Consumer travel is a growing opportunity for prepaid, although it is growing more rapidly overseas than in the United States, according to Bertrand Sosa, president of Rev Worldwide, a payment provider focusing on the underserved market.

Fifty-five percent of travelers do not have an affinity card or are not enrolled in a loyalty program, Sosa says. This means that half of the passengers on each plane don't have access to the airline’s loyalty/rewards program, he says.

Sosa spoke about prepaid opportunities at SourceMedia’s 26th annual Card Forum & Expo in Orlando, Fla. April 22-25.

“It’s not as easy to deliver the promise of prepaid in other countries as it was in the States,” says Sosa. As Rev Worldwide took its prepaid products to other countries, it had trouble dealing with regulatory issues and culturally adapting the product to a certain region, he says.

But prepaid cards geared towards the consumer travel market have been more quickly adopted outside of the U.S. than within, even though the U.S. has one of the largest travel markets.

A prepaid card that combines travel loyalty and debit payments has seen wide adoption in Australia and New Zealand, Sosa says.

Rev Worldwide launched its first prepaid travel product, OneSmart, with Air New Zealand, a national airline, in 2012. The following year, Rev launched another travel product with Virgin Australia, the country’s second-largest airline. The company’s latest program is in partnership with Westpac Banking Corp. in Australia.

Rev Worldwide’s prepaid cards support multi-currency wallets, allowing users to save on foreign currency fees. Users earn one point per $1 they spend overseas, and one point per $2 they spend domestically. And there are no added fees for using the card in other countries like there are with traditional credit and debit products.

“If you provide more to the customer, they’ll surprise you in terms of usage,” Sosa says. Even though some consumers may travel overseas only once a year, providing foreign exchange capabilities can provide a value-add that will keep consumers loyal to a brand, he says.

Consumers can also use a virtual version of the prepaid card on their mobile phone. Sosa says Rev will add real-time offers and coupons to the platform in the future.

It’s not about segmenting consumers into the prepaid category; “soon enough prepaid is going to be an all-purpose account,” Sosa says. 

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