Tesco Launches Travel Money Card Online

London, UK 10 September 2008 (AllPayNews) -- Altair Financial Services International Plc (Altair), a market leading supplier of innovative prepaid card and transaction processing solutions and Newcastle Building Society, have launched a MasterCard® prepaid travel card programme for Tesco Personal Finance (TPF), the banking arm of the UK’s largest and world's fourth largest retailer. The Tesco Travel Money Card will join an assortment of financial products already offered by TPF including credit cards, loans, mortgages, savings accounts and insurance.

The launch of the Tesco Travel Money Card represents a watershed moment for the prepaid card industry in Europe. The entry of a leading global retailer to the prepaid card market is expected to set a stirring precedent for other retailers still weighing up the potential of issuing branded prepaid card programmes of their own.

“We want to offer our customers a smart, safe way to access funds abroad,” says Yvonne Byrne from Tesco Personal Finance. “We’re confident that the card is the best value product on the market, and given the rising cost of overseas travel, every little bit helps.”

The card launch is perfectly timed to reach holiday season travellers this summer and Tesco customers planning for their holiday will see Tesco Travel Card branding on the Tesco website and in-store throughout the UK.

“We are delighted that Tesco, Britain’s largest supermarket chain, is entering the prepaid card market with Altair. This is an exciting product from the retail perspective and adds to Altair’s innovative product set,” comments Lee Britton, CEO at Altair. "The team at Tesco Personal Finance have a firm grasp of the travel and retail market dynamics. Combined with Altair’s experience in delivering award winning prepaid card solutions, we are confident that the Tesco prepaid card program will be a resounding success.”

“Tesco’s move to enter the prepaid space will significantly contribute to general market awareness of network branded prepaid cards in the UK. It's also unlikely that Tesco will be the last major brand to enter this area of the market, with similar deals looking likely before the year end,” said Britton.

Kriya Patel, Head of Card Solutions at Newcastle Building Society commented, “We are delighted to be able to issue the Tesco MasterCard prepaid card in conjunction with Altair on behalf of Tesco Personal Finance, which enables them to become more flexible and respond to the changing needs of their customers. In the height of this year’s holiday season this Prepaid Travel Money Card couldn’t be more suited to everyone travelling abroad this summer.”

Available in Euro and US Dollar currency, the Tesco Prepaid Travel Money Card is designed to increase the security and ease of taking money abroad. The Tesco Travel Money Card provides a modern replacement for travellers’ cheques and excess foreign currency, and also acts as a buffer between the customer and their bank account, protecting their account from fraudsters.

The Tesco Travel Money Card has no fees associated with card application, no fees and 0% commission on all card loads, no fees for purchases at Point of Sale (POS)1 and together with competitive exchange rates, Tesco have created a very attractive consumer offering. Customers will also benefit by receiving 100 Clubcard Points when loading their card for the first time. As an added bonus, customers can opt to receive a free secondary emergency card, which can be used in the event the primary card is lost or stolen.

The card program will make use of the Altair Mobile Payment System (AMPS), which provides cardholders with a range of self-service card management tools by simply using their mobile phone. After the cardholder associates their mobile phone with their prepaid card, they can send mobile SMS (text) messages to load their card and check their balance. As an added security feature, AMPS can be used to ‘lock’ and ‘unlock’ the card. When locked using AMPS, the card can not be used at point of sale or to withdraw cash at ATMs, and thus prevent any unauthorised use.

The card is accepted in over 26 million locations worldwide using Euros or US Dollars and can be blocked and unblocked free of charge. With this added flexibility the Tesco Travel Money Prepaid Card offers additional peace of mind to all holidaymakers travelling abroad.

The product website is available: http://www.tesco.com/

1 No fees for purchases via POS where the currency on the card and the currency of the transaction is the same

For further information please contact:
Altair Financial Services International Plc Newcastle Building Society
Steven Phillips Nicola Green
0207 659 1178 0191 244 2024

About Tesco Personal Finance
Tesco Personal Finance is a telephone and internet based commercial bank in the United Kingdom and is a 50:50 joint venture between Tesco, the UK's largest supermarket and the Royal Bank of Scotland, the fifth largest bank in the world. It is registered in Scotland at St Andrew's Square, Edinburgh.

About Newcastle Building Society
Newcastle Building Society is the biggest building society based in the North East and one of the strongest mutual building societies in the country. With assets under management of over £4.8bn we are certainly large enough to cope but small enough to care deeply about the needs of our members.
The Newcastle Building Society is committed to remaining mutual and by doing so we feel we are better placed to continue to provide our investors with the quality of service expected from one of the country’s strongest building societies.
Newcastle Building Society has over 90 live prepaid and debit card programmes including:
- Debit cards
- Retail gift cards
- Teen cards
- Travel cards
- Corporate incentive cards
- Payroll and Payroll Plus cards

The Society is a MasterCard® Principal Member, with the most MasterCard® approved prepaid programmes in the UK. We hold a SEPA licence and have live programmes in the UK, Ireland, Germany, Belgium and Italy. www.nssl.info

About Altair
About Altair Financial Services International Plc (www.altair-financial.com)
Altair Financial Services International Plc was incorporated in 2005 as a global provider of Prepaid Card solutions with enhanced functionality. Altair acquired established transaction processing company, Symmetrex, Inc. in March 2007. Altair is headquartered in London with banking and processing relationships in UK, USA, Asia Pacific and throughout the Latin America and Caribbean regions and issues on behalf of MasterCard® and Visa.

Altair solutions are designed to be flexible enough to provide companies with almost any type of prepaid card functionality, including open and closed loop programs. Through its relationship with MasterCard® all Altair cards issued in Europe are based on Chip & PIN technology and are EMV standards compliant. Altair is a certified issuer and transaction processor of contactless (MasterCard® PayPass™) prepaid cards in the United Kingdom.
For more information, visit www.altair-financial.com