Visa’s Blog – Visa Viewpoints


Jun 10, 2013

Financial Literacy

Advancing Financial Inclusion on the Global Stage: IDB Base II Forum

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. Last week, Visa joined leaders in the financial inclusion community in Myanmar, Colombia and the United States to discuss the global imperative to reach full financial inclusion and collaborate with others to identify solutions.

Last week, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) hosted its second international conference on business at the base of the pyramid, the Base II Forum, in Medellin, Colombia. The forum brought together over 1,000 leading experts who work to create innovative business models that connect private sector resources and the untapped potential at the base of the socioeconomic pyramid.

Visa’s Head of Product, LAC, José María Ayuso participated throughout the forum to discuss how Visa is contributing to address the base of the pyramid segment needs through services and solutions. Ayuso contributed to a panel discussion titled “The Great Corporate Leap to Markets of the Base of the Pyramid: Strategy or Coincidence?” As the leader of Visa’s LAC region, Ayuso was able to share the ways in which the company has worked within the region to address the financially underserved.

“Financial Inclusion is in our DNA,” said José María Ayuso during his presentation. “For many years Visa has been working with the Base of the Pyramid, helping micro entrepreneurs build their businesses. However, to be able to reach scale and critical mass, private and government sectors need to work hand in hand. There are many fronts that need to be addressed in a collaborative manner.  A couple of them are the high level of informality that still exists and effective regulation that provides real support to this segment.”  

According to a study commissioned by Visa and conducted by the Latin American publication América Economía, in Colombia in 2012,  SMEs card penetration is 13%, while in the region is 38%.

At Visa, we are proud to know that our products, services and global network are helping provide women and other financially underserved populations with access to the financial tools they need to lead safer, more convenient and dignified lives.

To explore more of Visa’s efforts to advance financial inclusion across the globe, visit our new Financial Inclusion Interactive Map.


Posted by: Evelyn Zapata, Corporate Relations, LAC on June 10, 2013 at 2:48 pm

Jun 7, 2013

Advancing Financial Inclusion on the Global Stage: CFSI Underbanked Financial Services Forum

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

Jun 6, 2013

Postcards from the Underbanked Financial Services Forum

As both a sponsor and participant at the Center for Financial Services Innovation (@CFSInnovation) “Unbanked Financial Services Forum,” Visa was among the thought leaders from the public and private sector that gathered this week in Miami to address the challenges and opportunities related to financial inclusion in the United States.

According to recent FDIC statistics, while 72% of the United States population is “banked,” more than 34 million Americans are labeled as being “unbanked” or “underbanked.”  Many of the panels at the forum focused on debunking myths and stereotypes and providing awareness and financial literacy to a population that spent $78 billion on high-cost “alternative” financial services like payday loans in 2011.

Visa’s Head of Consumer Prepaid Products, Lisa McFarland, participated on the panel “Mobile Remote Deposit Capture: The Present and the Future” alongside executives from Ingo (formerly Chexar) and Banking Up to take a focused look at how mobile remote deposit capture (mRDC) can be a potential game changer in meeting the needs of the underserved.  “Consumers are motivated by access, and with mRDC we can address a critical pain point for consumers—convenient, cost-effective and instant access to funds,” shared Visa’s McFarland.

In her keynote address, CFSI President and CEO Jennifer Tescher (@JenTescher) drew an interesting parallel between changes in the health care industry to similar shifts in the financial services industry. In recent years, she noted that doctors and others in the medical industry have moved from treating sickness to a focus on promoting wellness. According to Tescher, as Americans plan for an uncertain future by managing their money and spending well, consumer financial “health” should be a priority for financial services-oriented businesses.

Visa wrapped up our participation at the Forum by co-hosting with CFSI a thought-leader roundtable moderated by Professor Michael Collins, Faculty Director of the Center for Financial Security at the University of Wisconsin, Madison and a member of the Advisory Board for the U.S. Financial Diaries project. The discussion focused on how recent technology developments may help further elevate prepaid products into the financial mainstream while also serving as an effective tool for underbanked consumers.


