MasterCard Inc. has launched its first debit card in Latin America for high-income customers.

The card brand and Costa Rica’s Banco Nacional, or BNCR, unveiled the “Black” debit card on Aug. 8, according to the Costa Rica Star newspaper.

MasterCard chose to introduce the card in Costa Rica because it has a high concentration of affluent consumers, Gabriel Pascual, MasterCard’s director for Costa Rica, Honduras and Guatemala, stated at a press conference for the card launch.

"We could not have chosen another country because of the advanced banking system and because the average of customers with high purchasing power in Latin America is 9.2 percent, but in Costa Rica it is 13 percent," Pascual says.

MasterCard intends to eventually provide the Black card in other regions in Latin America and South America, Pascual says.

BNCR will offer the high-end debit cards by invitation only to customers with the highest transaction volumes, BNCR manager Fernando Naranjo said at the press conference. The bank, Costa Rica’s largest, has more than 1.7 million debit card accounts, Naranjo says.

The bank has a goal to issue 500 cards this year, 1,000 in 2014 and 20,000 over the next three to four years, Naranjo says.

The Black debit cards provide special offers and services, insurance and warranties, as well as preferred access to events and travel perks, the companies say.

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