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MasterCard launches card customisation services; pre-paid travel card programme

14 November 2005  |  1715 views  |  0 Source: MasterCard International

MasterCard International today introduced MasterCard Card Customization Services (MCCS), a proprietary card design system that allows issuers to offer consumer and small business cardholders the ability to create their own unique credit, debit or prepaid cards.

The service will allow cardholders to upload a personal image, customize the look of the card using simple editing tools, and submit a final design for approval.

MasterCard research illustrates strong levels of consumer and small business interest in the new service. For example, almost 70% of consumers and 85% of small business owners expressed interest in obtaining a customized card. For consumers, 76% of those expressing strong interest would make it their most often used card. For small business owners who expressed strong interest, 33% said they would use the customized card more frequently.

Among consumers, 42% found a customized card to be appealing, 41% considered it to be unique, and 35% stated that a customized card would make them feel special. Consumers who are inclined to use a customized card are more likely to be younger, have larger households, and have children under 18 at home.

Among small business owners, 46% found a customized card to be appealing, 56% said it was innovative, and 46% believe it would convey success. The small business community is particularly interested in this feature as an additional promotional vehicle for their businesses.

"Customization is another way that MasterCard allows cardholders to communicate what is important to them and our research demonstrates that demand for this capability is strong across all audiences.," said Mary Jo Winterer, Group Head, Core Products, MasterCard International. "Recognizing that, MasterCard is committed to developing a suite of payment products that offer cardholders the highest level of choice, flexibility, and personalization. And this customization capability allows innovative MasterCard issuers to deepen their relationships with their cardholders by deepening the cardholders' relationships with their cards."

In addition to the obvious cardholder benefits, MCCS will also provide many benefits to MasterCard customer financial institutions. Most notably, issuers can leverage the offering as part of their activities to promote increased cardholder activation, strengthen current cardholder relationships, and attract new cardholders.

Cardholders of a participating issuer will be offered the option to customize their cards on the issuer's website. The customization functionality is provided via a portal to a MasterCard-hosted website which reflects the issuer's branding and identity standards. MasterCard has also developed Image Administrator software, an application accessed through MasterCard Online that presents images for review and approval. Images are accepted or rejected based on guidelines set by MasterCard and the issuer.

"Particularly for small businesses, customized cards are much more than payment vehicles. When small business cardholders hand over a customized card displaying their logos and products, in effect, they are handing over their business card, emphasizing their brand and communicating their pride in their business," said Bruno Perreault, Group Head, Global Small Business and Mid-Sized Enterprises, MasterCard International. "With this innovation, we at MasterCard continue our commitment to giving small businesses what it takes to differentiate themselves and better compete in the market."

Seperately, MasterCard International and Travelex, the world's largest foreign exchange specialist, today announced a turnkey prepaid travel card program. The move will allow MasterCard banks that participate in the program to offer prepaid, re-loadable MasterCard branded cards to travelers as a more secure and convenient alternative to travelers cheques and cash.

"MasterCard is committed to increasing its prepaid capabilities, and we're very excited about the travel segment as it allows us to play a greater role in fostering a more efficient payment system for both business and leisure travelers," said Scott Galit, Senior Vice President for Global Prepaid Product Development, MasterCard International. "Prepaid cards have emerged as a convenient and secure way to carry money while traveling abroad or in the U.S. This, combined with the strength of MasterCard's global brand and unmatched acceptance network, will provide travelers with a convenient means of payment wherever they are in the world."

The cards are loaded in US Dollars and will be accepted at any of the 23.3 million merchant locations around the world that accept MasterCard branded cards. Cardholders will also be able to withdraw local currency using the MasterCard ATM Network, which is the world's largest with more than 1.1 million ATMs. Remaining balances at the end of a trip can either be left on the card for future use, or refunded to the cardholder.

"We are pleased to collaborate with MasterCard to further position prepaid cards as a smart way for travelers to pay," said Russell Atkinson, Director, E-payments, Travelex. "The combination of our experience in foreign currency exchange and travelers cheques with MasterCard's in-depth understanding of the payments landscape, prepaid expertise, and global brand power make this a compelling product for financial institutions and travelers alike."

MasterCard is seeking to ensure banks have the opportunity to participate in a turnkey program that is easy and affordable to implement, so participating financial institutions will act as agents rather than direct issuers. MetaBank, a leading issuer of prepaid cards, through its Meta Payment Systems division, will serve as the issuer for the program.

"Our work with Travelex is an integral component of expanding our suite of MasterCard prepaid travel product offerings," adds Galit.

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