Visa Inc. / Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago
Fourth Annual Financial Literacy & Education Summit
Monday, April 19, 2010

Remarks by Jennifer Kuperman
Head of Global Corporate Responsibility, Visa Inc.

Thank you, Charlie.

On behalf of all of my colleagues at Visa, it is my privilege to welcome you to the Fourth Annual Financial Literacy & Education Summit, convened in partnership with the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.

As always, Charlie Evans and his exemplary team here at the Chicago Fed have been great partners. Through every stage of planning and then executing today’s event, they have shown why they are true leaders within the Federal Reserve System. And a special thank you to Doug Tillett and his colleagues — for all they have done to make today possible and to advance financial literacy broadly.

I also want to thank Jason Alderman. Jason is not only the face of financial literacy for Visa, he is the heart and sole. And, he was instrumental in making today’s event happen.

Over the last four years, this gathering has emerged as one of the most important annual events for Visa. Not only because financial education represents a cornerstone of our corporate responsibility efforts, but also because it allows us the rare luxury of self–reflection and evaluation. Every year, we are able to benchmark what we have learned, where we want to go, and — most importantly — the smartest way to get there.

That financial literacy is fundamental to the efficiency of our global economy is not in dispute. To shamelessly steal a line from Michelle Greene — financial literacy has graduated from a "nice–to–have" to a "must have."

But none of us can succeed in this monumental task by working alone in our silos. We have to ask: how can we all collaborate so that our efforts complement each other and better converge for optimal impact? As we survey the financial literacy landscape, what are our individual and collective roles? What is the role of the government? The private sector? Non–profits? Educators? Where do we operate best in partnership? Are there times when our efforts may be duplicative or, worse, counterproductive? And, once we have reached consensus on the workable strategies for financial education, what are the best ways to bring them to scale? What do these solutions look like when they are ultimately implemented, say, here in Chicago? Or in Moscow? Or in Toronto? Or in Beirut?

At Visa, we are working to figure this all out. As the world’s leading payments brand and as a global corporate citizen, we know we have an important role to play. And we take this responsibility very seriously. As our daily economic lives become increasingly digitized, it is incumbent on payment networks like Visa to ensure that consumers and businesses alike have the know–how to quickly — but prudently — assess the fast expanding array of financial resources at their disposal.

Over time, we have built a solid track record in financial education with considerable global breadth and depth. However, we are the first to acknowledge that we can always do more. And it is in conversation — and in partnership — with all of you — that we will be able to get smarter and more effective.

Under Michelle Greene’s direction, we have an Administration that is actively engaged on the issue of financial literacy. From the Treasury Department’s updated National Strategy to the newly– created Presidential Advisory Council on Financial Capability, the Obama Administration is making a real difference in this arena, and we are grateful for their leadership.

Because of this and the efforts of all of you, we at Visa remain optimistic about the outlook of the global economy. This does not mean we have a naive view of the economic crisis that has devastated so many. Quite the opposite — we’ve had a ringside view of the damage that has been done. But what we have learned is that if economic growth is to be sustainable, it must be inclusive. And, we see "digital currency" as the fundamental building block of a secure, efficient — and inclusive — economy.

Visa is proud to have been a formative part of the "digital currency" revolution. Over the last 50 years, we have built one of the world’s most advanced processing networks, capable of more than 20,000 transactions per second, with reliability, convenience and security. While we do not set rates, fees, or extend consumer credit, we do enable banks and credit unions to offer more choices by facilitating "digital currency."

Digital currency transcends borders, breaks down walls and empowers individuals. It helps people open up bank accounts and manage their money in the most remote and underserved areas in the world. Digital currency enables a merchant in Mumbai to make a mobile transaction with a bank in London. It facilitates remittances, and it even helps economies grow. Earlier this year, Moody’s Economic Research calculated that the use of digital currency by consumers alone increased national and global GDP by 0.5 percent annually, adding $1.1 trillion dollars to global GDP between 2003 and 2008. Fundamentally, we see digital currency as the currency of progress.

But, as the last few years have graphically taught us, digital currency is far from a panacea — especially if two inextricably linked — but critical — variables are overlooked, namely financial inclusion and financial education.

Half the world does not have access to basic financial services like a bank account or the ability to secure a loan at a reasonable interest rate. That means that half the world is putting their money under the mattress or is vulnerable to predatory lending schemes. Here in the United States, according to the FDIC, at least a quarter of United States households— representing 60 million adults — are unbanked or underbanked.

There have been attempts to quantify the overall opportunity cost to the global economy inherent in financial exclusion — lost income, lost revenues, and lost profits. But while we can tally up the effect, it is just as important to understand the cause of the problem. Why are people financially excluded? What are their barriers to entry?

