US-based Blackhawk Network has launched a Canadian virtual prepaid card for business rewards, in collaboration with Mastercard.

Canadian businesses that usually provide incentives can offer the prepaid cards to customers or staff as a reward. The cards can range in value from as little as $1 or up to $999 and can be spent internationally.

Chris Jones, VP of digital services and incentives at Blackhawk Network, said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has driven more Canadians to actively shop online. In fact, our research conducted before many shelter-in-place mandates were announced found that one third of Canadians were making online purchases more often than they did a year ago—and that number is likely higher now.”

“Strategic advantage” 

Jones continued: “For Canadian businesses that manage incentives programmes, offering virtual rewards like our new virtual prepaid Mastercard can provide a strategic advantage. People want to enjoy their rewards and they want to redeem them via the shopping channels they use most often—virtual rewards satisfy both of these preferences.

“They can also be ordered, delivered and redeemed quickly, which provides reinforcement for the behaviour that led to the reward in the first place and helps drive future desired behaviours.”

Companies ordering the cards can include tailored email verbiage for recipients in addition to their logo or a branded banner featured in the reward’s delivery email.

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Customers and staff can redeem the virtual prepaid cards via contactless online experiences where Mastercard is accepted. However, they can also opt for a physical card if they wish to.

In Q4 of 2020, Blackhawk Network enhanced its gift card offering after acquiring North American card and prepaid technology firm National Gift Card (NGC).

The move enabled the payments company to bolster its prepaid and gift card offerings. As part of the deal, Blackhawk’s digital incentive solutions and expanded catalog of brands and original content were extended to NGC’s customers.