade-off that Mastercard needs to make to build a sustainable competitive advantage.



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