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Remarks by Joe Carberry, Global Head of Public Affairs, Visa Inc. at the Financial Literacy & Education Summit

April 20, 2009

Thank you. It is always nice to be back in Chicago, especially for an event as important as this.

I want to begin by thanking bank President and CEO Charlie Evans for his leadership in this important area – and to recognize Doug Tillett and his team here at the Fed for making today’s event possible.

My sincere thanks as well to Senator Akaka for his thoughtful remarks, and to our other distinguished speakers: Minister Flaherty, Mr. Zamarripa, Treasurer Giannoulias and Sara Rosen Wartell. We truly appreciate all of your participation today.

Bringing together leaders from government, industry and education to talk about financial literacy has always been a priority for Visa. That’s why for three years running, we have been working with the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago to hold this Summit.

But this year we meet with a renewed sense of urgency. Crisis has a way of improving clarity. And in the midst of the current global economic crisis, it is clear that too many people around the world lack basic financial skills. This contributes to both personal hardship as well as broader economic risk.

To meet this global challenge, it is fitting and encouraging that we bring together today leaders from around the world. Our speakers recognize that to achieve lasting economic stability, we must improve financial literacy. And in today’s interconnected world, we can benefit greatly from hearing each others’ ideas on how to do so.

As the world’s largest electronic payments network, Visa has a unique vantage point on our global economy. Every second of every day, our network facilitates transactions – from Chicago to Ottawa, Moscow to Mexico City – connecting businesses, governments, financial institutions and consumers in almost every nation. That global flow of commerce is a fundamentally good thing – it contributes to the wealth of all nations and to the richness and vitality of people’s lives the world over. But global commerce carries with it some important responsibilities.

First, wherever we are in the world, we have a responsibility to recognize the importance of basic financial skills for individuals. The need to balance a budget…to plan carefully for the future… to set aside savings for unplanned expenses…to use credit wisely… and to consume within one’s means – these are imperatives in any country.

Second, we each have a responsibility to do our part. Each one of us has a role to play: educators, governments, community- and faith-based organizations, and private enterprise – perhaps especially private enterprise. At Visa, we understand that responsibility. That is why we have made financial literacy a top priority for many years – implementing a wide variety of innovative programs.

At Visa, we’ve recently made an effort to increase awareness of our free resources to consumers. Many of you may have seen our “Go Responsibly” ads, which lay out our belief in responsible spending and provide information about accessing Visa’s tips and tools. For those who haven’t seen it yet, you can read it in today’s Chicago Tribune – and it is on the web site for those watching online.

Finally, we all have a responsibility to work together. Problems facing consumers in one nation now reverberate in far-reaching and unexpected ways. No single organization can reach all those who need improved financial literacy – but by working together, we can vastly amplify the impact of our efforts.

Over the years, at Visa, we have learned first-hand the importance of partnership. In the U.S., Visa has partnered with 22 state governments to provide free financial literacy materials – distributed to all the public high schools in each state – reaching hundreds of thousands of young people.

Recently, Visa partnered with McDonalds to launch America’s largest employer-based financial literacy initiative. The "McDonald's Practical Money Skills" program has been made available to more than 500,000 restaurant-level employees throughout the majority of McDonald's 14,000 U.S. restaurants.

Today, I am proud to announce a new partnership initiative: The "Chicago Practical Money Skills" program. This ground-breaking program will provide tangible financial literacy training for some 35,000 Chicago city government employees.

We must also look beyond our borders and work together to improve the financial skills not only in our own communities – but all over the world. While every country needs a unique approach that fits its culture and people, many great ideas can be exported from one place and successfully applied in another.

For example, in Canada, we’ve worked closely with educators to bring personal finance into classrooms throughout the country with our Choices and Decisions program.

In Mexico, we have partnered with the Buró de Crédito, the Mexican Credit Bureau, to raise awareness for our Finanzas Practicas educational web portal.

And in Russia we continue our successful partnership with the government on a public service announcement campaign to boost financial literacy levels. All of these programs share common traits and benefit from an exchange of ideas among the different people running them.

We are hopeful that today’s Summit can serve as a similar platform for sharing ideas about how to improve universally important financial skills. Visa has a long-standing commitment to making our materials available to everyone, free of charge. As a result, many entities use our content in their own efforts. For those of you watching online, on our global web portal PracticalMoneySkills.com, I invite you to explore the additional resources and expertise we have on the site. And for those of you in the room, I encourage you to look through the materials here at the event, or visit PracticalMoneySkills.com sometime soon. We welcome your use of this content in your work, to help more people access good information. By forging partnerships across organizations and across geographies we can achieve a common goal: A world in which all consumers have the skills and knowledge to manage their money effectively.

Doing so will not only contribute to the personal well-being of people everywhere – it will also create a solid foundation upon which future economic growth can be built.

In that spirit, I can think of no individual better qualified to guide us in our discussion than today’s moderator. Through her writing and broadcast appearances, her name has become synonymous here in the U.S. with personal financial responsibility. Please join me in welcoming award-winning journalist, best-selling author and the financial editor for NBC’s TODAY Show, Jean Chatzky.

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