2014 has seen no slowdown in prepaid card launches around the world

Prepaid cards are becoming popular with those who either don't have a bank account or have suffered some financial setbacks and are looking to get their credit rating back on track. Today many prepaid card features either match or even surpass other payment solutions.

With the aim of bridging the gaps in access to banking and traditional payment services, new prepaid cards are being launched into the market with the hope that they get enough traction to serve those deprived of such needs.

8pip Bitcoin (Singapore)

In a bid to make Bitcoin transactions simpler for the public, Singapore-based startup 8pip launched what it claims as the world’s first Bitcoin prepaid cards on 7th May. It allows customers to buy Bitcoin value. The card’s equivalent value in bitcoins can be redeemed at the CardToCoin website. These prepaid cards currently cost at least S$20 worth of bitcoins. Each card comes with a dedicated serial number and a private key for redeem purpose. 8pip also plans to allow customers to redeem bitcoins from the card via SMS commands.

KDDI au WALLET (Japan)

On 8th May, MasterCard in partnership with KDDI, a major Japanese operator, had announced the launch of ‘au WALLET’ prepaid card program. It will target 34 million KDDI subscribers initially. It is one of the largest prepaid card programs in the entire APMEA region. The card can be used at all merchant locations which accept MasterCard payment cards. To obtain a card, you don’t need a credit evaluation which is beneficial especially to unbanked people. Also, the card can easily be reloaded at au shops or online portals. The cardholders will also receive points for purchases made and can further redeem those points as well. The prepaid card service began on 21st May.

UBA Visa (West Africa)

United Bank of Africa, in collaboration with Visa, launched this prepaid card service on 12th March. The service is targeting the unbanked population especially in the West Africa region. The card can be setup without the need for the customer to own/operate a bank account with UBA. It comes denominated in the local currency and is pre-funded and easily re-loadable. It can be used at all Visa acceptance channels as well as for ATM, POS and Web transactions. The card comes with Visa’s chip based technology for enhanced security. Users get alerts on important notifications through SMS. It can be co-branded to serve as student ID and payment card for universities, government ministries and private companies. It can also be used as a salary card.

Rogers Prepaid MasterCard (Canada)

This prepaid card is the result of collaboration between InComm, a leading prepaid product and transaction service company, and Peoples Trust, a financial institution, in Canada. The prepaid card, launched on 20th May is to be used in the SureTap mobile wallet service being provided by the known operator Rogers. The Rogers Prepaid MasterCard is currently available on select android and blackberry 10 smartphones that include NFC capabilities. The card is issued through SureTap wallet and can be used across retailers in Canada accepting contactless payments. It has been launched keeping in mind the high penetration of smartphones in Canada as well as the developed POS infrastructure for mobile payments.

Paymentwall Mint

Paymentwall Inc., a global payment processing company, expanded its product portfolio by launching the prepaid card under the brand name MINT on 19th March at the annual GDC conference in San Francisco held. The prepaid card is intended for both physical and digital distribution to end-users. It will be available across distributors in Turkey, Russia, Europe, USA as well as remote regions of South East Asia, Latin America where much of the unbanked population can be found. Mint cards are redeemable at Paymentwall’s current 35000+ merchants. These cards are 100% free of any chargebacks and come with Paymentwall’s customized risk management solutions for security in transactions.

Access Link (Ghana)

Access Link Limited, a Ghanaian bank, launched the prepaid card service on 28th February with the aim at reducing foreign currency purchases in the country by encouraging traders and merchants to load their money in cedis. The Access Link card can be used as a Gh-link accepted ATM card as well thus roping in unbanked population as well as reduce the reliance on cash. This prepaid card comes loaded with EMV technology using the chip and PIN security features. It is currently being issued at free of charge to both the customers and non-customers of the bank. The common traveller can load Ghana cedis and use the card in any currency abroad.

T-Mobile Visa (USA)

On 22nd January, the prepaid card was launched by the popular US operator with the aim at targeting consumers who don’t or choose not to use traditional banking products. Many banking customers face tyranny in form of punishing fees and charges, declining convenience, etc. Hence, the reloadable prepaid card is being provided as a fee friendly service in collaboration with Bankcorp Bank. The prepaid card has no purchase fee, no monthly fee and no fee for cash reloads at T-Mobile stores but this is only for the operator’s customers. Non-customers have to pay $4 to get the card and certain maintenance fee based on the amount loaded onto the card. Funds can be loaded onto the cards using multiple methods like direct deposit, mobile check deposit, Reloadit packs, MoneyGram and Visa ReadyLink.

Lead Bank (USA)

The bank launched reloadable prepaid cards on 6th March in an effort to reach out to an estimated 70 million working adults having no bank account. The employers have the option to set up their accounts and then they can issue the cards to employees as direct deposit option for giving wages. The major benefits of this card are that employees don’t require a credit check or a checking account to avail the card and purchases and bill payments can be done as well. The bank is also looking forward to providing this service to individuals, for example, college kids staying away from home.

TD Bank’s TD Go (USA)

The card was launched earlier this year on 13th January with the idea of giving parents a service they can use for their teenage children. The card gives young adults the freedom to purchase items online, at physical stores and wherever Visa debit cards are accepted. Parents have the option to track their teen’s spending online, and they can also setup email and text alerts for balance and other account information. The tracking can be done in real time as well. Funds can be loaded to the card in multiple ways: using debit or credit card and also through direct deposit from bank.