A new approach to the prepaid market

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A new approach to the prepaid market
Oluşturulma Tarihi: Haziran 09, 2009 00:00

ISTANBUL - Focusing on prepaid services and electronic payment systems, Prepay Solutions aims to make life easier. ’We expect 1 billion euros in turnover in Europe between three channels: banks, retailers and Accor Services,’says Gilles Coccoli, managing director.

Prepay Solutions, a company created by partnership between Accor Services and MasterCard Europe, aims to provide services to companies willing to increase the value to their businesses by making the most of prepaid opportunities.

The firm, created Feb. 10, focuses on prepaid services and electronic payment systems. The term "prepaid" refers to services paid for in advance. Examples include tolls, pay as you go mobile phones and stored-value cards such as gift cards and prepaid credit cards.

"This business embraces everything," Gilles Coccoli, managing director of Prepay Solutions, told Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review in an interview last week. "The prepaid market is fairly new in Europe, though in Britain it’s still strong. Its annual turnover in Europe is 130 billion euros and it is growing fast."

Prepay Solutions has identified six different business areas. "B to C" gifting, as it is called, is giving a gift and creating gift vouchers. The firm’s second area of business is again related to gifts and is called "B to B," referring to gifts for employees, clients or partners. A third is government benefits. It works as the government decides to distribute cash to a certain part of the population, such as assistance in paying for coal or heating products. Another area into which Prepay Solutions is looking to venture is insurance claims, as in many countries reimbursements are made in cash. But Prepay is considering offering a card for that, too. "It is safer, more useful and it can be used on the Web also," Coccoli said. "Prepay Solutions has also created the concept of ’expense management.’ This is made for companies’ and employers who have businesses in foreign countries. With a prepaid card, the employer will have the chance to control employees’ travel expenses."

Different dynamics

"The idea of prepay solutions was already there," Coccoli added. As a former Accor manager, he already knows about the prepaid market. There are already ticket services in restaurants, while gift cards, ticket compliments and expense management are utilized in many Latin American countries. "But we thought to put these prepaid products to use in different dynamics," he said. "This is why they have bought a co-service company in Britain, Prepaid Technologies, which is specialized in retailing gifts. We transformed that company to ’B2B’ prepaid solutions, by partnering with MasterCard, combining the strength of the two companies. We will also combine our know-how, technologies and clients together."

Prepay Solutions will be active in many European countries, from France to Turkey. "We are expecting over 1 billion euros in turnover in Europe between three channels: banks, retailers and Accor Services."

The investment for the business was made by Accor in 2007. Then, MasterCard come onto the scene. Accor Services controls 67 percent of Prepay Solutions, while MasterCard Europe controls 33 percent.

Regarding the global economic crisis, Coccoli said his perspective was positive. "Many retailers are trying to win back their customers, so they are developing new products like gift cards and loyalty cards. This is in our benefit," he told the Daily News. "On the other hand, we see that credit has not been in favor of many people lately. And credit is something that you pay after, this means it always involves a certain amount of risk. For example, in Turkey hypermarkets distribute cards to their customers and when the payment time comes, they encounter problems. Now, they are looking for prepaid cards." Prepaid cards are a way to control spending and sometimes they can even "stop people when they are not supposed to spend more," Coccoli noted.

Prepay Solutions could be even more active in Turkey as it is a developing economy. "That’s why we came here, to see and to research the related infrastructure."
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