MasterCard Inc. and the French hotel and voucher company Accor SA have created a joint venture to boost the use of electronic payments and tap Europe's growing prepaid services market.
The two companies announced the new company, PrePay Solutions, on Tuesday.
Accor, which saw revenue in its prepaid services operations grow 10.5% in 2008, to $1.3 billion, is to hold a 67% stake. MasterCard's European unit is to own the remaining 33%.
The companies said they expect Europe's prepaid market to generate transaction volume of $168 billion by 2015.
"With our partners we think we can target 5% of the market, so that means an issuing volume in 2015 between $7.7 billion and $9 billion," Accor's chief executive, Gilles Pelisson, said in an interview Tuesday on the French radio station BFM.
"It's an ambitious but attainable goal," Mr. Pelisson said later at a press conference. The joint venture has no plan to expand outside Europe, the companies said.
Analysts welcomed the initiative but said this market's growth potential is uncertain.
"Accor is pursuing the right strategy as it's an initiative that involves limited capital investment, hence there is no real downside for Accor," said Simon Champion, an analyst at Deutsche Bank. "But the upside potential of this market is unknown." He has rated Accor a "buy."
The two companies did not disclose financial details, but Serge Ragozin, the chief executive of Accor's services unit, said the overall investment in the venture was "several millions of euros, not more."
Accor, which offers prepaid vouchers for meals, gifts, and child care, said a key component of the venture will be PrePay Technologies, a U.K. subsidiary that Accor bought in 2007.
The companies said that, in addition to seeking its own customers, PrePay Solutions will develop products for Accor Services' corporate and government clients and for MasterCard's banking clients.