October 20, 2020

Why Mastercard is helping Flywire drive cross-border tuition payments

Mastercard is working with cross-border tuition specialist Flywire on a fall promotion targeting international students based in certain countries in the Middle East and Africa.

For students coming from the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Kenya and Ghana, Mastercard and Flywire will offer discounted foreign exchange fees on tuition payments for the fall term, the companies have announced.

Participating students and their families will be able to make international tuition payments in their local currencies using Mastercard credit or debit cards as Flywire’s lowest-cost card option during the promotion, Boston-based Flywire said.

Mastercard’s goal is to expand its share of Flywire’s large-sum tuition payments in new regions, Ryan Frere, Flywire’s executive vice president of global payments, said via email.

Mastercard and Flywire collaborated on a similar promotion in 2018 targeting students coming from Australia, Canada, Mexico, Russia, China, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Korea, Frere said.

The move comes as Flywire copes with a downturn in international school enrollment around the world due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“There’s no question COVID-19 has had an impact — where the peak payment cycle is typically in July and August, now we’re seeing it stretch into September and October,” Frere said.

It’s too early to tell how steeply international student enrollment has fallen for this academic year, he added, noting that 1 million foreign students typically study in the U.S. each year.

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