Puerto Rican consumers appear to be getting their confidence back, at least when it comes to swiping their MasterCard at the cash register.
Such is the conclusion that Mario Pérez, general manager for MasterCard’s Caribbean region, offered based on last quarter’s performance levels on the island and throughout Latin America.
“Consumers appear to be getting back into their normal purchasing patterns,” said Pérez, who was in Puerto Rico over the weekend as part of MasterCard’s sponsorship of the 4th edition of the Saborea Puerto Rico food festival in San Juan.
Although he could not provide specific figures for Puerto Rico, he said the Latin American region ended 2010 with a 17 percent growth over the prior year and Puerto Rico was part of that improvement. During the last quarter of the year, MasterCard-branded plastic was used for 801 million purchase and cash transactions generating a total gross dollar volume of $66 billion on a regional level.
The expectation is that the momentum will remain through the first quarter of this year, which ended March 31.
“Those results aren’t out yet, but we’re keeping our fingers crossed that the momentum that was generated by the Christmas shopping season will continue,” said Pérez, in an exclusive interview with News is my Business.
According to MasterCard, the number of cards in use throughout Latin America increased 4.5 percent by the close of the fourth quarter of 2010, totaling 127 million cards that are accepted at close to four million locations in the region.
During 2010, MasterCard cardholders in the Latin America and Caribbean region used their plastic currency for a total of 2.8 billion purchase and cash transactions, worth about $221 billion, up 17.4 percent when compared to 2009, the company noted.
Over the weekend, MasterCard sponsored a culinary competition of its own during the Saborea event, when two top students from the Universidad del Este’s School of Hospitality and Culinary Arts went up against each other in an appetizer challenge. The winner received a prepaid MasterCard worth $350, and the runner-up received a $150 prepaid card.
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Business reporter with 25 years of experience writing for weekly and daily newspapers, as well as trade publications in Puerto Rico. My list of former employers includes Caribbean Business, The San Juan Star, and the Puerto Rico Daily Sun, among others. My areas of expertise include telecommunications, technology, retail, agriculture, tourism, banking and most other areas of the economy.