Global branded payments provider Blackhawk Network has launched its new virtual universal prepaid Mastercard for Canadian businesses, according to a press release.

Businesses can issue the prepaid cards as a customer reward option and tailor them to include their brand logo in the delivery email, the release stated. The cards can be spent anywhere Mastercard is accepted, including international businesses, and their value ranges from $1 to $999.

The cards are redeemable online for a contactless shopping experience, although customers can request a physical card if they prefer.

“For Canadian businesses that manage incentives programs, offering virtual rewards like our new virtual prepaid Mastercard can provide a strategic advantage,” Chris Jones, vice president of Digital Services and Incentives at Blackhawk Network, said in the release. “People want to enjoy their rewards, and they want to redeem them via the shopping channels they use most often — virtual rewards satisfy both of these preferences.”

Virtual incentives are the smarter choice for both the consumer and the merchant, SKUx Co-Founder and Executive Vice President Bobby Tinsley noted in an interview with PYMNTS. They provide a frictionless shopping experience for the consumer, and the merchant can access the payment the same day the purchase is made — unlike with physical coupons, which often carry a 60- to 90-day processing lag.

Likewise, gift cards are making a permanent shift to digital, according to Helena Mao, vice president of Global Product Strategy for Payment Solutions at Blackhawk Network. Mao told PYMNTS that 78 percent of consumers expect their shopping habits to remain digital post-pandemic.

And, interestingly, gift cards can serve a greater purpose than as a gift or customer reward — they can help unbanked and underbanked consumers adopt to the digital shift, according to Mao.

“If you think about the shift to online and in-app shopping behavior change that the pandemic has caused, customers who are cash-preferring or who don’t have a debit card or credit card are going to be challenged to shop in this new environment,” Mao said. “In this world, gift cards actually come in as a great bridge between the digital and physical world.”

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NEW PYMNTS DATA: HEALTHCARE PAYMENT EXPERIENCE REPORT – JANUARY 2021 

About: The Healthcare Payment Experience Report, a PYMNTS and Rectangle Health collaboration, is based on a census-balanced survey of more than 2,000 consumers’ healthcare payments experiences and the challenges they face. The report reveals key insights into how offering flexible payment options and digital-first experiences can help medical providers keep their patients from seeking healthcare services elsewhere.





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