Saturday 29 July 2006

Pre-paid credit cards arrive in Australia

Nice to see a bit of disruption in the Australian banking sector with the recent launch of what is claimed to be Australia's first pre-paid credit card - the Bopo pre-paid Visa card from Bill Express can be ordered online and then topped up at 3,500 newsagents.

But I find it strange that there doesn't appear to be any other way topping up the card other than going physically into a newsagent. Considering two of the proposed benefits are "To keep your bank account separate when you buy online" and "Convenient Internet-only statements" the reality is it looks more like a product for non-online consumers. For example, Visa's pre-paid Buxx card (available in the US) appears to offer more top up options.

Reviews of the new pre-paid credit card early in the year by consumer credit advocates (as reported in the Sydney Morning Herald) also suggested that when you look at the fees and features, a traditional bank debit card might offer better value and more flexability.

Still, its a good example of how technology can help to disrupt existing markets.

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