Standing Up To Cancer With A Simple Swipe

Profits generally take top priority when companies design new products. Yet sometimes, solutions can make good business sense while also positively impacting society.

Fulfilling that dual role is the main objective behind the Stand Up To Cancer debit MasterCard: a new payments tool issued by Fifth Third Bank released in mid-June. A portion of the annual fee and every qualifying purchase made via the cards will support Stand Up To Cancer and cancer research. In addition, the cards can be used everywhere MasterCard debit cards are accepted. 

How did MasterCard and Fifth Third Bank become involved with Stand Up To Cancer, and what’s next on the horizon for the collaboration? Market Platform Dynamics CEO Karen Webster – herself a cancer survivor of 11 years – spoke to leaders from each organization to learn more.

According to Rusty Robertson, the co-founder of Stand Up To Cancer, the organization was born in 2007 thanks to a simple realization.

“We realized that federal funding for cancer research was on the decline,” Robertson said. “And yet, one person every minute was dying – 1,600 a day just in this country.”

Stand Up To Cancer sought to rekindle a sense of urgency around cancer funding through work with the entertainment industry and public and private sectors, which eventually led to a relationship with MasterCard in 2011.

“We were looking for some way to reach people with our message. When we were sitting with MasterCard, we realized that there are two things that are ubiquitous: everyone has been touched by cancer, and everyone has a credit card,” stated Robertson.

According to Robertson, MasterCard then took the initiative directly to Fifth Third Bank. Julie Joseforsky, senior vice president and head of bankcard at Fifth Third, said her company was instantly attracted to the idea.

“You don’t have very many times in the course of your career to be able to fulfill a business need while at the same time, being able to make an incredible impact on society, and on individual lives. 

Joseforsky also sited an “emotional connection” that the Stand Up To Cancer card created between Fifth Third and its users, and explained that the key to the affinity card program was its simplicity.

“This is an opportunity where we can create goodness and progress with something that we do everyday, without thinking about it: an unconscious thought of swiping your debit card to purchase,” she said.

“It is [the consumer’s] opportunity where they can take an everyday behavior and turn it into something that’s quite meaningful.”

Craig Vosburg, group executive of market development for MasterCard, agreed and went on to discuss the relevance of consumer brand connection.

Vosburg explained that consumers have the propensity to emotionally identify with products based on the brand. Brands have the power to trigger emotions, which help them to connect personally with a product. There are millions of people who have been touched by cancer, and Stand Up To Cancer represents more than an organization for funding: it is a movement in which people want to feel apart.

“The things that brands represent to consumers are important, whether that’s what a merchant represents to a consumer in the case of a co-brand, or with an affinity product like this one. This is a cause that is so close and so personal to so many people who have had firsthand experience, personally, through families, and through friends,” Vosburg explained.

“[We’re] at the convergence of being something really positive and really good society, that’s also, in our view, good business.”

To hear more of Webster, Robertson, Joseforsky and Vosburg on the Stand Up To Cancer initiative, as well as what’s on tap for the collaboration, listen to the full podcast below.


*If you have trouble with the audio player above, click here.



The PYMNTS Cross-Border Merchant Friction Index analyzes the key friction points experienced by consumers browsing, shopping and paying for purchases on international eCommerce sites. PYMNTS examined the checkout processes of 266 B2B and B2C eCommerce sites across 12 industries and operating from locations across Europe and the United States to provide a comprehensive overview of their checkout offerings.

Click to comment