Alliance goes after the unbanked with prepaid MasterCard
From left: Alliance Vice President Robert Chin; Alliance President Peter Chin; Minister of Finance Dr Nigel Clarke; and MasterCard Country Manager Uhriel Bedoya. (Photo contributed).
Alliance Investment Limited on Thursday, launched the island's first prepaid MasterCard at the Courtyard Marriott in New Kingston, with an aim of providing the service for those on the island, who are not in the formal banking system.
The card is expected to become available to the Jamaican public on May 11 through the 50-plus Alliance MoneyGram outlets islandwide, and according to President Peter Chin, Alliance worked for two years on this project, which he described as making them the "guinea pig".
He said over that period, Alliance worked with technocrats, marketing professionals and the Bank of Jamaica (BOJ) for them to work out the various issues and get the right fit for the Jamaican market.
Alliance will afford card users the opportunity to use it through its MoneyGram agents as a means to prevent those individuals leaving, with a bundle of cash.
Other services that the card will for users are: being able to shop in stores at point of sale machines, withdrawing cash from major ATMs, make transfer between cards and pay bills and purchase talk time directly from mobile app.
Individuals do not need a bank account to get an Alliance prepaid MasterCard.
Chin said, "this partnership with MasterCard will help us to serve the unbanked in Jamaica and financial inclusion is one of the goals and objective of this government in particular, and this is the beginning.
"It is for individuals that do not have access to the safety features and convenience that comes with the traditional cards. Most of our Jamaicans, where do they keep their funds, it is under their mattresses. What this will do is move these people to get financial services. There are certain financial institutions that people will be able to walk into, that they didn't have the confidence to go before," he said.
MasterCard's country manager for Jamaica, Uhriel Bedoya, said, "a MasterCard branded plastic gives access to a whole array of global opportunities. For us at MasterCard, financial inclusion, is really a priority. It is not just a way of life, it is a responsibility.
"This is going to change the lives of people who otherwise participate solely with cash. Imagine being able, at least from the government perspective, to have disbursement going directly to prepaid card, for the ability to participate where only credit and debit card could before," Bedoya said.
Minister of Finance and Public Service, Nigel Clarke, said the government is moving to get financial inclusion for everyone. He said one of the avenues which will make it easier, is the National Identification System (NIDS).