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Teenage online card makes a Splash. A week too soon

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It seems as though everyone's fighting to get a slice of the teenage online market with the announcement of the Splash Plastic Card on the same day as World Online's Jalda system.

The Splash card's appearance was written about today by the Daily Mail, although when we contacted the company behind it, Marketing Front, we were informed that an embargo on the story existed until next Monday.

Marketing Front was unwilling to talk any further about the card except to say that it was "the safest way for kids to spend money online" and was not a credit card, as the Mail has described it. Instead, in would appear, the card will operate much like a phone card, with credits already on it that can be topped up. It has nothing to with games site Splash.com, the spokeswoman told us.

The forthcoming existence of such cards clearly raises a number of questions. Kids are bound to use the Internet to purchase goods, and you can hardly blame companies for wanting to get a purchase card onto the market - the loyalty options are potentially very lucrative.

However, there is the fear (as raised with the Mail's traditional abhorrence) that we would be training kids (from 14) up in the use of credit cards - an essential part of modern living but not necessarily a good one. The National Consumer Council was not overly impressed and we can be sure to see plenty of figures from credit control agencies about the damaging effects of credit.

Not that it matters because unless deemed illegal or boycotted by banks/Web sites, kids will snap them up like hot cakes. God help us all. ®

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