Paysafecard Group has added an online payment option that eliminates the need for users of the prepaid cards to enter PIN codes for each purchase.

Austria-based Paysafecard now offers an online account that allows users to combine their Paysafecard PINs and make purchases with only a unique user name and password, says Ludger Voetz, a London-based spokesman for Paysafecard.

Paysafecard has operated for more than a decade on a system in which consumers can purchase Paysafecard vouchers in various denominations (in a country's currency) at grocery stores, gas stations or Paysafecard kiosks in 33 countries.

Consumers then use a 16-digit PIN that comes with each voucher to complete a transaction at a participating gaming company's website or other online merchant. Paysafecard debits the amount paid for goods and services from the voucher's balance.

"Paysafecard is not linked to a bank account," Voetz says. "The customer simply buys the vouchers in the desired denomination."

Paysafecard, which was purchased by Skrill two weeks ago, allows customers to make payments without leaving a name or card data with an online merchant, Voetz says.

The new "my paysafecard" service is an online account, much like a digital wallet," Voetz adds. "The user would still add money to the account by adding Paysafecard PINs."

Shoppers have the option of paying in the traditional method with a new PIN each time, or through the "my paysafecard" account, he adds.

Registration for an account is free, requiring only an e-mail account and mobile phone number. Customers pay no fees the first 12 months after the purchase of a PIN voucher, after which Paysafecard deducts a £2 monthly fee ($3.07 U.S.) from the account.

While online account management tools are not new to the European market, the prepaid card has found its niche, says Gareth Lodge, a London-based industry analyst with Celent.

"Prepaid has a role to play," Lodge says. "In Austria, there are typically three times as many debit cards as credit cards, and that is a potential barrier for e-commerce because of the fear of fraud."

Paysafecard's PIN method and prepaid system fills that gap, Lodge says. "This new online account operates as a virtual bank account."

Because Skrill already has a prepaid card, Lodge views the Paysafecard announcement as "a consolidation play."

Paysafecard has launched the online account service in Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Greece, UK, Ireland, Latvia, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Austria, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Sweden, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Czech Republic and Cyprus.
More than two years ago, Paysafecard brought its product to the U.S. through Bancorp Bank in an attempt to establish itself as an option for the growing online gaming market.

U.S. customers can pay with Paysafecard PINs at a wide range of online games providers, but the new online account option has not been introduced to the U.S. market yet, Voetz says.

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