Prepaid cards

EPAY launches prepaid card programme

Panama-based payment service provider EPAY has launched a prepaid
card service allowing companies around the world to conduct
business transactions using prepaid cards with no foreign exchange
conversion fees.


The scheme, aimed at international companies, will save users
around three percent per transaction, which is the standard cost of
conversion. Users of the EPAY service can pay merchants, employees,
clients or affiliates. Prices for the cards start
at $4.99 and each card has a $10,000 limit. The EPAY
MasterCard prepaid debit card can be used worldwide at ATMs, point
of sale locations, and online anywhere MasterCard is accepted, such
as PayPal, eBay, Google, Alertpay, Neteller and Moneybookers.


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“This card programme is ideal for international companies. It saves
our clients lots of money due to low transaction fees, and gives
wide recognition, as co-branded, and white-label programmes are
also possible,” said a spokesperson for EPAY.


Financial results

MasterCard reports Latin America growth


Global payments network MasterCard has posted increased growth
in both its credit and debit divisions in the Latin America and the
Caribbean region.


During the first quarter of 2009, MasterCard recorded purchase
volume in Latin America and the Caribbean of $20 billion, up 10.4
percent compared to the same period in 2008. The number
of MasterCard -branded cards in the region increased 14.4
percent in the first quarter of 2009, to 116 million cards, and the
Maestro brand mark appeared on 129 million cards, up 12.8 percent
compared to the first quarter of 2008.


Richard Hartzell, president, MasterCard Latin America and
Caribbean region, said: “For MasterCard’s Latin America and
Caribbean region, electronic payments remain a vital driver for
commerce. Despite the current economic environment, the secular
shift to electronic payments over cash and cheques continues, with
debit increasingly becoming a priority product.” 


Financial results

Banco Do Brasil shows drop in profits


Banco do Brasil, Brazil’s largest public sector-controlled bank,
has revealed a first-quarter profit drop of 29 percent compared to
the same period in 2008.


The bank blamed the slump partially on an increase in bad debt
provisioning, reduced lending growth and the general malaise in the
economy. Net income sank to BRL1.67 billion ($793.3 million) from
BRL2.35 billion in the first quarter of 2008, while recurring
profit, which excludes extraordinary gains, fell 12.9 percent to
BRL1.36 billion.


The total credit portfolio at the institution reached BRL254
billion, up 41.3 percent from the first quarter of 2008, while
return on equity, or ROE, fell to 23.8 percent at the end of the
first quarter, down from 43.5 percent the year before.


Despite these results, the bank has recently said it is to increase
funds available for lending to individual borrowers by BRL13
billion ($6.43 billion), stating that with the additional credit,
it will be able to raise credit limits for 10 million


Financial results

Visa payments volume up 27 percent in Latin America in


Visa payments volume on all Visa products in the Latin America and
the Caribbean region grew 27 percent over the previous year to $193
billion for the year ending on 31 December 2008. The total number
of Visa transactions in the area reached 5 billion, while the
number of Visa-branded cards reached 340 million.

“Joint efforts among Visa and its clients are driving greater
access to electronic payments, resulting in more usage of payment
cards over cash and cheques,” said Eduardo Eraña, president of Visa
Latin America and Caribbean region. “More importantly, amid this
challenging economy, we see the increasing value of our debit
products, on which consumers rely more to manage their budget and
increase convenience, reliability and security.”

Visa stated that its strategy in the region to increase debit card
activation and migrate transactions to the point of sale played a
key role in the growth, while the increased number of payment
transactions was led by growth in non-discretionary spending at the
point-of-sale by consumers in key areas such as gas stations,
supermarkets, fast food restaurants, healthcare and recurring


Mexico World Bank debt may break $10 billion


Mexico’s total debt with the World Bank could increase to $11
billion by 2011, according to a statement by the World Bank.


The country, currently already indebted by $6.33 billion to the
institution, could increase its debts to between $10 and $11
billion due its policy of increasingly heavy borrowing in an
attempt to avert the problems caused by the current economic


The estimates include a $5 billion loan package for this year, and
means the country is now sixth in the world in how much it owes the
World Bank, just behind China, Brazil, Turkey, India and


Despite this, Robert Zoellick, president of the World Bank, said
the area was faring better than most. “What began with a big
financial crisis and has become a profound economic crisis is
drifting today towards a crisis of unemployment. Latin America has
remained reasonably stable, even if Mexico and Central America are
under pressure because they rely a lot on the North American


Payment solutions

Central Banco Universal adopts Software AG credit


Software AG, the world’s largest independent provider of business
infrastructure software, has announced that Central Banco
Universal, a leading regional bank in Venezuela, has chosen
Software AG’s webMethods business process management suite to
improve its credit card claims process.


The software means that Central Banco Universal has automated its
credit card claims processes in its 85 branches. The system will
also allow the bank to comply with new regulations affecting the
financial services industry.

With the software, the bank is also able to prioritise and process
claims and tasks in a more organised way, controlling all claims,
from start to finish and significantly improving its service to

“We chose Software AG because it is a leading company in business
process management technology. Their experience and costs were very
important to us and were determining factors in making this
decision”, stressed Roberto Del Pino, quality and process manager
of Central Banco Universal.