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Absa and Visa launch prepaid cards for the underserved in South Africa

24 July 2008 Absa Group Limited (Absa) & Visa Inc.

Re-loadable prepaid cards offer easy access to an affordable, convenient and secure financial solution over cash and cheques

Absa and Visa today announced the launch of the first re-loadable prepaid cards in South Africa. The Absa Prepaid Debit Card is designed to offer an affordable financial service to the unbanked and underserved consumer segments.

The Absa Prepaid Debit Card is well suited for a wide range of consumers, including: people with irregular income (for example contract and part time workers), those who cannot access traditional banking products, those who want to replace cash or cheque payments with a suitable alternative, or want to receive electronic payments without opening a traditional bank account.

“Building on the success of other prepaid services, such as mobile phones, fixed line telephony and electricity, we believe prepaid cards are just what is needed to ensure safe, affordable banking for those who previously were unable to access or afford financial services, for whatever reason,’ says Venete Klein, Executive Director of Retail Bank at Absa. “We also believe that we have to be innovative when it comes to product development by offering our customers safe alternatives to cash, above and beyond the existing Mzansi Account.”

Prepaid cards are emerging as a popular new method of payment globally and Absa and Visa are the first to pioneer re-loadable prepaid solutions for the unbanked and underserved in South Africa. “Re-loadable prepaid cards complete Visa’s payment product set providing solutions for those segments who are outside of the mainstream financial sector,” says Rob Clark, General Manager, Visa Sub Saharan Africa.

According to Absa prepaid cards offer affordability as there is only a one-time fee of R30 for issuing the card. Each card is valid for three years and there are no monthly management fees. The card also offers free purchase transactions at till points, one free balance enquiry and no charges for all prepaid airtime top-ups transactions. Secure transactions are ensured through PIN based verification and the card, which has no minimum balance, can be topped up by transferring funds through mobile or online banking, or from any ATM.

Speaking on Absa’s partnership with Visa, Klein said “We are proud to partner with Visa and draw on their international expertise to ensure the success of this product in South Africa. Our presence in Africa and the partnership with Visa provides a great opportunity for the prepaid concept to take root across the continent and reach new marketplaces,” concludes Klein.

“Visa is driving a global push on prepaid cards to empower the unbanked and underserved market segments within the developing marketplaces in this region,” says Clark. “The launch of the Absa Prepaid Debit Card is proof of our commitment to providing the underserved market with safe and convenient access to financial solutions, while at the same time paving the way for the further application of this technology in the retail, health care, employee benefits and government solution segments” he concludes.

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