EMAP magazines to roll out branded pre-paid debit cards

Teenagers are being urged to spend with plastic rather than cash, with the launch of branded pre-paid debit cards. Bliss, Smash Hits! and Match magazines are among five EMAP brands launching Europe’s first “reloadable” pre-paid debit cards.

EMAP is also targeting its older audiences with a Magic FM-branded card, which consumers will be able to use abroad, and there will also be a Max Power-branded card. It is understood that further EMAP-branded cards will be launched soon.

The cards have been developed between EMAP and Bluecorner, a Chester-based pre-paid payment card provider, and Mastercard’s Maestro brand. It is part of a worldwide deal to link EMAP brands with debit cards.

The cards are being backed by through-the-line marketing campaigns, with ads appearing in magazines and on their websites, while the Magic FM card will be trailed on air.

Bluecorner, the consumer brand arm of Affinity Cards Limited, was founded in September last year to capitalise on the expected popularity of pre-paid cards.

The cards are “virtual wallets” and are bought in the same way as mobile phone top-up vouchers or London Underground’s Oyster cards, allowing controlled amounts of money to be available at any one time.

Bluecorner chief executive Mark Kennedy says the cards, which must be purchased by an adult, will give teenagers the freedom to budget their money and parents the ability to keep tabs on their spending online and top up with cash. He says under-18s have previously been locked out of “safe” and “secure” internet purchasing because they are not eligible for credit cards.

The pre-paid debit market, which accounted for four per cent of all spending in the US over Christmas, is growing. Mastercard launched Cashplus, a pre-paid card for migrants and un-banked households last summer.

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