PayPal Launches Prepaid “PayPal My Cash Card,” Allowing Cash-Preferred Customers To Shop Online

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PayPal announced today the launch of its first fully branded cash loading card, called the PayPal My Cash Card, which will allow users to load up their PayPal accounts using cash instead of bank transfers. The card will be sold at pharmacies and discount stores, including CVS, Rite Aid, Fred’s, Dollar General, Family Dollar, and others soon.

The company says that the PayPal Cash Card will be available beginning today, at 30,000 locations across the U.S., 10,000 of which are Dollar Generals. PayPal plans for the card to reach 60,000 retailers by 2013.

To activate a card, users first purchase the dollar amount they want to load. The card is available at launch in fixed amounts like $20, $50, $100 and higher. Users then log into the PayPal My Cash Card website, and load the funds directly into their PayPal account using the PIN number provided on the back of the card. If they don’t already have a PayPal account, they can create one at this time. After the funds are loaded, users can checkout with PayPal at any of the online merchants’ websites where PayPal is supported.

PayPal My Cash

There is also a $3.95 activation fee, and users can load up to $500 per day with a maximum of $4,000 per month. Card holders do not have to submit to a credit check to use the My Cash Card, but they do have to provide name, address, date of birth and their Social Security Number which PayPal uses to verify identity. If they don’t have this information, they can work with PayPal’s Resolution Center to provide additional proof of identity.

To launch the new card, PayPal worked with InComm, a provider of prepaid products, including wireless cards, gift cards, redeemable debit cards, promotional cards, gaming cards, and other stored value cards in the industry.

Serving The “Under-Banked”

With this move, PayPal is expanding its reach to the segment of the market commonly referred to as the “un-banked” or “under-banked.” Though that’s something of a misnomer, as Dave Wilkes, CEO of Fuze Networks recently pointed out to us. His company is working to allow consumers to make bill payments using cash, and he says that who prefer to pay with cash aren’t necessarily “un-banked” (at least, not in the U.S.). The typical prepaid card holder has, on average, 3.2 other cards in his or her wallet, Wilkes told us.

The difference is that this type of consumer tends to prefer using cash to credit or debit, however. That limits the amount of online shopping they’ve been able to do in the past, of course. And, in turn, that limits PayPal’s potential user base.

Walmart, a major retailer with both an online and offline presence, attempted to woo this cash-preferred customer to its e-commerce site as well, by launching a “pay with cash” option in April 2012. Other startups focus on cash, too, like PayNearMe, which lets users shop online and pay with cash, or Dwolla, which has been building out a full cash-based payment network.

But neither PayNearMe nor Dwolla have the brand name recognition of PayPal, and despite Walmart’s size, it is still but one retailer, not a larger network of merchants, like the many merchants offering PayPal support.

PayPal, however, is promoting the launch as just another funding option for its current user base of 117 million users, many of whom told the company they want more ways to add money into their accounts. That’s true, of course, but you can’t discount the potential this announcement has to reach those who have never before used PayPal because of its previous restrictions.

This news comes on the heels of other major announcements from PayPal, including the recent report of its biggest mobile shopping day ever, and today, a test of a partnership with gifting startup Wrapp.