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Central Bank of India next week will begin issuing a "virtual" prepaid MasterCard to take advantage of India's growing appetite for the Internet. The Mumbai-based bank is issuing the Rev MasterCard Virtual Card, which consists of a card number that enables shoppers to securely shop online, bank officials say. Online commerce is growing rapidly in India, according to ComScore Inc., a Reston, Va.-based market-research company. Twenty-eight million consumers in India logged on to the Internet in 2008, up 27% compared with 2007. Individuals also can use the virtual card to make purchases by telephone or by mail order. Central Bank of India is issuing the product in partnership with Rev Worldwide, an Austin, Texas-based business that is part of a portfolio of companies owned by Roy Sosa, founder of prepaid card marketer NetSpend Inc., Meredith DeSpain Kelsey, spokesperson for Rev Worldwide, tells ATM&Debit News, a CardLine sister publication. Sosa is chairman of Rev Worldwide, which includes a portfolio of investments called MPower Ventures. The Rev MasterCard Virtual Card will be available at Central Bank of India's 3,500 branches and at selected retail outlets across India, Kelsey says. Once an individual purchases the product, he receives a voucher number and a PIN code via a mobile phone text message or a printed receipt. The cardholder uses the PIN to activate the card information. Users must load a minimum of 500 rupees (US$10.81) to a maximum of 50,000 rupees (US$1,081) into the prepaid account, Kelsey says.

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