Posted by: Lucas Mast, Visa Corporate Relations on June 6, 2013 at 5:08 pm

Feb 6, 2013

Savvy Superheroes: Which One Are You?

Savvy Superheroes Infographic


Posted by: Jag Mistry, Corporate Relations, Visa Inc. on February 6, 2013 at 2:59 pm

Feb 1, 2013

Quarterbacks Team Up To Tackle The Issue of Financial Literacy

If you are like me, you’ve spent the better part of the week preparing for the big game this Sunday.  Whether you are from Baltimore, San Francisco or somewhere in between, Americans love the Super Bowl (even if they just watch for the commercials).  The week leading up to Super Bowl Sunday provides the perfect backdrop to tackle the issue of financial literacy among teens.

We were lucky enough to have Seattle Seahawks Quarterback Russell Wilson and New Orleans Saints Quarterback Drew Brees talk to students from McMain High School and McDonogh No. 35 High School, both in New Orleans, about Visa’s Financial Football program and the importance of money management

Louisiana Treasurer John Neely Kennedy kicked off the event at Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans with help from Brees, Wilson and Visa officials. Brees and Wilson shared personal experiences and their thoughts on the importance of money management with students


Posted by: Jason Alderman, Visa Corporate Relations on February 1, 2013 at 3:07 pm

Dec 17, 2012

Global Financial Literacy Goals Met Early

At the recent Citi FT Financial Education Summit in Manila, Visa announced that the company was one full year ahead of schedule in achieving its goal of bringing financial literacy to 20M people in developing economies. In its ninth year, the Summit attracted 300 delegates from non-profits to NGOs to global financial institutions.  Attendees were able to compare best practices for building financial literacy programs and network with colleagues from throughout the region.

We had a chat at the conference with Hope Ewing, head of Visa’s financial literacy program in the Asia Pacific region, Eastern Europe, Africa and the Middle East.  When we met up with her, she re-emphasized points from her summit presentation entitled “Exploring the Challenge of Financial Education Across Emerging Economies.”  Her speech underscored the points that:

  • The health of local economies depends to a large degree on financial education.
  • Financial literacy programs and measurement tools must be customized to reflect the habits, customs and value systems of particular countries.
  • There is no single problem, which means there is no one single solution.

What are some other challenges you see in addressing Financial Education within your local market?



Posted by: Jason Alderman, Visa Corporate Relations on December 17, 2012 at 9:17 am

Dec 6, 2012

Exploring the challenge of financial education across emerging economies

The volatile economic environment and its impact on the most vulnerable communities have underlined the increasingly important role of financial literacy as key skill that can help assure personal financial security, wealth-building, and financial inclusion for those still outside the banking system. Financial education can be the difference between surviving and thriving.

But what is the best way to provide this form of education, taking into consideration the different cultural and market development needs? Which channels are most productive and what policies should regulators put in place to support financial literacy initiatives? What types of partnerships are needed between the public sector, private financial institutions, academia and civil society to ensure that financial education programmes achieve their desired outcome? How are programmes customised for different financial levels, age groups, life cycles and specific financial challenges?

Through a series of lunch forums, Visa and the Financial Times have gathered policy-makers, educators, financial service providers and other experts and thought leaders to discuss how to optimise the provision of financial education in different emerging economies – the basic foundations that have to be in place, and the regional characteristics that need to be addressed, both in terms of programme development and the channels used to maximise reach and impact.

The series will culminate this week in the Philippines at the ninth Citi-FT Financial Education Summit, the most established annual international conference on financial capability, co-sponsored by Visa.


Posted by: Jason Alderman, Visa Corporate Relations on December 6, 2012 at 5:15 pm

Nov 13, 2012

Rwanda, Inc.: Developing a model for economic growth

As you know, last December, Visa and the Government of Rwanda announced a groundbreaking partnership to ‘electronify’ the Rwandan economy.  The partnership aims to connect 11 million Rwandans to the formal financial sector.  To do this, we have been focused on key areas including: developing the basic infrastructure needed to enable country-wide use of electronic payments, promoting electronic payments innovation by taking advantage of rapidly developing technologies like mobile payments, and building capacity and infrastructure through financial literacy and job training programs.

