MasterCard Inc. is working with The Center for Financial Inclusion at Accion to launch a research initiative, Mapping the Invisible Market, with an interactive website as part of the Financial Inclusion 2020 initiative.

Mapping the Invisible Market will look at demographics, urbanization and income among other factors affect financial inclusion, especially for the 2 billion people that don't use formal financial services. For example, by 2050, one in five people will be elderly worldwide. As the developing world ages, policy makers will need to think about their financial needs.

The interactive website will include tools such as a data explorer, which allows users to customize maps, bar charts and bubble graphs on the dashboard with more than 80 indicators and geographic areas. Plus users will be able to explore the financial inclusion profiles of any country or region.

"Now is a time of innovation in extending financial services to low income, underserved communities, says Elisabeth Rhyne, director of the Center for Financial Inclusion at Accion, in a Feb. 4 press release. "Countries at different demographic stages need to focus on financial inclusion policies that fit their demographic profile."

MasterCard's announcement to work towards the campaign's goal of complete financial inclusion for all comes only a week after Visa Inc. and Citigroup decided to take part in the campaign. MasterCard recently spoke with PaymentsSource about its steps to bring cash-only consumers to plastic prepaid cards and electronic payments.

"With half of the world's population still excluded from the formal economy, collaboration between development practitioners and businesses is critical," says Patricia Devereux, group head of corporate philanthropy and citizenship at MasterCard, in the release. "As we move towards a world beyond cash, we need to leverage technology and education programs that can drive real inclusion and empowerment."

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