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Western Union Co. is conducting a test during which U.S. consumers can deliver overnight to locations in the United States a Visa-branded prepaid card recipients may use to access transferred funds. The service, which Western Union is testing in St. Louis and soon will do so in Kansas City, Mo., is designed to bring funds-transfer services to more consumers, Michael Hafer, the company's vice president of U.S. product management, tells ATM&Debit News, a CardLine sister publication. "It also allows us to provide our recipients with a great financial tool when it comes to spending and managing their money," he says. Western Union is touting recipient convenience with its MoneyWise card, which is different from the company's general-purpose reloadable prepaid card, Hafer says, noting recipients have the option to upgrade the MoneyWise card to a reloadable product. Sending the prepaid card is similar to how standard Western Union funds transfers are done. Senders still must visit an agent location. But instead of also requiring recipients to go to an agent location, senders can opt to load the funds into a MoneyWise account and send the recipients the prepaid card to access the funds. The sender pays a one-time Federal Express Corp. overnight-delivery fee of $9.95 plus an overnight home-delivery fee of $9.99 for transfers up to $200. With the prepaid card, the sender is paying for the convenience of the recipient receiving the card, Hafer says. Receivers activate the card by phone, and they can use that call to upgrade to a reloadable card. There is no fee to upgrade the card. "It's the delivery mechanism that really makes the service a lot more convenient for both senders and receivers," Hafer says. "With this service, we take the burden off the recipient to find an agent location." Card rates are comparable with sending a standard funds transfer, in which Western Union charges $9.99 for up to a $200 next-day transfer. MoneyWise cardholders pay nothing to conduct purchases. Comparatively, holders of Western Union's general-purpose reloadable card pay 99 cents per purchase. And MoneyWise cardholders pay $1 per ATM withdrawal fee; holders of the general-purpose card pay $2.


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