Mastercard launches new financial inclusion program for millions in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras

May 11, 2022

The company commits to investing $100 million to accelerate access to the digital economy and support economic opportunity in northern Central America

Today Mastercard announced the launch of a new financial inclusion program in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras that will accelerate the company’s objective of including five million unbanked individuals and digitize and provide credit access to one million micro and small businesses (MSMBs) over the course of five years in the three countries. 

The new program builds on Mastercard’s decade-long track record in financial inclusion and seeks to make a significant impact as part of its work alongside the Partnership for Central America initiative. To reach its commitment, the company will invest $100 million to accelerate digital financial services that support economic opportunities in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.

According to the Global Partnership for Financial Inclusion, an average of 60% of adults living in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador do not have a bank account1.  This means millions of people do not have access to basic financial tools to transact in the digital economy. Of those who are banked, only one in four adults across the three markets owns a debit or credit card2. The significant unbanked population and low card use signifies that access to the financial system is a challenge in the region.

“The Partnership is grateful to our core founding partner Mastercard for its leadership and innovation in this space. With this investment of $100 million to bank the unbanked, we are eager to see real progress in supporting those in country and hope to build off this momentum throughout this next phase of growth for the Partnership,” said Jonathan Fantini-Porter, executive director of the Partnership for Central America, the coordinating body for U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris’s Call to Action for Private Investment in Northern Central America. 

Under the new program, Mastercard will work with partner banks to encourage and enable them to offer the best financial tools and solutions to unbanked and underbanked individuals and MSMB owners. Solutions include digital and physical debit or prepaid Mastercard card programs and micro business cards for business owners. In addition, consumers, and business owners will have access to security features and be able to make and receive digital payments for things like accessing social benefits, remittances (including person-to-person), point-of-sale purchases, access to small business financing, and more.

“We’ve taken concrete steps to bring 5 million people and 1 million small businesses into the digital economy in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.  Accomplishing this will require collaboration with fintechs, mobile service providers and banking partners to innovate and scale access to financial tools that reach the underserved,” said Michael Froman, vice chairman and president, Strategic Growth, for Mastercard. “Today’s announcement is another step forward in the journey toward a more prosperous northern Central America.”

“Financial inclusion still represents a challenge for many worldwide, especially in Latin America,” said Carlo Enrico, president of Mastercard for Latin America and the Caribbean. “We can see this now in those who have, and those who don’t have, access to the technology required to work, connect with family and friends, receive critical remittances, manage an online business or enjoy the convenience of e-commerce. The pandemic has underscored the critical need for greater digital inclusion and the risks for those left behind. Through our new financial inclusion program in northern Central America, we will enable our partners to deliver the financial tools needed to accelerate economic development for people and businesses to thrive in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.”

A progressive effort toward inclusion for all

In 2015, Mastercard committed to bring 500 million excluded individuals into the digital economy. In 2020, it extended its goal to connect an additional 500 million people by 2025, for a total of 1 billion individuals, including 50 million small and micro merchants, with a direct focus on providing 25 million women entrepreneurs with solutions that can help them grow their businesses with programs like the Regional Alliance for the Digitization of Women in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Across Central America, Mastercard has spearheaded several initiatives focused on fostering financial inclusion:

  • In 2021, Guatemala City became the first city in Central America to be part of Mastercard's City Possible, the company’s urban innovation network to build inclusive and sustainable cities. As a member of the 300-city network, the municipality of Guatemala has access to best practices such as the expansion of the contactless payment system in public transport, cybersecurity workshops and financial education programs, which are excellent tools for economic reactivation. In addition, Guatemala most recently became part of Mastercard’s Digital Country Partnership program to identify segments of the economy that would benefit from better digital payment infrastructures.
  • In 2022, GlobalPay Solutions, in partnership with Mastercard and Microsoft, launched the ROCKET App to empower small merchants in El Salvador. ROCKET is a mobile application for stores that allows merchants to enable card acceptance for goods, payment of public services, mobile phone top-ups and more.
  • In Honduras and across Central America, Mastercard has been a long-time sponsor of the INCAE LEADS Mujer program, a platform to promote and enable female entrepreneurs to grow their business. Through the program, Mastercard has granted more than $800,000 to support female entrepreneurs in the region.

Partnership for Central America

In May last year, Mastercard joined the Partnership for Central America, a coalition of private sector organizations advancing economic opportunity and addressing urgent climate, education, and health challenges through investment mobilization and program coordination.

1G20 Financial Inclusion Indicators, Global Partnership for Financial Inclusion

2 Source: World Bank (2019); Findex (2018); Datareportal (2020); CNBS Honduras (2020); Banco Central del Salvador

Media Contacts

Janet Rivera-Hernandez

About The Partnership for Central America

The Partnership for Central America is the Vice President Harris’s Call to Action to Deepen Private Sector Investment e coordinating body for  in the Northern Triangle. The Partnership aims to facilitate and support practical solutions to advance economic opportunity, address urgent climate, education and health challenges, and promote long-term investments and workforce capability in support of a vision of hope for Central America. If you are interested in learning more, please reach out to support@centampartnership.org

About Mastercard (NYSE: MA)

Mastercard is a global technology company in the payments industry. Our mission is to connect and power an inclusive, digital economy that benefits everyone, everywhere by making transactions safe, simple, smart and accessible. Using secure data and networks, partnerships and passion, our innovations and solutions help individuals, financial institutions, governments and businesses realize their greatest potential. Our decency quotient, or DQ, drives our culture and everything we do inside and outside of our company. With connections across more than 210 countries and territories, we are building a sustainable world that unlocks priceless possibilities for all.

www.mastercard.com