Having successfully piloted in South America, MasterCard and Visa intend to introduce and expand the use of the prepaid card in Panama, where the use of this product is in an early stage, as well as the rest of Central America.
"Today in Panama not many banks issue prepaid cards," said Ignacio Plata, manager of MasterCard Panama to Capital.com.pa . Among the few banks that do are Banco General and Credomatic.
According to the executive, there is great potential for these cards in Panama, which could be used in programs such as ‘100 para los 70’ and payments for the corridors. Similarly, they could be used to for services such as North and South Corridors, the Metro Bus and mobile phones, and to facilitate purchases via ATM withdrawals.
Visa promotes the prepaid card market with emphasis on adolescent clients(13 to 18 years), a separate generation who use the internet and cell phones as their primary communication tools and rely heavily on electronic commerce and trade through mobile devices, but often lack a valid payment method for accessing these channels.
The company Beneficiadora de Occidente, dedicated to the production of coffee, has introduced a prepaid card to pay its coffee pickers.
The company, through an agreement signed with Banco Nacional de Costa Rica, is the first to incorporate this method of payment, which may be extended to other agricultural activities (pineapple and banana plantations).
Hospitals are offering a variety of pre-paid health plans with prices starting at $12.50 per month for the most basic.
The plans offered by different hospitals cover services of hospitalization, consultation and lab tests for patients of all ages.
Mario Mendizábal, insurance analyst, explains that the difference between these plans and an insurance product is that with pre-paid health plans, “the customer is paying in advance for future medical services and generally the companies offering the plans are medical institutions”.