Posts tagged with "MasterCard"

Southern comfort: Biden Administration taps private sector to invest in Central America

May 28, 2021

On May 27, Vice President Kamala Harris was scheduled to unveil the agreements of 12 companies and organizations–among them, MasterCard and Microsoft—to invest in Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador as part of the Administration’s efforts to deal with a surge of migrants from Central America at the U.S. southern border, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The Administration believes that aid to Central America will bolster economies south of the border—and that better conditions in that area will discourage surges in immigration to the USA.

Among the companies involved:

  • Microsoft  has agreed to expand Internet access to as many as three million people in the region by July 2022, as well as to establish community centers to provide digital skills to women and youths;
  • Mastercard will seek to bring five million people in the region who currently lack banking services into the financial system, and to give one million micro and small businesses access to electronic banking.
  • Chobani has agreed to bring its incubator program for local entrepreneurs to Guatemala; and
  • Nespresso, a unit of Nestlé SA, plans to begin buying some of its coffee from El Salvador and Honduras with a minimum regional investment of $150 million by 2025.

Democratic and Republican administrations have struggled to find long-term solutions to handling surges in migrants from Central America, many of whom say they are driven by poverty and violence in their home countries. The region was hit hard last year by two disastrous hurricanes.

According to the Journal, Biden Administration officials have said the aim in part is for greater private-sector involvement to outlast shifts in policy and government aid between administrations— reducing over time the motivations for migrants to make the often dangerous journey to the U.S. border.

The total number of illegal border crossings this year is on pace to hit a two-decade high; and a record number of unaccompanied minors crossed the border illegally in March, followed by a slight decline in April.

President Joe. Biden has delegated to Vice President Harris diplomatic efforts with Mexico and the three countries known as the Northern Triangle: El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. She is scheduled to make her first foreign trip to Mexico and Guatemala next month.

Republicans have criticized Harris over the Administration’s overall handling of immigration and have chided her for not yet visiting the border. White House officials have said her role is limited to diplomatic efforts, with departments such as Homeland Security and Health and Human Services in charge of dealing with migrants crossing into the United States.

While leading a recent GOP delegation to visit the border, Representative James Comer (R-Kentucky) said more government investments in the region wouldn’t deter migrants from making the journey to the U.S. “We’ve been giving foreign aid to a lot of those countries for decades, and it’s only gotten worse,” he said.

However, Harris has said that private-sector investment along with help from nonprofits and the United Nations could speed up progress in the Northern Triangle. “We must think beyond government,” she said in a speech earlier this month to the Council of the Americas, a business group that focuses on economic and social development in the Western Hemisphere.

She was expected to call on other companies and organizations on Thursday to invest in public health access, food security, financial inclusion, clean energy, education, and workforce development in the region, working through the State Department.

Research contact: @WSJ

Piggy banks are going ‘extinct, ‘ as kids start using mobile apps for pocket money

January 28, 2020

Those porcelain painted pigs that children have used for hundreds of years to store and accumulate spare change are going the way of the wooly mammoth—and it has nothing to do with climate change.

As the world moves toward a cashless society, pocket money is going digital, CNN reports. To reflect this trend, a flurry of mobile budgeting apps for children has sprung up worldwide: GoHenry, Osper, and Gimi—to name just a few.

GoHenry, for example, is a debit card and app with unique parental controls that is designed to teach young people (ages 6-19) money management skills. Launched in 2012 in collaboration with Mastercard, the GoHenry app and card now boast a community of over 500,000 members in the United States and United Kingdom.

The app is free the first month; then $3.99 per month going forward. To activate it, parents put money in their own accounts; then, transfer it to their children’s cards.

While, thus far, GoHenry has the biggest chunk of the U.S. market, the other apps are fast gaining popularity, as well.

Not yet in the USA—but already boasting 8 million customers in Europe—London-based Revolut, founded in 2015, claims to have a 10,000-person waitlist in on this side of the pond for its services. Currently targeted at adults, Revolut offers a prepaid debit card, fee-free currency exchange, commission-free stock trading, cryptocurrency exchange and peer-to-peer payments.

And, CNN reports, Revolut is set to join the pocket money market with its upcoming launch of Revolut Youth for seven- to 18-year-olds. Parents who are already Revolut customers will be able to add their children to their account as secondary users, each with their own personal debit card. Parents can monitor the child’s account through their existing app, while kids can download their own child-friendly version. Initial testing has begun, with the dedicated app for kids expected to become available in the United Kingdom in the first quarter of 2020.

The companies behind the apps argue that in an increasingly cashless society, they can offer a valuable way of teaching young children about money.

Two-thirds of adults globally are financially illiterate, according to Standard & Poor’s Global Financial Literacy Survey, and one in four teenagers is unable to make even simple decisions on everyday spending.

Indeed, the growth of digital banking has affected how parents doll out pocket money, with one in three parents in the United Kingdom doing it digitally, according to a recent report by the financial comparison website Money.co.uk.

As a whole, kids aged 13-19, are estimated to contribute £1.7 billion ($2.2 billion) into the UK economy each year, according to the Teenage Finance Report from financial services providers OneFamily.

“There’s a big opportunity,” Aurélien Guichard, the product owner for Revolut Youth, told CNN Business.

Research contact: @CNN

Payment card chips fail to halt fraud, study finds

November 9, 2018

Of the more than 60 million payment cards that have been compromised or stolen within the past 12 months, chip-enabled cards represented a staggering 93%, according to results of a study released  recently by Gemini Advisory.

In 2015, the global financial industry began a massive migration to the EMV (Europay, MasterCard, Visa) standard in response to overwhelming levels of payment card fraud. The chip-enabled cards were supposed to provide end-to-end encryption during card-present transactions; and to prevent payment card counterfeiting.

However, the New York-based cyber consulting firm says—although most card issuers have adopted the standard—retailers and other merchants have failed to comply with the EMV implementation. 

Indeed, key findings of the study are alarming—among them:

With most large U.S. merchants fully transitioned to EMV, Gemini say that gas pump terminals and small/medium size businesses have become the victims of opportunity. Smaller businesses are only now beginning to understand the importance of EMV programs, as well as to provide a sufficient budget allocation toward them.

Because Gemini Advisory believes that criminal groups will always sway to the path of least resistance, the firm predicts that financially motivated threat groups such as Fin6  and Fin7 are likely to turn their resources toward small- to medium-size businesses with  between 10 to 50 locations.

The bottom line: Until EMV implementation is more widespread among U.S. merchants, Gemini Advisory recommends the usage of mobile payment systems such as Android Pay, Google Pay, and Apple Pay. Such payment systems are not susceptible to shimming devices or POS malware—making them the most secure payment method currently available.

Research contact: @geminiadvisory