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.

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“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