Master Your Card Launches African American Advisory Board

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Advisory board will help community leaders and organizations increase economic opportunities for African Americans through use of electronic payment solutions.

For too long, communities of color have faced a false choice between traditional banking services and costly, even predatory alternatives

Master Your Card, a community empowerment program sponsored by MasterCard®, announced today the formation of a new coalition that will work to help financially underserved African Americans build financial strength and gain financial inclusion through the effective use of electronic payment technology.

The Master Your Card advisory board is comprised of current and former African American political, labor, academic, business and civic leaders from across the United States. Members will provide input to help Master Your Card better understand the needs of financially underserved communities and small businesses. The board will also assist in the development of strategies, education and technology solutions to meet those needs.

“For too long, communities of color have faced a false choice between traditional banking services and costly, even predatory alternatives,” said Fred Mason, advisory board member and president of the Maryland State and District of Columbia AFL-CIO. “The Master Your Card advisory board is committed to providing working families with the tools and information they need to realize a world beyond cash and gain financial inclusion through the smart use of electronic payment technology.”

According to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation’s (FDIC) “2013 National Survey of Unbanked and Underbanked Households,” more than half of all African American households are financially underserved, meaning they have little to no access to traditional banking services. Instead, they often rely on check-cashing centers, payday lenders and other costly alternative financial services.

On average, a financially underserved household spends 9.5 percent of its income on fees and interest for these services, according to the 2014 white paper “Providing Non-Bank Financial Services for the Underserved,” released by the U.S. Postal Service’s Office of the Inspector General.

Electronic payment technology saves consumers time and money, and is safer and more convenient to use than cash.

“Prepaid cards and payroll cards can be highly effective bridge tools to enable the financially underserved to participate in today’s modern economy and keep more of their money,” said J. Phillip Thompson, associate professor of urban studies and planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Master Your Card advisory board member and author of the July 2014 study, The Technology to Advance Equal Financial Opportunity: How Emerging Electronic Payment Technology Can Provide Financial Services to Underserved Communities. “I look forward to collaborating with my fellow Master Your Card advisory board members to identify new ways to empower these families.”

To date, Master Your Card has gained input and provided education to the African American community through its work with the A. Philip Randolph Institute (APRI) to create educational materials for young people and students; a partnership with the National Urban League; participation and sponsorship with the Congressional Black Caucus; and work with the Minority Business RoundTable to highlight how business owners can accept cards and help grow their business.

Members of the Master Your Card African American advisory board include:

  • Donnel Baird, CEO and founder, BlocPower
  • Rev. David Chapman, executive minister, Baptist General Convention of Virginia
  • **William Coleman, mayor, Columbus, Ohio
  • Rev. Floyd Flake, pastor, Greater Allen AMC Cathedral
  • Stephen Gilchrist, president, South Carolina Black Chamber of Commerce
  • Lorretta Johnson, secretary-treasurer, American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO
  • Sabrina Lamb, founding CEO, World of Money
  • Charles R. Lowery Jr., interim director, NAACP Financial Freedom Center
  • Fred Mason, president, Maryland State and District of Columbia AFL-CIO
  • Cy Richardson, senior vice president, Economic and Housing Programs at the National Urban League
  • Elinor Ruth Tatum, editor and publisher, NY Amsterdam News
  • J. Phillip Thompson, professor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Pastor William Smart, president, Southern Christian Leadership Conference of California

** will serve when his term as mayor of Columbus ends in December.

For more information about Master Your Card, please visit http://masteryourcardusa.org.

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About Master Your Card

Master Your Card is a community empowerment program by MasterCard® to help consumer advocacy groups, small business groups and governments appreciate the value of credit, prepaid and debit cards as access points to an economically empowering electronic payments network.

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Jackie Priestly

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