MasterCard Inc. and The Western Union Co. are expanding their roles in the fast-growing prepaid card market by making it easier for customers to use their reloadable cards globally.
The prepaid card market has boomed in the past five years, according to WashingtonPost.com. Last year, consumers in the United States loaded more than $40 billion onto prepaid cards.
Western Union began issuing MasterCard branded prepaid cards last year in the United States. The new initiative will allow the companies to offer the cards internationally, according to BusinessWeek.com.
The goal is to enable consumers in more than 200 countries to load money into prepaid card accounts and to wire that money around the world and, in many places, use prepaid cards for purchases.
In order to meet this goal, MasterCard’s processing networks will have to be linked with Western Union’s distribution network, which includes 485,000 agents across the globe.
The move follows MasterCard CEO Ajay Banga’s recent announced plan to target developing financial markets throughout the world. Eighty-five percent of the world’s transactions still take place in cash.
The Western Union network will help address one big challenge in developing markets, because there are often few places that handle cards for payments or cash advances in remote locations, Banga said, according to WashingtonPost.com.