Around the world, Visa is driving financial inclusion and increasing financial literacy among the underserved through our products, services and network; strategic partnerships and educational programs. Visa also actively contributes to the global conversation about how to best address financial inclusion and meet the needs of the underserved. This week, Visa is joining leaders in the financial inclusion community for the World Economic Forum (WEF) on East Asia in Myanmar, IDB Base II Forum in Colombia, and the 8th Annual Underbanked Financial Services Forum in the United States to discuss the global imperative to reach full financial inclusion.
This week the 8th Annual Underbanked Financial Services Forum is taking place in Miami, FL, and Visa is participating in several activities related to financial inclusion efforts across the U.S. Lisa McFarland, Head of Consumer Prepaid Products, presented on a panel dedicated to prepaid technology aimed at bringing more access and inclusion to the underserved population. Visa also co-hosted a thought-leader roundtable with CFSI discussing how recent technology developments are enabling prepaid products to serve as an even more effective tool for financial inclusion.
Financial inclusion is broadly thought of as an emerging market issue. However, individuals and small businesses across the U.S. face some of the same barriers to accessing financial services and education, which is why Visa works with partners across the country, including governments, to help support the financially underserved.
Prepaid products can serve as an onramp to other financial services and offer the unbanked security, convenience and wide acceptance. Approximately 40 states use Visa Prepaid products to distribute child support, unemployment and other social benefits, often to citizens who are underbanked. For example, the state of Ohio transitioned to prepaid card disbursements to help reduce the 1.3 million checks they issued each year. Today, check volume is less than .5% of the 2.3 million monthly recipient payments made by the state, reducing check-cashing trips, fees and the risk of carrying large sums of cash, while allowing financially underserved consumers to gain faster access to benefit payments.
In conjunction with these programs, financial literacy has been an important focus for Visa for nearly two decades, and our programs have helped educate millions of children and adults. Our flagship Practical Money Skills for Life program includes a robust classroom curriculum and interactive resources for parents and consumers. Visa has also partnered with several businesses to launch a unique employer-based financial literacy program to help workers with money management, and each year, Visa partners with the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago to hold the Financial Literacy & Education Summit.
Kiva, a nonprofit organization working to alleviate poverty by connecting people through microlending, is another U.S.-based partnership for Visa. Kiva City, launched by Kiva and Visa at the Clinton Global Initiative America meeting in June 2011, expands the availability of microloans for small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs across the U.S. Earlier this year, President Bill Clinton helped kick off Kiva City Little Rock, the latest addition to the Kiva City initiative.
To explore more of Visa’s efforts to advance financial inclusion in the U.S. and across the globe, visit our new Financial Inclusion Interactive Map.
Posted by: Douglas Sabo, Visa Corporate Responsibility on June 7, 2013 at 3:57 pm