Carrefour Group, a France-based retailer with operations in Europe, Asia and South America, has launched its first prepaid card through a bank in Romania, the company announced Dec. 27.

The Carrefour MasterCard Prepaid Card, issued by Bucharest-based Raiffeisen Bank S.A., a unit of Austria-based RZB Group, marks the first time a retailer has offered a reloadable prepaid card in Romania, according to a spokesperson for Rev Worldwide, the Austin, Texas-based processor that developed the product’s distribution platform.

Any Romanian resident with valid identification may apply for the card; no bank account or credit check is required, according to Rev Worldwide, a division of Austin-based MPower Labs Inc. The card costs 10 ron (US$3.05 or 2.33 euros). Cardholders pay 6 ron per month after receiving the first month free. Each reload costs 3.65 ron.

When applying, consumers receive a temporary card immediately in the store. The issuer then mails them a personalized card within seven to 10 days.

 Cardholders may purchase and load cash into their prepaid card accounts at any of Carrefour’s 23 Romanian hypermarkets or other Rev locations, Rev Worldwide says. Carrefour also operates 29 supermarkets in Romania. To check their prepaid card account balances, customers must send Carrefour a text message or visit the product’s website.

Cardholders may use their cards anywhere MasterCard debit cards are accepted worldwide, and they may withdraw cash at any Cirrus ATM. There is a fee of 1% of the amount for purchases made with the card outside of Romania. Domestic ATM withdrawals cost 5.50 ron; international ATM withdrawals cost 12.75 ron plus 1% of the amount. There is a fee of 1.25 ron to check the card’s balance at ATMs.

The new product provides Carrefour with a way to extend “card-based privileges and special offers” to more customers, Andreea Mihai, Carrefour Romania marketing director, said in a press release.

Carrefour’s “extensive retail presence” is likely to help the product succeed, Denisa Mateescu, general manager for MasterCard Europe, Romania and the Balkan Region, noted in the release.

Carrefour Group, which bills itself as Europe’s largest retailer and the world’s second-largest, operates more than 15,000 stores in 34 countries. The company also broadly markets a Carrefour MasterCard credit card.

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