Visa’s Blog – Visa Viewpoints


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 19, 2013

Electronic Payments Modernize the Face of Government Benefits

From eCommerce to eBanking, digital commerce is changing the way people around the world shop, pay and be paid.  The Electronic Payments Association explains that the average business saves between $2,000 and $7,000 annually by using electronic payments rather than paper checks. 

 The cost savings, enhanced security, broad convenience and universal acceptance of electronic payments have recently prompted the U.S. government to mandate the trend and extend the benefits of digital payments to Social Security payment recipients.  Beginning March 1, 2013, paper checks for Social Security benefits will virtually disappear.

This will affect five million Americans still receiving Social Security or Supplemental Security Income benefits by check, and save taxpayers more than $100 million a year.  The switch will enhance security, help decrease fraud and eliminate theft of paper checks from mailboxes by issuing funds directly to the recipient, electronically.

It’s clear that more than ever technology is shaping the way we live nearly every aspect of our lives.  Single function currency like cash and check comes with significant limitations, especially when consumers shop online, move between payment devices and need their payments to move seamlessly with them and work reliably wherever they shop.  Using credit, debit, and prepaid cards is the norm for many Americans and this is one more step in the march away from paper checks and cash.

For more information on the transition to electronic benefits, visit:


Posted by: Jennifer Schulz, Global Head of eCommerce on February 19, 2013 at 4:19 pm

Nov 15, 2012

The Economist Delves Into the “War of the Virtual Wallets”

Hailing the recent commercial availability of by Visa as “another milestone on the journey to digital cash” the Economist provides an overview of the major players and landscape in the digital wallet space in “War of the Virtual Wallets“, including perspective from Visa’s global head of eCommerce, Jennifer Schulz.

While noting that the competition in the virtual wallet space is white-hot, the article asserts that Visa is well-positioned as the battle intensifies.  Some Visa-specific statistics noted in the article to support this prediction include:

*More than 2.3 billion Visa cards in circulation

*Over $8 billion in total Visa credit, debit and prepaid transactions processed in 2011

*Significant technology investments and acquisitions in developed markets, including and Square

*Strategic investments in developing and emerging markets, including Monitise and Fundamo (a Visa company)

*Strong relationships with large member banks, including 50+ supporting

Please click here to read the entire article.


Posted by: Ryan Donovan, Corporate Relations on November 15, 2012 at 1:34 pm

Nov 14, 2012

NFL Fans: Show Your Support With New Team Visa Prepaid Cards!

We’re in the heat of the National Football League (NFL) season in the U.S. and Visa has created another opportunity for fans to get closer to the game and show that they bleed red – or blue, or purple – for their favorite team. As an NFL sponsor since 1995, Visa recognizes the love NFL fans have for their favorite team and is supporting that passion by offering select NFL team-branded, reloadable prepaid cards at more than 350 Walmart stores around the country.

Team Visa Prepaid Cards, issued by GE Capital Retail Bank and managed by Green Dot Corporation, sport the logos of eight Visa-sponsored NFL teams: the Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens, Buffalo Bills, Denver Broncos, Indianapolis Colts, Minnesota Vikings, San Diego Chargers and the San Francisco 49ers. The cards are exclusive to each team’s market and are available now at Walmart stores within 75 miles of the home stadium of each participating team.

Visa prepaid cards deliver the convenience and security of digital payments, while making it easier to budget money on a day to day basis. So whether fans want to stock up on food and drink for the gameday tailgate or buy a new flat screen television, Team Visa Prepaid Cards from Walmart allow cardholders to make a clear statement about their fandom with every purchase.

To learn more about Visa prepaid cards, please visit


Posted by: Hyung Choi, Visa Head of U.S. Prepaid Products on November 14, 2012 at 1:17 pm

Aug 2, 2012

Postcards From London: Visa Prepaid Cures Late Night Hunger

Visa London 2012 Olympic & Paralympic themed carsd

Tonight I found myself in the office craving a late night snack. After all, a chocolate honeycomb Crunchie counts as dinner, right?

