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Thursday, October 6, 2011

MasterCard grows the prepaid pie

At MasterCard Worldwide's annual Investment Community Meeting held Sept 15, 2011, in New York City and streamed online via webcast, an executive detailed the corporation's prepaid card strategy. Central to that strategy are general purpose reloadable, corporate and government benefits cards underpinned by financial inclusion initiatives underway globally, said Timothy Murphy, Chief Product Officer at MasterCard.

According to Murphy, prepaid cards will represent an $840 billion global market by 2017, with the fastest growth in the market occurring outside the United States. Murphy said prepaid cards can create a bridge to financial inclusion for 2.5 billion adults worldwide who lack access to mainstream banking services.

Murphy highlighted Egypt, where 65 percent of adults are unbanked and where MasterCard has over 1 million cardholders. With Egypt undergoing political and social upheaval, the only people getting paid on time have been government workers who receive pay on MasterCard-branded payroll cards, Murphy said.

Murphy also touted the versatility of prepaid cards as facilitators of person-to-person payments, remittances and mobile payments. As an example, Murphy offered the Digi Simple MasterCard launched in Malaysia in August 2011. The card, issued by Alliance Bank Malaysia SDN BHD and cobranded Digi Telecommunications SDN BHD, allows the telecom's mobile phone users to top up phone minutes and also make payments and cash withdrawals.

Murphy said the card will evolve to include a mobile wallet feature that will allow younger unbanked consumers, as well as overseas workers, access to mobile payments capabilities.

Another aspect to MasterCard's global strategy is to become a full-service prepaid card provider. In April 2011, the card brand acquired Travelex's program management subsidiary, which manages consumer and corporate prepaid travel cards for banks, retailers, travel agents and foreign exchange bureaus. MasterCard rebranded the subsidiary Access Prepaid.

Murphy said Access Prepaid allows MasterCard to "touch all points of the prepaid value chain, not just processing, not just branded switching, but now program management." Therefore, MasterCard now provides fraud and risk management, marketing and even call center services for prepaid card programs. "Having that full set of assets really lets us drive prepaid's growth," he noted. end of article

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