Viewpoint: Better Disclosures Are Good for Consumers and Industry
By Ron Hynes, MasterCard Worldwide
Having to physically cash a paycheck, make a dedicated trip to pay an electric, phone or gas bill, or being unable to make online purchases seems inconceivable to many of us. Yet, those limitations are a reality for millions of Americans, many of whom represent the most economically vulnerable in our society. In the U.S., a cash-only lifestyle costs time and money, provides no security and drives many to expensive check cashing services. Access to mainstream financial services and electronic payments are not only more convenient but necessary in today’s busy life. Still, many individuals and families are on the outside looking in.
Recently, Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) introduced the Prepaid Card Disclosure Act of 2014. This legislation would require prepaid card fees to be disclosed clearly on packaging and additional information available online and through a toll-free number. MasterCard agrees that all consumers should have access to this essential information and supports efforts to improve the experience for cardholders.
In fact, in December we introduced similar standards for payroll cards, designed to help employees take full advantage of the benefits of having their paychecks electronically deposited into prepaid accounts. When the payroll card standards are fully implemented later this year, every payroll card that carries a MasterCard logo will give employees a fee-free way to access their pay and check their available balances and MasterCard’s Zero Liability guarantee against fraud, and will provide clear disclosure of any fees associated with their accounts.
Helping more consumers access electronic payments is one of MasterCard’s highest priorities, and millions of consumers are finding that ability for the first time with prepaid cards. We understand that choosing any financial product can be daunting, but even more so for those without experience using ATMs, checking accounts, debit or credit cards. Some products may offer lower fees, unique benefits or rewards. Others are designed for specific purposes, such as travel, budgeting or supporting a college student. We want our cardholders to have access to the product that best meets their needs. That’s why we support clear and concise disclosure of fees and features for products. Standardizing fee disclosure is a natural next step for prepaid consumers and the industry.
Ron Hynes is executive vice president, global prepaid solutions, MasterCard Worldwide. A 2014 Paybefore Awards Industry Achievement winner, Ron has been championing prepaid for more than 15 years.