UK supermarket giants start prepaid programmes
Tesco and Sainsbury’s, the UK two biggest supermarkets, have both launched prepaid card programmes for their customers.
Tesco Personal Finance (TPF), the banking arm of the UK’s largest retailer has launched the Tesco Travel Money Card.
The MasterCard card programme is being provided by prepaid card solutions company Altair Financial Services and Newcastle Building Society. It will join an assortment of financial products already offered by TPF including credit cards, loans, mortgages, savings accounts and insurance.
In a statement Tesco said: “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.“
The card is aimed at replacing travellers cheques and enabling people to access funds when abroad.
“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,” commented Lee Britton, CEO at Altair.
The cards are available in Euro and US Dollar currency and have a minimum load of Eur100 and a maximum load of Eur3,000 (maximum perd ay of Eur1,500).
Customers will get 100 points on their Tesco Clubcard when loading the prepaid card for the first time. They can also opt to receive a free secondary emergency card, which can be used in the event the primary card is lost or stolen.
The programme will use the Altair Mobile Payment System (AMPS), which provides cardholders with a range of self-service card management tools by via their mobile phone. After the cardholder associates their mobile with their prepaid card, they can send mobile SMS text messages to load the card and check the balance. As a security feature, AMPS can be used to ‘lock’ and ‘unlock’ the card. When locked using AMPS, the card can not be used at POS or to withdraw cash at ATMs, and thus prevent any unauthorised use.
Sainsbury’s gift programme
Supermarket rival Sainsbury’s has also launched a prepaid card programme in conjunction with prepaid services company PrePay Technologies.
The Sainsbury’s Gift Card is available in over 750 stores in the UK as well as in bulk for corporate customers via Sainsbury’s Business Direct.
US-style gift card malls have become more prominent at UK retailers and are on their way to replacing traditional paper vouchers. Plastic gift cards now make up around 45% of total UK voucher sales, according national voucher association the VA.
The Sainsbury’s gift cards are available in a variety of designs, and have the choice of loading a specific value onto a gift card (from £1 to £750) or selecting a pre-denominated card, which can then be redeemed in any Sainsbury’s store within the UK and on over 30,000 products in store.
The card is targeted at occasions such as birthdays, Christmas, holidays and festivals or as a means to assist with budgeting weekly shopping. Business purchasers can use it as an incentive gift for staff and corporate clients.
This month Sainsbury’s is also launching the Meal Ticket Card aimed at students and their parents to help budget for food shopping whilst away at University.
Yvonne West, Manager of Gift Cards and Business Gifts at Sainsbury’s says “We are looking forward to growing the category and supplying our customers with solutions to their gift card needs.”
Philippe Dufour, CEO at PrePay Technologies, commented : “Gift cards have become an integral part of gifting in both the consumer and corporate sector and we are glad to once again be at the forefront of driving that change with one of the UKs most recognisable brands.”
PrePay Technologies also issues prepaid cards with retailers including Debenhams, Topshop, Topman, Burtons, Evans, Wallis, Dorothy Perkins, Outfit, Miss Selfridge, New Look, Comet, Laura Ashley, Bhs and Ticketmaster.