It is the clear vision and strategy for growth in Rwanda that Andrea Redmond and Patricia Crisafulli chronicle in their new book, Rwanda, Inc., which launched today.  We are proud to be in the company of such qualified individuals who also see Rwanda as the “ultimate turnaround” story.  The book describes how, in two decades, Rwanda went from complete devastation after the genocide 18 years ago to impressive economic development and GDP growth that has lifted one million people out of poverty in the past five years alone.  Through direct access to the Rwandan government, the authors take the reader through Rwanda’s complicated past, from civil war and genocide to the promising present.

Like Andrea, we believe in the opportunity that exists in the region, and have focused our financial inclusion strategy to target a very important customer base, both for Visa and the Rwandan government, to help build a model for other appropriate economies. Enabling individuals opportunities to better manage their financial lives is a significant step towards advancing economic expansion.

We are honored to support Andrea in the launch of her insightful book, and believe in its message. Rwanda is open for business, and we are proud to be there.

NOTE: Andrea Redmond is a consultant who works with corporate boards, CEOs, Fortune 500 companies, and private investors.  She sits on several boards of directors, including The Allstate Corporation, Children’s Memorial Hospital, Northwestern University Hospital, and the Robert H. Lurie Cancer Center.


Posted by: Doug Michelman, Global Head, Corporate Relations, Visa Inc. on November 13, 2012 at 3:11 pm

Oct 19, 2012

Steeler Mike Wallace, State Treasurer Rob McCord Help Tackle Financial Literacy

A lucky group of Pittsburgh area students from Allderdice High School got the chance to meet local luminaries from sports and politics–and get a head start on learning money management skills that will stick with them for life.

As part of Visa’s “Financial Football” program, Pittsburgh Steeler wide receiver Mike Wallace and Pennsylvania State Treasurer Rob McCord dropped by to share their personal experiences on the importance of money management with students.

The centerpiece of Visa’s nationwide educational initiative with the NFL and NFL PLAYERS, Financial Football helps students and adults tackle their financial futures. This free game is accompanied by a classroom curriculum and is available to every public middle and high school in the state of Pennsylvania.

So we know who the students in Pittsburgh will be rooting for this weekend.  Who is YOUR favorite football team?  Tell us who you will be rooting for in the comments!

Pittsburgh Steeler Mike Wallace on the importance of money management:


Pennsylvania State Treasurer Rob McCord on the value of teaching kids financial literacy:




Posted by: Jason Alderman, Visa Corporate Relations on October 19, 2012 at 2:08 pm

Sep 6, 2012

A Political Football

Proving that even politics can occasionally be fun, Visa teamed up this week with North Carolina Senator Kay Hagan, State Treasure Janet Cowell and Business Forward to host a demonstration of Financial Football at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte.

With the help of Washington Redskin linebacker London Fletcher, local students and Convention delegates heard about the importance of promoting financial literacy and then got down to business, playing a spirited game of Financial Football.

A few kind-hearted souls asked me something to the effect of: “Why wade into the circus-like environment of a political convention to talk about financial literacy?”

The answer is straight-forward: We strongly believe that a component to a vibrant and growing economy is a well-informed, financially literate population. The government leaders gathered at the party conventions are, by virtue of the offices they hold, ideally positioned to advance the issue of financial literacy and help ensure that all teenagers leave high school with a foundational understanding of money management.

We tried to bring Financial Football to the Republican Convention last week in Tampa, but Hurricane Isaac interfered, causing us to postpone. We’re looking at rescheduling with Governor Rick Scott later this fall.

For the uninitiated, Financial Football is our educational video game that helps players learn about personal finance. Instead of using thumbs to advance your team down the field, you answer personal finance questions. Give it a try


Posted by: Jason Alderman, Visa Corporate Relations on September 6, 2012 at 3:32 pm