Bournemouth pioneers pre-paid card tech

A new pre-paid money card concept that rewards responsible student spending has been introduced at Bournemouth University

The Spree Student Cashback Card is a pre-paid MasterCard that allows cardholders to only spend the total value of bursary payments that have been loaded onto their card, helping give students financial support by preventing them slipping into expensive overdrafts. Students also benefit from cashback on their shopping at well known high street retailers, thereby helping them to stretch their household budget further.

Bournemouth University (BU) is the first university in England to introduce the Spree Student Cashback Cards, which allow users to only spend the total value of bursary payment pre-loaded onto the card – helping students avoid slipping into debt or expensive overdrafts. 

Andrew Wright, finance operations manager at BU, said: “We wanted to introduce a pre-paid card solution as research has shown that students want as much financial support as possible upfront.If you pay money to students in a cheque, some of that will be used up in their overdraft and bank charges. This is an opportunity to give them a new account where that doesn’t happen. You can’t get into debt with it.

“Students can choose whether they want to have the cards, but the response so far has been very, very favourable. The money is put onto the account within a couple of hours, and they like the fact that it is simple, they can get the cash back, and they don’t have to queue up or wait each term for their payment.

“This is cutting-edge, innovative stuff, but it is all about the student experience.”

The scheme was launched last September, to distribute money allocated from the National Scholarship Programme (NSP), which has also been match-funded by the university.

So far, nearly 800 cards have been issued, with more than £362,000 given to students.

John Sylvester, director at Milton Keynes-based P&MM said: “By allocating bursary funds, such as those awarded by the National Scholarship Programme, in this manner Universities can give students an easy way to manage their finances, plus get a little extra on shopping that they would have to do anyway. 

“The card can be used in conjunction with other student and store discount schemes and is easy to administer by University staff, offering a fantastic alternative to bank transfer payments with added benefits.”

The chip and pin cards will last for the three or four years that a student is registered with the university, with payments made termly.

Students also have access to a web portal where they can check their balance and find out about special offers being held by retailers.

The Student Cashback Cards, provided by P&MM, can be used anywhere that accepts Mastercard, but cannot be used for cash withdrawal, gambling or to pay for content on adult websites. 

It is hoped that the cards will also be made available to scholarship students next year, and that payments will be made in nine monthly instalments to further help students with budgeting.







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