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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

MasterCard: Progression key to financial inclusion

A MasterCard Worldwide report suggests that financial inclusion initiatives worldwide would be more effective if payment products followed a path of progression, from offering basic services to more advanced options over time. The card brand believes the most basic functionality for financial products should begin with bill payment, then move to more complex services, such as credit issuance, savings accounts and insurance plans.

The report, entitled A New Perspective on Bill Payment—A Demand-Based Path to Financial Inclusion, said, "Bill payment is one of the most foundational/basic financial needs because it generally represents the essential living expenses of consumers, payments that every household has to make to survive."

To illustrate the hierarchy of payment functionality, MasterCard executives and report authors Amit Jain and Gidget Hall offered the fictional character of Ram Das, a 45-year-old food vendor in urban India. "Like the majority of people in India, [Das] currently pays his bills with cash at the biller offices," the authors said. From this baseline, the financial inclusion strategy begins:

    1. Ram Das is offered a general purpose reloadable prepaid card from the State Bank of India. 2. He starts to pay bills with the card. 3. He starts to make grocery purchases with the card. 4. Based on his transaction history, the bank assesses his creditworthiness and issues him a loan. 5. He uses the loan to buy a food van and expand his business. 6. The increased income from his growing business allows Ram Das to open an investment/savings account. 7. As he is better able to provide for his family, Ram Das can now afford to buy life insurance.

MasterCard released the report in advance of the United Nations General Assembly meeting and the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting, both being held in New York City the week of Sept. 23 to 29, 2012. MasterCard will also host the Global Financial Inclusion Day on Nov. 1, 2012, in New York. end of article

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