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September 22, 2008

Canadian firms targeting the youth market

Two Canadian reloadable prepaid MasterCard issuers are developing cards to tap the youth market. In October 2008, Calgary-based PlasticNow will launch a card displaying celebrity images which will be available at gas stations and convenience stores.

By Verdict Staff

Two Canadian reloadable prepaid MasterCard issuers are developing cards to tap the youth market.

In October 2008, Calgary-based PlasticNow will launch a card displaying celebrity images which will be available at gas stations and convenience stores. The card, called PlasticNow, will be a rebranded version of the firm’s existing reloadable prepaid MasterCard, MyPlash, which is only available online.

MyPlash cardholders select an image for their card from PlasticNow’s web gallery of sports stars and singers. To reload the card, they have to use PlasticNow’s IVR (interactive voice response) system or set up a bank transfer. Special offers are available for cards affiliated with specific stars.

PlasticNow’s entry into the retail sector is significant, Cal Lloyd, the firm’s CEO, told CI, as currently only a handful of reloadable network-branded cards are available at the point of sale in Canada, such as the MoneyMart Titanium MasterCard and the VanCity enviro Visa card. Initially, the new PlasticNow card will only be offered at the 536 corporately-owned Esso Canada gas stations.

“If the launch with Esso’s corporate stations is a success, we will roll the card out to the 2,300 franchised Esso Canada stations as well as the 10,000 Canadian retail locations in our distributor’s network,” Lloyd said.

The deal with Esso gives the firm exclusivity over other Canadian oil companies for six months.

“People buying and loading money at the point of sale onto a PlasticNow card will initially get a ‘comfort card,’” Lloyd said. “This will allow them to get money from an ATM, but not to make POS purchases.”

New cardholders will also be given a receipt and a PIN, which they use to select the image of their choice either from PlasticNow’s IVR system or its website.

“In 10 days, the cardholder receives their proper card in the mail,” Lloyd said.

Separately, Toronto-based Mint Technology has signed a contract to supply a reloadable prepaid MasterCard to Yep Mobile, a Vancouver firm which develops online games for social network Facebook.

Until now, the only way Yep’s 52,000 members could earn the points needed to play Facebook games has been to watch online ads. But if they apply for Mint’s Facebook card, they earn points every time they make a purchase with the card, Mint president and CEO Chris Hogg told CI.

“If the Facebook card is a success, then we will develop affinity cards for other youth sectors,” Hogg said. “In August, we ran a survey on Facebook for four hours to see if people wanted the card and we had 10,000 hits.”

Mint also offers the MuchMusic reloadable prepaid MasterCard in association with Canadian youth TV channel MuchMusic. The card, which is issued by GE Money, is only available online.

“We are happy with the MuchMusic card,” Hogg said. “We are spending a lot on advertising, and in the run-up to Christmas will promote it on youth TV across Canada.”

Mint also has two contracts signed for prepaid cards in the UK including a MuchMusic card, Hogg added.

Robin Arnfield

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