A trio of companies, Finnish FinTech’s Enfcuce and Epassi along with French banking startup Welcome.Place, have partnered with Visa to launch a prepaid card program to assist Ukrainian refugees. Gloria Methri of IBSintelligence highlights details on how the program provides the refugees with a leg up after arriving in France:
“As part of its “Welcome Package”, refugees and immigrants arriving in France will receive a prepaid Visa card that is pre-loaded with funds to facilitate spending on a range of items and services within their first weeks in the country. Enfuce and its partner Epassi will facilitate the card issuing and physical card distribution.
Supported by Enfuce’s cloud-based processing platform, Welcome.Place can also remotely set full spending controls on each card, including where and how it can be used, with full tracking and monitoring of how money is spent”
The program identifies a key benefit of the utilization of prepaid cards to assist unbanked people in gaining access to modern payment and commerce channels. While this program specifically highlights the need of assisting financial inclusion for refugees, the overall essence of the service can be replicated for any group that is typically unbanked, either through economic status, immigration status age or other factors.
Charitable Grant Funds
In addition, the ability to utilize card networks and other technology can help systemic issues around the use of charitable or government grant funds. A program sponsor, such as Welcome.Place, can provide access to donated funds to individuals while also establishing guardrails to ensure that the funds that have been donated are used appropriately and efficiently. If combined with the ability to reload cards, users can then also more easily add their own earned funds to their cards to further access products and services.
Once a card is in circulation, the benefits for consumers, both banked and unbanked, can be critical with even more benefit for unbanked Americans.
Features of GPR Cards
Mercator Advisory Group research of American prepaid card consumers shows that 47% of people that utilize a general reloadable prepaid card will employ direct deposit to add additional funds to their cards. In addition, more than 60% value the ability to utilize a mobile app in order to deposit physical checks into their GPR card account. The combination of these features desired by consumers and the innovations of fintechs and card providers to service underrepresented communities through prepaid cards creates an easy path to follow to grow access and while adding interchange revenue opportunities for the program sponsors. Katherine Brown, VP and Head of Inclusive Impact & Sustainability of Visa articulates the mutual benefit of all parties in the IBSintelligence article.
“‘Accelerating access to the mainstream monetary system improves prospects for rebuilding a life in a new environment, and therefore Visa is proud to work with Enfuce to enable a Welcome.Place to those affected by forced displacement,’ said Brown.”
As economic and geopolitical conditions remain in flux in 2023 the linking of fintechs, banks and payment systems to utilize prepaid cards will be a key market to monitor for additional development.
Overview by Jordan Hirschfield, Director of the Prepaid Advisory Service at Mercator Advisory Group.