MasterCard has emphasized prepaid cards to replace cash as a first step to extend financial services to the underbanked, and is adding mobile technology to add more services to its financial inclusion initiative.

 “Mozido’s mobile ecosystem brings easier, more attainable financial and mobile marketing services to merchants and customers," said Ron Hynes, group executive, Global Prepaid, MasterCard.

As part of a commercial partnership, Austin, Texas-based Mozido LLC will integrate MasterCard payment and security products into its ecosystem of mobile payment, marketing and other commerce services.

"It's a golden opportunity because we have an alignment of interests and have the same DNA as MasterCard's desire to bring those unbanked consumers into the financial ecosystem," said Michael Liberty, Mozido's founder and chairman of global strategic initiatives.

The partnership with MasterCard opens the door for Mozido to land similar agreements with other card brands, possibly establishing Visa Checkout as an option, said Richard Oglesby, senior analyst at Double Diamond Payments Research.

"What Mozido is trying to do is be applicable across all platforms, so the consumer can transact in any way he likes," Oglesby said.

Mozido differs from other mobile pay services that concentrate on retail payments because it "goes after very specific needs that they can build semi-customized solutions around," Oglesby added.

As a white-label provider, Mozido does not compete against any specific provider, Liberty said. Rather, the company focuses on providing its services to individual applications within a mobile wallet.

Mozido's services allow unbanked consumers to make payments and receive retailer coupons and offers, initiate person-to-person money transfers, or pay bills — all from any generation of mobile phone through any carrier service.

"Mozido’s strength in building versatile mobile financial and retail solutions that translate across borders makes the company a great partner for our prepaid card, payment, and security services,” Hynes added.

The partnership comes at a good time, Liberty said, because both companies are "very focused on the 2.5 billion consumers who are not part of the financial ecosystem."

Mozido's mobile payment services have always supported MasterCard credit, debit and prepaid cards. But the partnership brings to Mozido the card brand's MasterPass digital wallet, money transfer service HomeSend, as well as rePower, a prepaid reloading service.

The connection with MasterCard products will help Mozido continue to offer its services to network providers and national regulators, but mostly to the millions of retailers accepting MasterCard payments.

Mozido has most recently been working with regulators in Jamaica to establish a national mobile wallet that works on any carrier network, Liberty said. The wallet also provides merchants the opportunity to deliver coupons and loyalty programs to consumers.

"The Dairy Queen can offer customers 40% off over a 45-minute time period through a mobile message when they know, for example, that a thunderstorm is coming in," Liberty said. "That is a way for them to sell more during a storm, which is normally not a time for buying ice cream."

The Jamaica national wallet uses a prepaid card as a funding source, "getting the bank to the unbanked," said David Luther, executive vice president and chief business officer for Mozido.

MasterCard has shown its leadership in developing prepaid card use, creating national ID cards through its work in Nigeria and other regions, Luther said.

Having the MasterPass digital wallet integrated into Mozido's ecosystem streamlines the process for merchants in many cases, Luther said. "MasterPass is compatible with all merchants, and MasterCard is driving that as a payments solution," Luther added. "We don't have to worry about the merchant's current POS terminal and what they currently accept, or worry about how to integrate with that."

While the partnership bolsters Mozido's global efforts, it will also help in the U.S. market, Luther said.

Mozido is working with a partner to establish and mobilize a city ID card in Oakland, Calif., that would operate as a payment vehicle through a prepaid MasterCard for unbanked citizens, Luther said.

"There are many cities in the U.S. with similar initiatives taking place," Luther added.

Earlier this year, Mozido acquired loyalty program manager StickyStreet to bolster its mobile services for shopping and payment in retail stores, as well as marketing offers and enhancing bill paying.

Nearly a year ago, Mozido launched its P2P payment technology using Bluetooth Low  Energy, allowing users near each other to transfer funds through mobile devices.

In early 2013, MasterCard joined the Financial Inclusion 2020 campaign, which Visa Inc. and Citigroup helped form. The campaign strives for financial inclusion for all consumers, citing the difficulty that no access to financial services will have on an aging population in the coming years.

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