The Post Office is preparing to launch a prepaid card system for the “financially excluded” – and has £90 million available for the contractor that can deliver it.
The plan comes amid concerns that bank branch closures are accelerating, as are ATM closures, often leaving the most vulnerable without easy access to financial services.
“Post Office is running this procurement process to identify and contract with a single supplier to deliver a pre-paid card solution that includes a physical card backed by a transactional account with digital app and web portal”, the Post Office said.
“The solution is primarily intended to target the under-banked and financially excluded and end users struggling with or wanting to take control of their budgeting.”
Post Office has a clear view of the product proposition, both for initial launch but also for development, the notice explains.
The Post Office expects the supplier to “work with us in developing features from the product roadmap.”
The supplier needs to be financially regulated and hold a valid e-money license. The service, meanwhile, must (as a minimum) include account opening maintenance and operation of accounts, card fulfilment, card acquiring, issuing and management, a contact centre for customer servicing, and management information provision.
Post Office Prepaid Card Follows Exclusion Fears…
The contract comes as policymakers continue to raise concerns about social exclusion caused by an ongoing mass-closure of bank branches and ATMs.
Santander was the latest to announce branch closures, saying last month it was shutting 140 branches. ATM closures, meanwhile, have been estimated at 300 per month.
A 2017 report by the House on Lords Select Committee on Financial Exclusion emphasised the importance of the Post Office for access to financial services.
“The Post Office has more physical outlets than all the high street banks combined… The trend towards a growing number of bank branch closures is contributing towards financial exclusion, particularly for vulnerable customers who experience difficulties accessing alternative services.”
“The Post Office, with its extensive branch network, has the potential to meet the needs of such customers. This potential is currently unrealised, due to low levels of public awareness of the financial services available through Post Offices. It is essential that the Government, and the banking sector, do more to promote and support the role that can be played by the Post Office in providing access to physical banking services.
The five-year contract will be extendable by a further two years. Interested vendors need to apply by March 22, a contract announcement posted today said.