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Last Updated: Saturday, 20 May 2006, 12:36 GMT 13:36 UK
Pre-pay card to help 'unbanked'
By Chris A'Court
BBC Radio 4's Money Box

A 360money card
The card may appeal to people who are unable to get credit

A new payment card aims to help the millions of people who cannot get a bank account or credit card.

It has been designed to allow more widespread access to buying over the phone or internet where prices are usually cheaper.

Although similar cards are already available this one is set to benefit charities too, but consumers need to watch charges closely.

The 360money card is the brainchild of a firm called PrePay Technologies and its chief executive Philippe Dufour told BBC Radio 4's Money Box virtually anyone can have it.

"There is no credit attached to this card so because of that we are not requiring a lot of information," he said.

"We are requiring a name; a valid address that we can validate with our database and service providers, and we are working with the Post Office, Paypoint and Mastercard."

The programme was broadcast on Saturday 20 May 2006

Applications for the card can be made online and when a customer receives their card they can take it to a post office or convenience shop with cash to charge it up, ready for spending online, by phone or in shops.

Spending is strictly limited to the amount put on the card - like a mobile top-up - so it is impossible to overspend.

The spending limitations could also make it attractive to anyone who currently avoids shopping via the internet because of fears that thieves will steal credit card details.


Among the drawbacks to the 360money card is a 1.50 charge for all cash machine withdrawals and a monthly management fee of 1.99.

A 360money card
Buying over the internet with the card does incur a fee of 2.5%
Plus buying anything with the card over the phone or internet incurs a 2.5% fee each time, so for example, spending 50 triggers a fee of 1.25.

Philippe Dufour said his company has to recoup costs somehow and that percentage charging is not always a disadvantage.

He pointed out that since internet goods prices are generally cheaper, that 2.5% fee may be fully offset if people calculate purchase prices carefully, when buying large electrical goods for example.

Several charities have already linked with the card, including Mencap and the Samaritans.

However, Anthony Langan from the Samaritans told the programme that he was still unsure exactly how much financial benefit would come to his organisation as a result.

He said: "We now have affinity cards out there that are helping with charities and we have some connections with that.

"We have to look at getting involved in these things and seeing where it takes us. If it doesn't work out we know that we can withdraw from these relationships."

360 Money says charities should get 25p from each new card account and a few pence from each transaction.

And it said the target is to raise 2million for charities over two years.

BBC Radio 4's Money Box was broadcast on Saturday, 20 May 2006 at 1204 BST.

The programme was repeated on Sunday, 21 May 2006, at 1502 BST.

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