MasterCard and Plastiq Enable Faster U.S. Tuition Payments for Chinese Students

MasterCard launched a new site with card payment service Plastiq yesterday to help Chinese students in the U.S. pay their tuition, even if their schools do not accept credit cards for payments.

“For the first time, [Chinese] students will be able to pay in their local currency,” said Plastiq co-founder and Head of Product Daniel Choi, adding that Plastiq was “very excited” about the  (c) Can Stock Photoopportunities the company’s new partnership with MasterCard will bring. “They can actually enter the amount of money they want to pay in US dollars on the screen, and it will calculate in real-time the amount of RMB they will be charged,” Choi said.

In January, MasterCard partnered with payments innovator Coin to launch payment services in the internet of things.

Plastiq’s main goal is to make these types of payments as easy as possible for their users, many of whom are students who might experience critical payment delays as their transactions could be held at customs for 2-3 weeks at a time, according to Choi. Plastiq currently fields payments for any business, including schools, in the USA or Canada.

The startup Flywire, formerly known as peerTransfer, is a significant player in this space. As international students become ever more important for U.S. institutions, and international transfer remain cumbersome and expensive, this is a problem crying for more and better solutions.

Plastiq notes that Flywire can charge as much 5% to 6% per payment, while its own connection to the MasterCard network enables less expensive transfers. With the Plastiq technology that converts a user’s debit or credit payment into checks or money orders and the added help of MasterCard, the first-of-its-kind payments service site could solve a significant portion of the challenges Chinese students face when making payments.

Chinese students number 31% of the total number of international students coming to the U.S., according to the Institute of International Education’s 2014-2015 Open Doors report. Their ability to make quick and uncomplicated tuition payments, as well as pay for all of the other costs of studying abroad such as housing or renting a car, is critical.

“This is not the end goal,” said Choi. “With this we’ve set up the infrastructure for the service in China, but at the same time we’ve ultimately set it up for any country in the world, especially those with a high volume of students coming in to the USA. We are very quickly looking at those other markets, like India or South Korea.”

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