US payment technology company Mastercard recently announced plans to boost financial inclusion in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras through the development of digital financial services that bring “5 million people from northern Central America to the financial system and digitize 1 million micro and small businesses,” with a focus on women-owned businesses. Financial services include inbound and outbound digital payments as well as loans to help customers build credit histories and create jobs. These efforts support the Call to Action for North Central America, an initiative launched by the US government in 2021 to create economic opportunity in the region, with the goal of reducing emigration.
Mastercard’s plan is based on a partnership with local financial service providers, the first two of which are BAC Credomatic, a Costa Rica-based bank serving micro and small enterprises (MSEs) and individuals throughout Central America, and Fundacion Genesis, a nonprofit organization focused on “economic and social development” in Guatemala. Accion, a US-based nonprofit organization that uses technology to increase financial inclusion, is also working with Genesis to achieve similar goals as part of the call to action. Accion recently expanded its goal of providing access to digital finance to 100,000 people in Guatemala to serve an additional 1 million farmers and small businesses in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.
The government-backed U.S. International Development Finance Corporation and the U.S. Agency for International Development have also agreed to provide unspecified support to the efforts.
Founded in 1952, BAC Credomatic provides financial services such as loans, credit cards, insurance and savings to individuals and businesses of all sizes across Central America. In 2021, it held assets valued at $28 billion.
Genesis offers loans for small business and household needs, as well as “business development and financial literacy training, women’s empowerment training, and health education.” The microlender has 151 branches, 4,000 rural service points and a portfolio of USD 248 million in 2021.
Founded in 1961, Accion is a nonprofit organization that seeks to alleviate poverty by providing services such as microenterprise loans and business training. The organization has 110 partner microfinance institutions providing financial services to entrepreneurs in 50 countries in Africa, the Americas and Asia. In 2020, Accion reports total assets of USD 439 million. Accion’s investment subsidiaries include Accion Venture Lab, Accion Global Investments and Accion Frontier Investments. Accion also conducts research through the Center for Financial Inclusion.
Based in the US state of New York, Mastercard connects consumers, financial institutions, merchants and governments in approximately 210 countries and territories. For the quarter ending March 2022, the company reported net revenue of $5.2 billion.
By Ben Greissman, Research Associate
Sources and additional resources
MasterCard press release
White House Call to Action Fact Sheet
Press release from Accion
Description of the BAC Credomatic
Genesis Foundation Home Page
Accion sticker on Genesis
Accion home page
Mastercard financial reports
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