Tesco Launch Prepaid Card with Altair and Newcastle

11 September 2008

Altair Financial Services International Plc (Altair), a market leading supplier of innovative prepaid card and transaction processing solutions and Newcastle Building Society, have launched a MasterCard® prepaid travel card programme for Tesco Personal Finance (TPF), the banking arm of the UK’s largest and world's fourth largest retailer. The Tesco Travel Money Card will join an assortment of financial products already offered by TPF including credit cards, loans, mortgages, savings accounts and insurance.

The launch of the Tesco Travel Money Card represents a watershed moment for the prepaid card industry in Europe. The entry of a leading global retailer to the prepaid card market is expected to set a stirring precedent for other retailers still weighing up the potential of issuing branded prepaid card programmes of their own.

“We want to offer our customers a smart, safe way to access funds abroad,” says Yvonne Byrne from Tesco Personal Finance. “We’re confident that the card is the best value product on the market, and given the rising cost of overseas travel, every little bit helps.”

The card launch is perfectly timed to reach holiday season travellers this summer and Tesco customers planning for their holiday will see Tesco Travel Card branding on the Tesco website and in-store throughout the UK.

“We are delighted that Tesco, Britain’s largest supermarket chain, is entering the prepaid card market with Altair. This is an exciting product from the retail perspective and adds to Altair’s innovative product set,” comments Lee Britton, CEO at Altair. "The team at Tesco Personal Finance have a firm grasp of the travel and retail market dynamics. Combined with Altair’s experience in delivering award winning prepaid card solutions, we are confident that the Tesco prepaid card program will be a resounding success.”

“Tesco’s move to enter the prepaid space will significantly contribute to general market awareness of network branded prepaid cards in the UK. It's also unlikely that Tesco will be the last major brand to enter this area of the market, with similar deals looking likely before the year end,” said Britton.

Kriya Patel, Head of Card Solutions at Newcastle Building Society commented, “We are delighted to be able to issue the Tesco MasterCard prepaid card in conjunction with Altair on behalf of Tesco Personal Finance, which enables them to become more flexible and respond to the changing needs of their customers. In the height of this year’s holiday season this Prepaid Travel Money Card couldn’t be more suited to everyone travelling abroad this summer.”

Available in Euro and US Dollar currency, the Tesco Prepaid Travel Money Card is designed to increase the security and ease of taking money abroad. The Tesco Travel Money Card provides a modern replacement for travellers’ cheques and excess foreign currency, and also acts as a buffer between the customer and their bank account, protecting their account from fraudsters.

The Tesco Travel Money Card has no fees associated with card application, no fees and 0% commission on all card loads, no fees for purchases at Point of Sale (POS)1 and together with competitive exchange rates, Tesco have created a very attractive consumer offering. Customers will also benefit by receiving 100 Clubcard Points when loading their card for the first time. As an added bonus, customers can opt to receive a free secondary emergency card, which can be used in the event the primary card is lost or stolen.

The card program will make use of the Altair Mobile Payment System (AMPS), which provides cardholders with a range of self-service card management tools by simply using their mobile phone. After the cardholder associates their mobile phone with their prepaid card, they can send mobile SMS (text) messages to load their card and check their balance. As an added security feature, AMPS can be used to ‘lock’ and ‘unlock’ the card. When locked using AMPS, the card can not be used at point of sale or to withdraw cash at ATMs, and thus prevent any unauthorised use.

The card is accepted in over 26 million locations worldwide using Euros or US Dollars and can be blocked and unblocked free of charge. With this added flexibility the Tesco Travel Money Prepaid Card offers additional peace of mind to all holidaymakers travelling abroad.

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