Banco do Brasil, i2c Kick off Partnership with Student GPR Card (February 2013)
By Adam Perrotta, Assistant Editor
Recent months have seen the release of a spate of payment products targeted for use by Brazilians, whose country is rapidly emerging as a hotbed of financial services development. More than half of the country’s population of more than 200 million is underbanked, according to a MasterCard and Euromonitor study. Those demographics—combined with a $2.3 trillion gross domestic product that ranks seventh in the world and governmental support for new payment products—have led many financial institutions to view the nation as a prime opportunity.
One such entity is Banco do Brasil Americas, a Florida-based subsidiary of Brasilia-headquartered Banco do Brasil. The bank is teaming with payments processor i2c Inc. to release a new line of payment products, and the collaboration is kicking off with a prepaid card targeted for use by Brazilian students attending college in the United States and other countries. Students are able to receive scholarship and other benefit disbursements directly onto the MasterCard-branded GPR cards, which are available now, and subsequently make purchases and withdraw cash at ATMs.
Loading scholarship disbursements directly onto the card benefits students as well as the agencies distributing the funds, both of whom can avoid an often lengthy and complicated process of transferring funds internationally. “This program is a win for all parties,” says Pamela Kohl, executive vice president, products and channels, Banco do Brasil Americas. “For the scholarship agencies, it simplifies and streamlines the disbursement process because they no longer need to cut a check and mail it to the student in Brazil. For students, it saves time and money while providing quicker access to funds,” Kohl tells Paybefore.
Cardholders have the option of creating multiple “purses” in eight different currencies on their card accounts. When a purchase is made, the location of the transaction is detected and funds are withdrawn from the appropriate currency purse. “The card’s multicurrency functionality enables scholarship agencies to load directly to the card in the local currency, which saves the agencies time while eliminating check cashing, wire transfer and currency conversion fees for students,” says Miguel Cintron, vice president of business development, i2c.
MasterCard projects Brazil’s prepaid market will grow to $17 billion by 2017, from just $1.7 billion in 2009. The payment network has been involved in many recent prepaid launches there, including a GPR card from Rêv Worldwide and Brazilian bank Bonsucesso Group, along with a new mobile-based prepaid product due in April from MasterCard and Telefónica’s MFS joint venture, targeting underbanked Brazilians.
“Given the growth trajectory of prepaid and the bank’s growth goals,” notes Kohl, “Banco do Brasil Americas is uniquely positioned to take advantage of new prepaid opportunities in multiple markets.” She adds that the bank is currently looking into launching additional products, including benefit disbursement, tourist, payroll and teen cards.