Western Union Financial Services Inc., a subsidiary of First Data Corp., and Revelation America, a company backed by the country's five largest African-American churches, introduced a co-branded MasterCard Wednesday for people who lack bank accounts or credit cards.
The card, which charges an annual fee of $50 and a monthly maintenance fee of $5.50, functions as a prepaid debit card that works by signature and personal identification number. Customers may use the card at any site that accepts MasterCard and at automated teller machines and merchants in the Cirrus and MAC networks.
Cash can be deposited into the account at any Western Union agency, and cardholders can have their paychecks rolled into the account by direct deposit.
Western Union and Revelation America introduced the card at the Progressive National Baptist Convention in Louisville, Ky. John Lowery, founder, executive vice president, and 30% owner of Revelation America, said the product would extend financial services to the 30 million Americans without credit cards or bank accounts, who "are being left behind in the information revolution."
Consumers are able to use the card to pay for everyday goods such as gas and groceries, but executives hope that over time the cards will also help open the doors to electronic commerce.
Lanny Byars, senior vice president of First Data Debit Services, which manages the Western Union Cash Card program, said the partnership "allows us to help people buy goods and services and shop on the Internet." Mr. Lowery said the card is not only as a money management tool for credit-challenged consumers but also as an entry into the World Wide Web.
MemphisFirst Community Bank, a state-chartered African-American-owned bank, is the principal issuer. Jim Sills, president and chief executive officer of the bank, said that the new card provides "a largely underserved market" with two important features: "the safety of a noncash environment and the savings of time."