MasterCard has launched a pre-paid plastic payment card aimed at the two million UK households that don't have a bank account.
The card company teamed with Advanced Payment Solutions in the UK to launch the Cashplus card, which can be loaded with funds and used to make purchases over the Internet, as well as in high street stores, and for withdrawing cash at ATMs.
The 'pay as you go' card is currently only available at a select number of retailers, mainly targeting immigrant communities, but cardholders may soon also be able to top up the cards at Post Office branches across the country.
Users will have to pay a one-off issue and monthly subscription fee and will also be charged £2.00 eveytime they use their card to withdraw cash at an ATM.
Independent commentator Moneyfacts says the potential to save money by buying goods online may make the fees seem a fair price to pay for some financial independence.
There are thought to be around 1.4 billion pre-paid cards in circulation in the US, where the market has been fuelled by immigrants and people with poor credit histories.
Earlier this year MBNA Europe launched a pre-paid Visa card that can be used at shops in Manchester's Trafford shopping centre.