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Welcome to the pre-pay online cash card

It's open day for kids and those with poor credit

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We're been hearing a lot recently about online credit cards, accompanied with Daily Mail rants about how teenage credit is evil and will destroy the world. Actually, we agree with the damage that getting kids involved with credit cards will cause, but Global Internet Billing has an interesting solution with its InteractivCash card.

It's basically a telephone card for use online and comes from the same people that supply these cards and mobile pre-pay cards to corner shops. This is the setup: go to your local shop, buy a £10, £20, £50 or £100 card (using cash, debit card, whatever). Scratch off the back and you get a unique pin number. Then, go to one of the Web sites that take the card, tap in your number and away you go.

Advantages: fraud free, anonymous, don't have to use your credit card, can be used by kids and those that aren't able to buy on the Net because of a poor credit rating. It's a cracking idea and the problem of distribution and promotion is solved in one fell swoop by feeding it to the huge array of local shops in the UK.

The shop gets a cut, the Web site gets a sale and Global Internet Billing "would be happy to make fifty pence on a ten-pound card". And then, of course, there's the beauty of "breakage" - those pence that people fail to use on each card or forget about.

So this is the solution to everyone's troubles? Well, no, there are a few problems here. The big big one is where can you use the card? GIB has gone into this alongside a brand new UK portal BritishInformation.com (BI from here). BI.com has just started up and hasn't done any press or any promotion so you won't know about it.

Anyway BI has done deals with a whole range of content and ecommerce sites. It hasn't signed them all up to the scheme but any new converts will be tied-in and it's hoped that existing partners will see the advantages. And so, for starters, this is where you will be able to get your goods from (the boys and girls at GIB and BI demonstrated the system by allowing me to send some flowers to me mum (ah bless) - we'll see if they arrive tomorrow).

The question though is: how will GIB and BI get more sites to sign up to the card? The one major problem with the Internet for such schemes is the sheer size of it. If you can only use it at a small number of sites, people will grow bored of it very quickly. How will it get the message out and how easy is it for sites to get connected? The CEO of GIB Nigel Wallbridge was a little cagey on this one. He professes that it will be a simple process for a site to join the scheme - two hours and a bit of software is all you need apparently. But if this process isn't foolproof we can't see how it will all work.

The only other cagey area was money. "GIB is making a profit," was the best response we got to queries about finances. Which begs the response: "What can you say about the profitability of a business which hasn't properly launched yet."

Equally, BritishInformation.com's development head Emma Meheux was a little wary when we inquired whether her company was solely a dotcom (how times have changed). It is.

However, it is a very good idea and we hope it manages to get a foothold before the big boys pile in with different products.

And just for good measure we'll give the pair of them a marketing ploy: since it will be teenagers that pick up this market, sign with some top class vendors of teenage goods (you know, stuff like Teletubbies or whatever the latest equivalent is) - even if it has to be at a loss. Then advertise profusely, saying that you can buy these goods over the Net with the new super InteractivCash card. Two birds, one stone - well, one card. Get the playgrounds interested and you're laughing. ®

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