Managing money successfully. It's become a key theme at the Clinton Global Initiativeas leaders look for avenues to educate the consumer. Visa is one company leading the charge announcing its continued commitment to financial literacy on Wednesday, September 23.
The commitment? Visa says it will educate 20-million consumers worldwide by 2013. That's double its original plan unveiled at CGI just a year ago.
Visa Chairman and CEO Joseph Saunders stopped by the Closing Bell at CGI in and exclusive interview with Maria Bartiromo to talk about this initiative. For Saunders, financial literacy is of the utmost importance.
"The most important tools to spur financial inclusion is not a product – it is knowledge."
Saunders said, "We've made a commitment to make sure that we put financial literacy programs out to as many individuals as we possibly can.
It's impossible to electronicize the money transfer without having people understand how to use it.
So I think its essential to the development of the economies around the world in the long run."
On the consumer front, Saunders told Bartiromo the consumer is still facing challenges. "I think the consumer felt that their savings was in the value of the real estate they own. Now that the value of that real estate has diminished, I think they feel the need to put money in savings accounts."
While the consumer looks to gain confidence, Saunders is growing more confident on the state of the U.S. economy. "I think the economy is doing better. I think we're above the bottom. The question is - is the recession going to be a v-shaped recession or take longer? I think we need to bide our time and wait and see."
For Visa though, there's clear evidence of growth overseas. Saunders told Bartiromo "it seems that Asia may be leading the world out of this particular recession. Having said that, the United States is critically important to anything that happens. I'm very confident and bullish in where we'll wind up a little bit down the road."
When asked if international growth is the 'jewel' in Visa's business, Saunders said, "we haven't penetrated the rest of the world to the extent that we have the United States. So we have two things going on. The improvement in their economy in the secular shift from checks…and cash to plastic."
On the regulatory front, Washington is clearly playing an unprecedented role in business today. For the credit card industry, that means consumers now have 45 days to reject proposed rate increases under the current reform. Companies will also have to mail bills 21 days before the due date, up from 14 days. Saunders told Bartiromo "the government is going to do what they think they need to do to protect consumers." Saunders also said he "hopes and believes there will be a dialogue that will make that an effective oversight matter." _____________________________
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