The Prepaid International Forum, a London trade group, has introduced an accreditation program for prepaid card offerings.

Demand for such a program has come from its member companies, which "are sensitive to the concerns expressed in adverse media coverage about prepaid such as alleged money laundering, aggressive marketing and poor customer service," the association said.

The group said it wants to "create an international standard for growth in prepaid commerce," to "ensure industry best practice in prepaid products and to enhance confidence amongst prepaid users."

Companies that meet the group's standards will be licensed to use its accreditation symbol on any marketing materials, the forum said.

The trade group said it "retains the right to review and withdraw accreditation and will carry out an annual audit of accredited" prepaid card programs.

For now the accreditation is only for the group's 40 members, but it will be offered to nonmembers "in due course," the forum said.

Chris Reddish, the trade group's chairman, said in a press release issued Wednesday that "as the demand for prepaid services gathers pace, it is essential that the industry takes the lead in establishing and policing the levels of service necessary to underpin consumer confidence and the continued growth of prepaid."

The group was founded in June of last year. Its members are card issuers, program managers and vendors.

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