Technorati Tags: prepaid
Europe is seeing plenty of activity as well. We’ve looked at the Italian prepaid market before as it is the home of the widely-used Poste Italiane prepaid (Visa Electron) card. Now it’s going to be home of a contactless pre-paid MasterCard, as BancoPosta, the financial services arm of Poste Italiane, will launch a trial by the end of the year, offering prepaid cards to new cardholders with the PayPass application onboard. Cardholders will be able to tap to pay at a relatively small number of merchant locations in Rome and Milan during the six- to eight-month trial but it will still be interesting to see how the usage patterns develop. I’m particularly curious about is because cash accounts for 93% of transactions in Italy, the highest in Europe, so it will be a real litmus test of contactless’ ability to displace cash in retail transactions.
There have been a number of new pre-paid products entering the U.K. market as well. Barclays have just announced another re-loadable, PIN-protected travel money card that has been designed to replace paper travellers’ cheques and cash. It can be loaded with British pounds, US dollars and euros at Barclays branches, or over the telephone, using a debit or credit card. Customers can put the equivalent of between £100 and £2,500 on the card and the funds are available instantly. Balances can be checked at ATMs or over the phone. Lloyds TSB, Virgin Money and The Post Office have similar products. Lloyds TSB have also launched a money transfer card. Basically, you give the card to someone (eg, a child away at college) and tell them the PIN. Then you top it up from your bank account whenever. The card is charged £1.50 per ATM withdrawal and there’s a 3% currency conversion charge on f/x transactions.
I was thinking of getting a couple of these to try them out and report back on them in more detail, but it’s frankly too much hassle. I have to go to a branch with the usual passport and gas bill combination and fill out a load of forms, and I’m not dedicated enough to the cause to do this. Sorry.
These opinions are my own (I think) and presented solely in my capacity as an interested member of the general public [posted with ecto]