And working at Visa, the vending machine (like increasingly more vending machines I encounter) takes contactless payments. While I had the option to pay with my mobile device, I decided to use the Visa Prepaid card we were given upon arrival in London. And what’s more fun than a Visa Prepaid card? One that features Wenlock, one of the two official mascots representing the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

In a matter of seconds, I avoided having to fish around for coins or find correct change and the 65p had been deducted from my Visa Prepaid card. Quick, easy and hunger-satisfying. Something tells me that this card is going to see more locations around London.


Posted by: Lucas Mast, Visa Corporate Relations on August 2, 2012 at 3:07 pm

Jan 5, 2012

Intuit Launches the GoPayment Prepaid Visa Card

We continue to see new ways prepaid can be a platform for innovation in payments.  A great example: Intuit’s recent launch of the GoPayment Prepaid Visa Card.   

Those who use Intuit’s GoPayment mobile acceptance app and reader can now link their GoPayment account to a Visa prepaid card, conveniently separating the funds collected through GoPayment from other finances. The card can then be used to make payments online or in-store, as well as to withdraw cash at ATMs anywhere Visa debit cards are accepted.

TechCrunch said the GoPayment Prepaid Visa Card “makes GoPayment especially friendly for fledgling entrepreneurs or businesses who want to accept payments but don’t have a business bank account.”

GoPayment users can choose where they’d like to accept payments, whether to an existing business or personal account, or to the GoPayment Prepaid Visa Card.

Products like this show how the flexibility of the Visa prepaid platform allows our prepaid partners to create tailored products to meet the evolving payments landscape.


Posted by: Erika White, Visa Corporate Relations on January 5, 2012 at 1:56 pm

Dec 7, 2011

Creating Opportunities for Mexico’s Underserved

If seeing is believing, then my recent trip to Mexico re-opened my eyes to the real benefits of digital currency, particularly in the lives of low-income families around the world. During a whirlwind four-day trip, we captured the experience of Angélica Cruz Romero, who receives her government benefits on the Oportunidades Visa card, as part of the Currency of Progress video series.

Angélica lives in a modest home on the outskirts of San Juan del Rio, a city of 120,000 people in the state of Querétaro. She is one of millions of formerly unbanked or under-banked Mexican consumers who receives social benefits on a prepaid debit card that keeps her money safe and can be used anywhere Visa is accepted.

As part of the visit, we also interviewed Bernardo González, general associate director of Bansefi, the government-owned issuer of the Visa card. In the coming months, Bansefi aims to include all 6.5 million beneficiaries in the Visa debit card program as part of its long-term goal to reduce poverty by bringing more Mexicans into the formal financial system.  “This is absolute[ly] the door to financial inclusion,” he said.

For Angélica, receiving funds electronically gives her peace-of-mind, flexibility and the promise of a better life for her family. I’m very optimistic because I’m taking my children on the right path,” she said. “And this program has helped me a lot because I am heading in the right direction where I wasn’t before.”


Posted by: Richard Martin, Visa Corporate Relations on December 7, 2011 at 3:58 pm

Nov 18, 2011

New Technology to Improve Humanitarian Aid in Emergencies

This week, leading humanitarian organizations are gathering in Nairobi, Kenya, for “Cash Transfer Programming in Emergencies,” the fifth global learning event organized by the Cash Learning Partnership (CaLP).

This event brings together humanitarian professionals to share experiences and best practices in delivering cash in emergencies, with a particular focus on the role that new technologies—including digital currency—can play in improving the delivery of money. Technologies like prepaid cards to deliver money to flood victims in Pakistan; money delivered by mobile phone in Haiti for earthquake survivors to pay for recovery work; and codes delivered by mobile phone to use for purchasing food in the Philippines.

