Visa’s prepaid products are uniquely suited to allow individuals to access pre-funded pools of funds to make purchases, pay bills and receive direct deposits. These products also play an important role in expanding access to mainstream financial services and serving the financial needs of consumers worldwide.
Prepaid cards already have been shown as one way to reach and engage with those who do not yet have — or who may not want to have — a permanent bank account. For example, Visa and our clients have worked with government agencies to switch from paper-based distribution of benefits to electronic means, such as prepaid cards, for everything from child support to unemployment to emergency disaster relief to welfare funds.
Visa has thousands of prepaid programs in 60-plus countries today. A few highlights of how Visa’s prepaid products are contributing to financial inclusion include:
- In South Africa, where 40 percent of the population is unbanked, the leading national bank — Absa Bank — established the country’s first reloadable, general-use prepaid card. This Visa-branded product is giving working families their first experience of the security that comes with electronic payments.
- In the Dominican Republic, the Social Subsidies Administration used to provide physical delivery of aid to some of its neediest citizens in the form of products like rice, cooking oil and fuel. The government shifted its distribution, now delivering funds in the form of a Visa prepaid card — the Solidarity Card — so recipients can control how and when they purchase the essential goods they need. The Solidarity Card serves the underserved by providing distribution for a host of critical benefits, including unemployment, benefits for the elderly, school lunches, funds for subsidies to buy gasoline for vehicles and for nutrition assistance programs.
- In the United States, the governments of more than 40 states are using Visa prepaid cards to disburse child support, unemployment or other benefits to their citizens. Many of the recipients are underserved by the financial system and traditionally had been receiving paper checks and, thus, reliant on high-fee check-cashing locations.
- In Pakistan, Visa worked with the Pakistan government to issue approximately 250,000 Visa prepaid debit cards through United Bank Limited (UBL) to internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the country. The cards, loaded monthly with government assistance funding, will benefit 1.4 million people and create a direct pathway to a formal banking relationship.