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New Westpac Card Saves Pacific Peoples Money

Media Release

1 December 2008

New Westpac Card Saves Pacific Peoples Money

For years, New Zealand residents with family living in the Pacific have paid dearly to send money back to the Islands. Westpac New Zealand Ltd has a new ‘Express’ prepaid card that can make the process a lot easier and cheaper.

Today Westpac launches the new Westpac Express Visa Prepaid Card that enables Pacific peoples to send money home to nominated family members without paying large money transfer fees.

By accessing a Westpac ATM in the Islands and based on an average remit of $200, the cost to send money home will be just 3 percent of the amount sent overseas. Costs are currently anywhere between 15 and 25 percent of the value of the transaction for telegraphic transfers.

The Westpac Express Visa Prepaid Card was designed in line with the new Financial Transactions Reporting (Interpretation) Regulations 2008, which means financial institutions don’t have to verify the identity of the second cardholder of cards like the Westpac Express Visa Prepaid Card, as long as certain conditions are met:

• the balance of the card must be no greater than $9,999

• the value of withdrawals from the card over a 12-month period must total less than $9,999

• only funds loaded on the card are available for use

• the financial institution monitors the transactions on the card.

Two cards are issued – one for the owner in New Zealand and one to be sent to a nominated person in the Pacific Islands. The owner tops up the New Zealand card with funds, either at the bank, online or by phone, and sends a second card to a nominated family member in the Pacific Islands, where they can use the card to withdraw money and pay for goods. The card is only activated once the family member in the Pacific Islands receives it and has received the PIN number sent directly to them by Westpac.

“Westpac New Zealand is delighted to provide an affordable way for customers to send money to family members overseas. The Express Visa Prepaid card will deliver real savings in the order of hundreds of dollars to those people regularly sending money home,” says Westpac’s General Manager of Products, David Cunningham. “Not only is it a benefit for New Zealanders, it will also prove a boon for those in the Islands as a much greater percentage of the remittance will end up in the hands of the beneficiary.”

Following the World Bank’s call-to-action to reduce fees charged to Pacific peoples when they send money home to their families, a project group spearheaded by the Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs, NZAID, World Bank, and the Reserve Bank of NZ has been looking at solutions to enable a remittance system between New Zealand and the Pacific based on transparency, security, speed and fair prices.

“This card is going to make a great difference to Pacific peoples, saving them a lot of money on transfer fees,” says Kim Hailwood, NZ-Pacific Remittance Project Manager. “It is very important to the family values and beliefs of Pacific peoples to be able to support family members, particularly parents, who still reside in the Islands. The card is great for customers and great for the island nations.”

The card was designed in association with Visa and can be used to access the EFTPOS and Visa networks. Because the process is easier, there are fewer fees, with just a 2.5 percent foreign exchange fee for each transaction made on the card. The Westpac Express Visa Prepaid Card is not a credit card. Only the funds actually loaded on it are available for use. A minimum deposit of $50 is required (which includes the $20 purchase cost) and there is a $3 charge for a manual top up, or $1 for an electronic top up.

Westpac is hosting a stall on Saturday 6 December at the Otara Markets to launch the card to the Pacific Island community. Everyone is welcome to attend the launch to find out more about what the Westpac Express Visa Prepaid Card can offer (and save them).


Notes to Editor

• US$40 million is the estimated loss to the Pacific region per year due to transaction fees from sending money from NZ
• The total cost of sending money between NZ and the Pacific Islands is 15-25% of the transaction value
• The NZ-Pacific Remittance Project aims to reduce the total cost of sending money from NZ to 5-7% of the transaction value
• Remittances to the Pacific Islands has tripled over the last 10 years according the World Bank, to US$425 million
• Unofficial means of sending money to the Pacific Islands, such as through the post or friends, could account for another 50% of this total
• About Westpac Express Visa Prepaid Card:
• This is the first product to enter the market and comply with the new regulations
• There are two cards – one with the owner in NZ and one with family in the Pacific region. The owner tops up the New Zealand card which allows their family to buy goods and get money out like a debit card in the Pacific Islands
• The Express Visa Prepaid Card is always in positive balance – it is not a credit card
• The Express Visa Prepaid Card can be topped up online, by phone or at any Westpac branch
• The Express Visa Prepaid Card can be used to access the EFTPOS and Visa networks
• The Express Visa Prepaid Card costs $20 to purchase and $3 for a manual, or $1 for an electronic top ups

© Scoop Media

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