Building upon our existing partnership with the CaLP, Visa participated in today’s event to share our experiences and insights in electronifying the distribution of money, both in times of emergency and through non-emergency social development programs, including:

  • In the Dominican Republic, Visa has helped the government’s Social Subsidies Administration electronify the distribution of money through the Solidaridad Visa card, allowing more than 800,000 people to receive critical benefits like unemployment, nutrition assistance, and help for the elderly.
  • In 2010 after catastrophic flooding impacted 20 million people, Visa and our partner financial institutions helped the government of Pakistan deliver emergency cash aid via the Watan Visa prepaid debit card, reaching more than 2 million families and ensuring that flood victims received financial help quickly and securely

As Visa shared today in Nairobi, there are a number of challenges and opportunities to address, including:

  • Infrastructure: advancing the digital currency infrastructure needed to enable electronic delivery of cash ahead of when emergencies occur rather than deploying it during a crisis situation
  • Collaboration: enhancing the collaboration between the global development and humanitarian communities to advance the mutually-beneficial objectives of financial inclusion and enhanced humanitarian support, as well as incorporating a role for the private sector who can help these responses scale and be sustainable
  • Education: ensuring that the beneficiaries of these programs, often unfamiliar with digital currency, receive their benefits along with the education required to understand and use them

As the humanitarian community increases its use of programs that deliver cash in place of physical goods, we are committed to helping this community bring the distribution of aid payments into the 21st century. Because at the end of the day, it is about working together to help those impacted restore their lives.


Posted by: Douglas Sabo, Visa Corporate Responsibility on November 18, 2011 at 9:19 am

Nov 14, 2011

Paper or Plastic? State Governments Choose Plastic

As the year comes to a close, so too does the era of paper unemployment checks in the District of Columbia.  The DC Department of Employment Services recently announced that all new recipients of unemployment insurance benefits will share in the advantages that come with receiving automatic payments through either Visa prepaid debit cards or direct deposit. 

 According to the DC Department of Employee Services, claimants who select Visa prepaid debit cards will be able to:

  • Access fee-free funds at in-network ATMs
  • Make fee-free purchases everywhere Visa debit cards are accepted
  • Pay bills using their prepaid debit card
  • Access fee-free cash at Visa member banks
  • Access fee-free cash at participating retailers
  • Manage their account online 24/7
  • Access their account via toll-free interactive voice response systems 24/7

Government agencies using Visa Prepaid cards instead of checks for disbursements can lower costs and increase operational efficiencies while providing consumers with more convenient and secure access to funds.  Approximately 39 states are using or are in the process of implementing Visa prepaid card programs to disburse child support, unemployment, TANF and other benefits through more than 80 programs. 

In fact, today, approximately 30 of 38 state unemployment insurance card programs and 32 of 49 state child support programs are delivered by Visa1

Visa programs are helping states including California, Maine, South Carolina, Connecticut, New Jersey and Ohio save millions of dollars in administrative costs associated with paper based programs – including lost or stolen check replacements, bank processing and handling fees, check fraud and check printing costs – while providing greater reliability for the delivery of benefits.

Visa prepaid cards offer a secure, convenient and cost-effective alternative to checks and cash, providing consumers a better way to make everyday purchases, pay bills, and receive deposits.  Visa prepaid cards can be especially valuable for those consumers without checking accounts or traditional banking relationships, helping these consumers move from an inconvenient, unsafe, and potentially costly cash-and-carry lifestyle to more convenient and secure access to funds.

 By receiving benefits on a Visa prepaid card, benefit recipients can enjoy:

  • Money Management and Control Prepaid cards offer consumers greater access to and control over their finances than checks or cash, by enabling cardholders to only spend funds loaded on the card.  Cardholders can track their spending online for improved budgeting.
  • Convenience – Cardholders enjoy immediate access to their funds through direct deposit and can eliminate check-cashing fees.  Disbursement recipients can use their Visa prepaid cards to easily make purchases anywhere Visa debit cards are accepted – in-store, online, or by phone – from paying bills, to making travel reservations, and buying gas at the pump. 
  • Security – Like all Visa products, Visa prepaid cards are protected by Visa’s Zero Liability policy2, which means consumers pay nothing for unauthorized purchases made with their card. 

 Visa works with governments all over the world to help get benefits to people faster and with less disruption while helping save taxpayer money by eliminating the costs associated with checks.

1Data reflects public information available through individual state agency websites.

2Visa’s Zero Liability policy covers U.S.–issued cards only and does not apply to ATM transactions, PIN transactions not processed by Visa, or certain commercial card transactions. Cardholder must notify issuer promptly of any unauthorized use. Consult issuer for additional details or click here.


Posted by: Hyung Choi, Visa Head of U.S. Prepaid Products on November 14, 2011 at 2:37 pm