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THE MASTERCARD FOUNDATION LAUNCHES $US 9.6 MILLION INITIATIVE WITH FINMARK TRUST AND CENFRI TO CREATE DATA FACILITY BENEFITTING PEOPLE LIVING IN POVERTY

TORONTO and CAPE TOWN, South Africa, Nov. 19, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The MasterCard Foundation today announced a five-year, $US9.6 million partnership with FinMark Trust and Cenfri of South Africa to launch and support a data facility designed to help financial service providers better understand the financial services needs of their clients. By doing so, the three organizations believe that more people living in poverty will have access to secure, affordable and convenient financial services.

"Banks and other financial service providers today, more than ever, need to be responsive to clients in order to differentiate themselves and remain relevant," said Ann Miles, Director of Programs, Financial Inclusion & Youth Livelihoods at The MasterCard Foundation. "i2i is an important, collaborative effort to help the industry improve not just the range and relevance of financial products and services, but also enhance clients' experiences and satisfaction with services being offered to them."

The data facility, named "insight2impact" (i2i), aims to demonstrate how financial service providers can draw customer insights from current data sets and effectively use them in product design and business decisions that offer clients services that meet their needs. It will also help to house, develop and disseminate new approaches for measuring financial access and use.

Dr. Prega Ramsamy, CEO of FinMark Trust, said "Our partnership with The MasterCard Foundation will allow us, through the i2i, to catalyze innovation for tailor-made solutions to meet client needs. This will undoubtedly take our work to the next level which is anchored on the quality of financial inclusion."

The initiative creates a practical resource which will help to increase capacity within financial service providers to use client-centred data. It will also help to build and highlight the business case for financial service providers to take more deliberate client-centric approaches to business decisions, particularly in terms of serving economically disadvantaged clients.

Herman Smit, Technical Director of Cenfri and interim lead of i2i, said "In most developing countries, limited insights on new consumer segments undermine the ability of the financial sector to best serve them. We believe through this pioneering collaboration we can work with financial service providers to improve our understanding of how they can best serve these new consumer segments through the use of data."

Research shows that access to the formal financial system can improve the lives of people living in poverty and small businesses. Financial inclusion can boost job creation, leading to poverty reduction and enabling more people to pay for important services, such as access to health care and education.

ABOUT THE MASTERCARD FOUNDATION

The MasterCard Foundation works with visionary organizations to provide greater access to education, skills training and financial services for people living in poverty, primarily in Africa. As one of the largest, independent foundations, its work is guided by its mission to advance learning and promote financial inclusion in order to alleviate poverty. Based in Toronto, Canada, its independence was established by MasterCard when the Foundation was created in 2006. For more information, please visit www.mastercardfdn.org.

ABOUT FINMARK TRUST

FinMark Trust, an independent trust based in Johannesburg, South Africa, was established in 2002, and is funded primarily by UKaid from the Department for International Development (DFID) through its Southern Africa office. More recently some other funders (UNCDF, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and The MasterCard Foundation) have come on board to support the work of FinMark Trust. FinMark Trust's purpose is 'Making financial markets work for the poor, by promoting financial inclusion and regional financial integration'. FinMark Trust does this by conducting research to identify the systemic constraints that prevent financial markets from reaching out to these consumers and by advocating for change on the basis of research findings. Please visit www.finmark.org.za for more information.

ABOUT CENFRI

The Centre for Financial Regulation & Inclusion (Cenfri) is an independent think tank based in Cape Town, South Africa. Our mission is to support financial inclusion and financial sector development through facilitating better regulation and market provision of financial services. We do this by conducting research, providing advice and developing capacity-building programmes for regulators, donors, financial service providers and other parties operating in the low-income market. In collaboration with key partners and funders we actively engage across Africa, Latin America and Asia. Please visit www.cenfri.org for more information.

CONTACT: Roger Morier Senior Manager, Communications The MasterCard Foundation +1-416-616-1864 (mobile) rmorier@mastercardfdn.org Nitha Ramnath Communication Manager FinMark Trust +2711 315 9197 +2782 921 4769 (mobile) nithar@finmark.org.za Herman Smit Interim Lead, i2i +2721 913 9510 herman@cenfri.org



Source:The Mastercard Foundation