Students from the MSc in International Management/CEMS at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) visited MasterCard’s regional headquarters in Waterloo, Belgium on 12 June. They were challenged to come up with an innovative payment solution that will benefit MasterCard as well as its customers.

The 35 CEMS students from RSM were divided into nine teams of three or four students each to find marketing solutions for MasterCard during the case project, which is part of their course in Global Marketing: Developing and Marketing New Products, taught by Dr Gui Liberali. MasterCard is a corporate partner of the CEMS Global Alliance network. The organisation gained new ideas and fresh perspectives from the students, and had a chance to present their brand as a potential employer.

Forced to think creatively, yet realistically, the student teams tackled the real-life case for MasterCard, and presented their solutions at the credit company’s regional headquarters in Waterloo, Belgium. They elaborated on the network effects, the company’s partners, and how MasterCard can make a profit by applying their ideas.

Researching company data

For CEMS student Ido Segev, the biggest challenge of the case was finding this a great idea that has not yet been done before. “As we dived into the company's data, we realised more and more how many things have been already invented and implemented by the company,” he said. “The research part was definitely the main challenge of the case.”

Segev added that he mostly enjoyed the case presentations session of his fellow CEMS students. “You could see bright people pitching their vision for MasterCard in 2020,” he said, adding that they all presented with enormous passion and confidence, and answered the jury's questions sharply. “Their great ideas and approach have inspired me once again, and gave me the feeling that I'm sitting next to the leaders of the future.”

New business models

Dr Gui Liberali from RSM’s Department of Marketing Management says he chose MasterCard because it is at the centre of a major industry that is rapidly changing as new forms of payments such as Bitcoin require new business models. “MasterCard is asking the right questions at the right time,” said Dr Liberali, adding that he’s impressed with the CEMS students’ dedication throughout the course. “They put a lot of creative effort to explore new ideas and possibilities for MasterCard, including new products, new markets and new approaches. Their reports included this creative output with hard numbers based on analytical models to minimise the uncertainty in their plans to roll out their innovations, said the associate professor of marketing.

Innovative payment methods

“I learned that the sky is the limit, because the things we would not have thought of possible some time ago are becoming reality in the nearby future,” said CEMS student Sterre Swen, who was particularly impressed with MasterCard’s innovation lab for payment solutions. She added that she had not realised before how quickly the payment industry is evolving and what an innovative company MasterCard actually is. “The biggest challenge was to come up with a solution that MasterCard was not already working on,” said Swen, adding that her team kept finding press releases about their concept during the project.

The winning group consisted of CEMS students Jan Kever, Malte Jess, Fanny Emma Holgersson, and Jasmine Ezz. They proposed to MasterCard to develop an app in which all cards of transportation systems around the world can be uploaded and stored. They won VIP tickets to a music festival of MasterCard’s sponsoring partner SFX. The winners are also invited to participate in the MasterCard’s graduate programme recruitment process, giving them a chance to work in a global environment while participating in a comprehensive learning and development programme designed to help students establish their career.

CEMS is a global alliance of academic and corporate institutions dedicated to educating and preparing future generations of global business leaders to enter into a multilingual, multicultural and interconnected business world through the CEMS Master’s in International Management.

More information

Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) is one of Europe’s top-ranked business schools. RSM provides ground-breaking research and education furthering excellence in all aspects of management and is based in the international port city of Rotterdam – a vital nexus of business, logistics and trade. RSM’s primary focus is on developing business leaders with international careers who can become a force for positive change by carrying their innovative mindset into a sustainable future. Our first-class range of bachelor, master, MBA, PhD and executive programmes encourage them to become critical, creative, caring and collaborative thinkers and doers.

For more information about RSM or this release, please contact Erika Harriford-McLaren, communications manager for RSM, on +31 10 408 2877 or by email at

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