The MasterCard rePower service that transforms cash into electronic money on a prepaid account has been launched in the UK, with other European markets to follow early next year. CQR Payment Group’s Kalixa prepaid card is the first card that can be loaded with cash.
The MasterCard rePower product enables cash to be added to eligible MasterCard or Maestro prepaid cards. The card can be topped-up safely, reliably and securely by using vouchers, which the partners CQR says are available at thousands of participating UK retail locations. These can be redeemed on the MasterCard rePower website. The funds are immediately available to the cardholder to spend wherever MasterCard or Maestro cards are accepted. Youngsters or those on limited budgets are expected to be the most interested target audience.
MasterCard has partnered with CQR Payment Group to provide the acquiring, processing and customer services, as well as a dedicated MasterCard redemption website. Vincento, part of CQR Payment Group, is the first issuer enrolled for the MasterCard rePower solution. CQR’s Kalixa prepaid card is the first prepaid programme that can be loaded in the UK via the MasterCard rePower service.
Depending on the European country, the MasterCard rePower solution will offer cardholders two ways to load cash – via a voucher as described above or a card. Using the latter option, cardholders provide the retailer with an eligible MasterCard prepaid card and the cash to be loaded, the card is inserted into the Point-of-Sale (PoS) terminal, as if it were a regular purchase transaction. The transaction is approved, the card is returned to the cardholder and funds are immediately credited to the card.
“Cash is costly, inconvenient and insecure for consumers, businesses and the wider economy. By enabling the quick and easy conversion of cash into prepaid funds we are helping to drive cash out of the circulation,” said Ed Chandler, chief executive officer (CEO) of CQR Payment Group. “MasterCard rePower is an enormous step towards creating a cashless society that is smarter, simpler and more secure for everyone,” he added optimistically.
According to Matt Lanford, head of prepaid at MasterCard Europe: “By enabling cash electronification to take place at a far wider range of merchants or online, MasterCard is creating a series of environments where prepaid can be disruptive to the normal flow of cash in our society and where those people bound to cash can take advantage of the security, convenience and control offered by prepaid.”
Eliminating cash is not so easy, however, and human being having been using stones, paper and other forms of ‘cash’ since time out of mind. A large customer education and marketing campaign is likely to be needed to drive significant uptake. Cash is declining, but eliminating it completely to create the ‘cashless society’ is a big ask.