Over the last decade, accelerated academic and applied research has enabled us to better understand the many barriers to inclusion — from gender, to age, to education and from income, to geography, to language. Over time, a recurring theme has begun to emerge. No matter where you’re from or what you do, you are more likely to be financially included if you are financially literate. Conversely, the less financially literate you are, the more likely it is that you are financially excluded. Hence, financial literacy itself can be seen as both a cause and an effect.

Which is what brings us all here today, and we are grateful for this discussion.

For over a decade, financial literacy has been a vital part of what we do at Visa. Helping adults, parents, teachers and students master the fundamentals of personal finance is a part of our DNA. And — we have ambitious goals. Last September, Visa announced at the Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting that we would build on our initial commitment in 2008 and redouble our efforts to reach 20 million people with financial literacy worldwide by May 1, 2013. Today, I am pleased to announce that we are significantly exceeding our progress toward this goal and have already reached 10 million people with Visa’s financial literacy program.

A major component of our program is Financial Football — or Financial Soccer, as we call it here in the U.S. With FIFA World Cup fever building, we thought this was the perfect time to use Visa’s sponsorship of the world’s most popular sport to harness the passion for soccer and turn it toward financial literacy.

So far, Visa has translated the Financial Soccer educational video game in 10 different languages and disseminated it widely — at no cost — in many countries. Next week, we will rollout a localized version of Financial Soccer in our 30th country — Honduras. And we have a special visitor joining us today: Roger Espinoza, a soccer superstar in Honduras and the United States, where he plays for the Kansas City Wizards. Roger and the Honduran national team are heading to South Africa to compete in the World Cup, and we’re privileged to have him here today to update us on an exciting milestone.

Roger’s remarks: "Thank you, Jennifer. I am very pleased to be here today for such an important event. This is truly an impressive gathering. I have the honor to announce that Financial Soccer has reached the milestone of being used 1 million times since it was launched just seven months ago. Congratulations to Visa for not only creating a useful tool like Financial Soccer, but for making it accessible to people all over the world. And a special thanks for bringing it to Honduras, where I know firsthand just how much people need valuable information like this."

Thank you Roger.

Following the Summit today, Roger and Chicago Fire star Brian McBride will join Visa at Clemente Community Academy in Chicago to announce that Visa will be working with the Illinois Treasurer’s office to donate copies of Financial Soccer to every public high school in the state.

To date, we have worked with 25 state governments, including Illinois, to distribute our free financial literacy materials statewide. States have found that our popular financial literacy resources allow them to provide their schools with high–quality financial education assets — all at no cost — which is the right price for most state governments these days.

We also devote much of our focus to innovation, because we all know one of the biggest challenges is making personal finance relevant, accessible and engaging. So from Tweeting about today’s summit, to developing Facebook widgets, to our YouTube videos developed by the Kahn Academy, to iPad games, Visa is constantly developing new ways to bring this important information to consumers.

We are taking an extra step today. We will also be donating free budgeting journals to every public high school student in the City of Chicago — all 115,000 of them. These simple, but effective journals will help Chicago’s teenagers track their spending and earnings and help them formulate a personal budget, in many cases for the very first time.

The work that goes on in the classroom is so vital, and I want to recognize one of the people most responsible for helping Visa succeed in reaching and resonating with teachers: Chauncey Veatch. Chauncey is with us today from Mecca, California, where he teaches in the local public schools, educating first–generation immigrant children. Among the many roles Chauncey plays — mentor, teacher, father figure and peacemaker — he also finds time to bring in the crucial life lessons of personal finance to his students so that they can be happy and successful contributors in their communities. Chauncey also finds time to help advise Visa on our financial literacy programs to keep them fresh and relevant in the classroom.

Chauncey helps us remember that financial literacy is not an abstract concept confined to academic white papers. It is about real people and making their lives better.

Please join me in recognizing Chauncey and all of the teachers who are bringing personal finance into their classrooms.

We are very proud of what Visa has been able to accomplish in the area of financial literacy. With the help of Chauncey and many of you, we have shown that the right program, delivered at the right time, to the right audience, can make a real difference in peoples’ lives.

Now, it is my distinct pleasure to introduce to you our esteemed keynote speaker. Duncan Niederauer is CEO and Director of NYSE Euronext and, as you can imagine, his experience is incredibly impressive. He joined the exchange in April 2007. Before that, he had a 22–year career at Goldman Sachs, which culminated in his serving as the Director and Co–Head of the Equities Division Execution Services. He has served on the board of Colgate University and his current memberships include the G100, the Economic Club of New York, the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy and the Shanghai International Financial Advisory Committee.

While his resume speaks for itself, at Visa, we are most grateful to him and his colleagues for teaming up with us on financial education. Last September, we worked with NYSE Euronext to launch our Financial Soccer game. My colleagues and I will also be joining Duncan next Tuesday in New York to ring the opening bell of the New York Stock Exchange to highlight the importance of financial literacy. Duncan has emerged as a real leader in financial education, and we are so honored to have him with us today.

Please join me in welcoming Duncan Niederauer...