Card operator extends financial advice schemeMarch 2010
Mastercard is to expand its financial education programme for consumers to the whole of Latin America and the Caribbean, after successful schemes in Mexico and Brazil.
The banking and credit card company is experiencing yearly growth of 20 per cent in the region and says better financial management by consumers will benefit its business as well as society in general.
'Lots of people are now coming into the formal economy through Mastercard, so that poses a huge challenge and responsibility for us,' said Noel Lustig, Mastercard's manager of commercial development in Latin America. 'We need to make sure those who come into the system manage their finances in an efficient way, because we've got nothing to gain if they don't do so.'
Mastercard first offered personal financial education programmes to consumers and community groups in Mexico and then moved into Brazil in 2007. Since then it has expanded the service into Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic.
Much of the new, region-wide programme will be delivered through a 'Smart Consumer' website that provides online training on topics such as managing a budget and how to cope financially after losing a job.
The site, available in Spanish, Portuguese and English, features financial experts from different Latin American countries who will share their views on personal finances and provide regular tips. The company will also offer group and one-to-one sessions, plus advertising and media campaigns on financial education to reach those who do not have internet access.
Lustig said the business case for expansion of the initiative was clear, and that despite the common perception, it is not in Mastercard's interest to encourage people into large levels of debt. Mastercard, which had a 2009 turnover of $1.5billion (£960m, €1bn) only provides background technical services for cards provided by financial institutions and does not lend out or administer money itself.