/payments

News and resources on payments systems, innovations and initiatives worldwide.
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery: Natwest copies Starling with carers card

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery: Natwest copies Starling with carers card

NatWest, Royal Bank of Scotland and Ulster bank have followed the example set by Starling Bank in launching a companion card which vulnerable customers can give to trusted people to pay for their groceries or other essential items.

To enhance security, the 'carers card' - which can be topped up with £100 every five days - will be associated with the customer’s existing bank account but kept separate on the bank’s systems. The card does not share a PIN or long card number with the customer’s existing debit cards and ATM withdrawals are restricted to £50.

Starling Bank was first to introduce a spare card for vulnerable individuals, launching its 'Connected card' earlier this month. Protected by a PIN and with a balance limit of £200, the card only permits users to spend in-store and not online.

RBS, NatWest and Ulster are claiming a banking first by offering vulnerable customers and those in extended isolation a fee-free cash delivery service to their door, with almost £250,000 delivered to around 750 customers to date since 25 March. Additionally, customers can request a ‘Get Cash’ code that enables a trusted third-party to make ATM withdrawals up to £100 on someone’s behalf from any of the banks' cash amchines.

Les Matheson, CEO, personal banking at NatWest says: "We are committed to finding innovative solutions that keep our customers safe and able to pay for the things they need, when they need them - whether that’s digitally via our app, via this new card, or through cash."

Comments: (3)

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 24 April, 2020, 13:56Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Nothing new under the sun. I worked for Diners Club in the 1980ies and the "companion card" was back then a standard feature. 

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 24 April, 2020, 17:02Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

May not be unique - but nonetheless a good thing in current circumstances. And there appears to no covert customer acquisition angle to undermine the good intentions. 

From a tech perspective, interesting NatWest has moved more or less as quickly as Starling. You'd think they'd have more legacy to overcome.

Michael Fuller
Michael Fuller - None - London 25 April, 2020, 13:13Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Any suggestion that these services have been introduced for “covert customer acquisition” would be somewhat disingenuous, they are there to fill a real need. This NatWest service seems however to imitate the Starling service without its key advantages for customer oversight and control. True, secondary cards have been a feature on credit cards for decades but what was lacking was both true real time information on the spend as it was incurred, the limitation on types of spend and the ability of the customer to turn it off instantly.

Historically secondary cards have often been given to family members not to unrelated individuals whose only connection is via a contract of employment of which they may not be the principal.

Without the ability to see spend as it happens and turn it on and off instantly at will, you are essentially relying on trust not control. I doubt that NatWest have this fully covered and essentially once the card is topped up, the control on spend is limited by value only. The comment by NatWest that “To enhance security, the carers card will be associated with the customer’s existing bank account but kept separate on the bank’s systems” doesn’t give any clue to controls the customer has what information on spend they will have and when. Some clarity from NatWest on this would be welcome.

I am also concerned that by allowing access to cash, as NatWest does, you are potentially placing the carer in an invidious position. It is a key principle of many carer's contracts of employment that they will not handle their client’s cash. To do so could render them liable to dismissal.

Both these services are well intentioned and can be helpful, but any professional carer would be well advised to check carefully with their employer first that using these services is permitted. (Get this in writing from your Employer if their published policy isn’t clear). Those giving access to their money need both to trust the individual they choose and to understand the controls that are in place.

Liability for loss is likely to rest principally with the customer who will often be vulnerable.

 

Trending Stories