As of today young people in Venezuela can obtain credit and debit cards at non-profit rates, as part of a plan to incorporate more youth into the financial system.
The cards, available through a program called Somos, are for people aged 15 to 35. The debit card is free of bank fees, while there is a 14% interest rate on the credit cards, well below the typical 30% interest rate and current annual inflation of 45.5%. The credit card has an initial limit of 6,000BsF (US $952), but that can be extended with time.
All higher education students receiving state scholarships are also eligible for the card and youth with social-productive projects will be prioritised. The credit card can also be used to acquire foreign currency at the official rate after 6 months of use, however both cards can’t be used in pubs, bars, pawn shops, or casinos.
The program also includes financial education and the state owned Bank of Venezuela will conduct workshops in universities about the financial system.
Youth can register for the program through the youth ministry website and also in main plazas around the country
Youth minister Hector Rodriguez said the program aimed to promote “productive youth, and… go beyond the petroleum based economy towards a productive economy” and to “socialise banking” for youth.
While vice-minister for youth, Mervin Maldonado said the Somos cards are part of a “process of inclusion”. He said that over 5,000 people have already registered for the program through the ministry website, and that people with the card would be able to obtain discounts, “especially through institutes that are affiliated to the tourism ministry”. Card holders can also get discounts of up to 30% from state companies and progressively, with private companies who sign agreements with the youth ministry.
The youth ministry was created towards the end of 2011 and is run by young people.