Master Your Card African American Advisory Board To Educate Consumers On Benefits Of Electronic Payment Technology

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Millions of Americans use electronic payment technology, like credit and debit cards, to complete their day-to-day financial transactions safely and efficiently. But unfortunately, there is another segment of the population that relies heavily, or even exclusively, on cash – and they are often those who can least afford it.

According to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation’s 2013 National Survey of Unbanked and Underbanked Households, more than 53 percent of African American households in the New York City area are financially underserved.

These unbanked and underbanked families have no or little access to traditional banking services and as a result, rely on costly alternatives like check cashers, money orders and payday lenders. The United States Postal Service’s Office of the Inspector General found that on average, these financially underserved households spend nearly 10 percent of their income on fees and interest for these services.

Fortunately, outreach, education and technology can go a long way toward helping financially underserved African American families overcome this challenge. That’s why Master Your Card, a community empowerment program sponsored by MasterCard, recently launched an African American advisory board. Comprised of current and former political, labor, academic, business and civic leaders from across the United States, this board will provide input to help MasterCard better understand the needs of financially underserved communities and small businesses. They will also assist in the development of strategies, education and technology solutions to meet those needs.

The launch of the African American advisory board builds on Master Your Card’s work with groups like the A. Philip Randolph Institute, the National Urban League, the Congressional Black Caucus and the Minority Business RoundTable. With these organizations, the program has worked with consumers to help them understand how they can take advantage of electronic payment technology to save time and money, and with business owners on how they can use it to grow their businesses.

Through its work, the advisory board will help African Americans increase their economic opportunity through the effective use of electronic payment technologies like prepaid and payroll cards. These tools can help financially underserved families participate in today’s digital economy and save the money they would otherwise spend on alternative financial services. For instance, a growing number of employers are paying their employees with prepaid payroll cards instead of paper checks. This allows employees without bank accounts to pay bills and make purchases online, and avoid expensive check-cashing services.

Dependence on cash comes with a high cost for many low-income African Americans, but electronic payment technology can make a real difference. With the right tools and information, these families can achieve greater financial control and security, and a brighter economic future.



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