For seven years, Miguel Gamiño worked in technology leadership for some of the largest cities in the U.S. — first El Paso, Texas, then San Francisco, then New York.
Now, he’s going to be in charge of forming relationships with cities like those and figuring out their problems from the outside, as executive vice president for global cities at Mastercard.
“We want to be a thoughtful listener and partner with the cities to surface what [their problems] are,” Gamiño said. “And where those problems intersect with our strengths, that’s the sweet spot.”
Thus far, the main thrust of Mastercard’s recent work with cities has been in transportation — transit in particular. It’s worked with Chicago to try to figure out how to get baseball fans to flock to a stadium over a longer span of time instead of all at once. It’s partnered with Mexico City to offer more digital payment capabilities for buses and trains. And it’s pushing payment solutions for people without bank accounts, as well as economic activity data to help urban planners.
But Gamiño, who will be based out of New York City for his new job, wants to keep pushing into other areas. And he wants to do it by talking with people in local government about the problems their constituents are facing.
“I think [Mastercard has] a lot of resources and knowledge and expertise in facilitating those interactions between people, and between people and services and that sort of thing,” he said. “So I think this is really about leveraging that underlying asset and strength to figure out how cities can make progress with the existing assets they have.”
Data will likely play a big role in that mission. And as a company that handles a lot of financial transactions, Mastercard has a lot of data.
Gamiño describes it as “very wide sets of experiential data.” For example, Mastercard has an initiative it calls SpendingPulse, which is a macroeconomic indicator tool based on retail spending. The city of Dublin, Ireland, recently turned to the tool to supplement its information on economic growth.
The company has been emphasizing partnerships with other non-governmental entities as well. In the latter half of 2017, it launched City Possible, an effort to bring together partners to collaborate on solving urban problems using innovative approaches.
Gamiño has a lot of experience building those kinds of partnerships. In his time working for New York City, he launched the NYCx program aimed at solving the city’s problems via public-private partnerships. In San Francisco, he worked with startups in the area to experiment with the Internet of Things.
“I think it’s about finding ways to use the experience that I possess, and that Mastercard possesses, and then use it to make tech work for people — my mantra,” he said.