A unique partnership that brings together major players in Kosovo is opening the door to the financial mainstream for Kosovars. Today, partners IPKO, Raiffeisen Bank, Better Served Kosovo and RêvEurope introduced the country’s first prepaid cards. For the first time, young, cash-based and mobile Kosovars can enjoy the freedom and security of spending with plastic and the ability to send money domestically, top up their IPKO mobile phone accounts or check balances with a simple text message, no bank account required.
Commenting on the launch, Jean-Marc Tonti, Visa Inc. general manager, SEE and CIS, said: “We are delighted to support the first pre-paid card in Kosovo and would like to congratulate all the organisations involved in developing such an innovative programme. It is of particular importance for the Kosovan market as it will contribute to increasing electronic payments in the country and bring more people into the banking sector and the formal economy – a stated governmental priority.”
The Visa Prepaid Card allows customers who buy and load cash on the card to shop online, make purchases in the 28 million merchant outlets where Visa cards are accepted and withdraw cash from 1.4 million ATMs in more than 200 countries and territories worldwide. With free e-banking capabilities, cardholders can manage their accounts online at www.ipkocard.com. Raiffeisen Bank issues the IPKO Visa Prepaid Card.
Raiffeisen Bank customers will also have the ability to top up IPKO mobile minutes from their mobile phones as a feature offered with the Raiffeisen Bank Visa Prepaid Card, which Raiffeisen Bank is also launching in Kosovo today.
“As a homegrown company that’s been connecting Kosovars to one another and to the world since 1999 as part of our mission to lift living standards and provide opportunities, it gives us great pride to be the first to connect unbanked Kosovars to the financial mainstream,” said Akan Ismaili, IPKO’s chief executive officer. “Better Served Kosovo and RêvEurope contribute deep knowledge of alternative payments and consumers who are new to financial services, and Raiffeisen Bank is a respected and trusted financial institution throughout the region.”
“Raiffeisen Bank owes its reputation in Kosovo and the broader region to its commitment to delivering innovative products and services when and where our customers want them,” said Shpend Nura, Head of Product Management and Development Department, Raiffeisen Bank. “We see tremendous interest in Kosovo for flexible, safe and accessible cash alternatives and are proud to join our partners in introducing these pioneering solutions.”
RêvEurope developed, promotes and provides the distribution and processing platform jointly with Better Served Kosovo for the IPKO Visa Prepaid Card and independently for the Raiffeisen Bank Visa Prepaid Card. Through a global agreement with MPOWER Mobile, a sister company, RêvEurope powers the cards’ integrated YAP mobile service that enables their mobile money transfer and mobile top-up capabilities.
“Better Served Kosovo is extremely fortunate to be involved with a group of partners who are committed to developing innovative payment solutions that address the needs of Kosovar consumers,” said Martin Davis, managing partner of Better Served Kosovo. “Our combined goal is to make payments more efficient for consumers, businesses and governments as Kosovo moves from a cash-based economy to electronic payments.”
“Kosovo is a country that’s brimming with optimism and entrepreneurial energy, a new country with a young population that’s open to new opportunities and new ways of doing things – we’re confident Kosovars will embrace this new way to pay,” said John Mitchell, chief executive officer of RêvEurope. (cc)