MasterCard has teamed up with CQR Payment Solutions to launch its rePower service in Europe, enabling customers to use cash to top up pre-paid cards at merchants.
MasterCard rePower will allow pre-paid cardholders a "simple, accessible and secure" way to load cash at merchant locations across Europe via two different models.
The first sees merchants convert cardholders' cash onto a Ukash voucher which can then be redeemed online - at a site to go live next month - by entering a unique code. The money is instantly added to the card.
The second option requires users to hand over their pre-paid card and the cash to be loaded to the merchant. The retailer inserts the card into the POS terminal as if it were a regular purchase transaction and loads it with the money.
For the voucher offering, CQR Payment Solutions will provide acquiring, processing, customer service and a dedicated MasterCard redemption Web site.
Citing research it commissioned earlier this year, MasterCard claims that the European pre-paid market is forecast to be worth $149 billion by 2017. However, the market for cash 'electronification' is fragmented and relies on issuers and programme managers making separate arrangements with merchants directly or through cash load service providers.
MasterCard argues that its rePower service provides a consistent, secure option for cash conversion for cardholders and a new way to attract customers for merchants.
Matt Lanford, head, pre-paid, MasterCard Europe, says: "By enabling cash electronification to take place at a far wider range of merchants, MasterCard is creating a series of environments where pre-paid can be disruptive to the normal flow of cash in our society and where those people bound to cash can take advantage of the security, convenience and control offered by pre-paid."