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Master Card reaches out to Credit Unions
August 29, 2019

More Jamaicans could soon become holders of Mastercard debit cards in the near future, as Jamaican credit unions are expected to start offering the product in a deal between the Jamaica Co-op Credit Union League (JCCUL) and the international company by early 2020.

Some 15 to 20 credit unions within the JCCUL will be able to issue cards through the league in about six to eight months, according to Marcus Carmo, Mastercard's director of communication, who was speaking to the Caribbean Business Report on Monday at the World Credit Union Conference that took place in Nassau, Bahamas.

 

Credit union members should have the new cards by “early 2020”, Carmo said, adding that the company and league are currently in the process of finalising documentation, including addressing anti-money laundering rules.

 

Chief executive officer of the JCCUL Robin Levy, preferred not to speak on the deal, however, he noted that an official signing had not yet taken place. Only debit and not credit is being considered at this time.

 

The deal is the first for Mastercard within the Caricom group of nations, though it is currently in similar deals with Cooperativa Policía Nacional, a credit union for the police force in Ecuador, and in Puerto Rico with a credit union association with some 70 credit unions, according to Rodrigo de Paula, Mastercard vice-president of sales for Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) region.

 

Mastercard is also looking to create similar partnerships with credit union organisations in the Dominican Republic and Trinidad, he said.

 

Meanwhile, Mastercard will soon be announcing its new representative for its office in Jamaica. The company has been deepening its presence in countries across the region and has already selected a Jamaican to head the office, which is expected to be situated in New Kingston.

 
 

The announcement of the new team should happen in the next two months.

The strategy to work with credit unions and credit union leagues as acquirers represents a change for the multinational organisation, which has previously focussed on large banks and merchants, and a shift towards smaller players, including credit unions.

 

In fact, Mastercard is promoting its strategy to reach credit unions not just in Latin America and the Caribbean but across the world by targetting the World Credit Union Conference.

 

It represents the first time that the company has participated in the annual conference.

 

On Monday, the payment-method financial provider had a break-out session at the conference to speak directy to representatives from various credit unions. The audience included several Jamaican participants. The session addressed credit unions that wanted to grow their business and enhance the suite of products offered to their members.

 

JCCUL was highlighted in the presentation, as an example of the type of deal that Mastercard can introduce to credit unions, which up to this point were usually considered too small to be an acquirer.

 

The organisation has had a rethink now, however, and according to break-out presenter Juan Zavala “the potential is huge”.

 

The Mastercard brand is ranked number 15 in brand value at US$70.8 billion. The company has a presence in 210 countries and territories and is used in 150 currencies. The company said it had 56 million acceptance points and 2.3 billion customers who performed 56 billion transactions.

 

But the company's main competitor is not other credit/ debit card brands such a Visa, but actually cash. A total of 85 per cent of transactions happen in cash.