September 18, 2012

MasterCard and Western Union announced a new partnership today that will allow cardholders of MasterCard's rePower prepaid cards issued by banks to reload their cards at any Western Union location in the U.S. The companies said in a statement that the deal will give MasterCard prepaid cardholders the biggest reload network in the U.S. with over 100,000 reload locations, including 45,000 Western Union Agent locations.

The partnership is the first stage in a deal reached by the two companies late last year that makes MasterCard the preferred brand for Western Union-sponsored prepaid programs globally, and Western Union the preferred money-transfer provider for MasterCard. The partnership will make similar MasterCard prepaid services available at Western Union locations in the future, the statement said.

MasterCard cardholders can already reload their cards at the locations of several major U.S. retailers including RadioShack and Wal-Mart.

MasterCard's prepaid cards are aimed at the underbanked, which the card company estimated at around 68 million in the U.S., citing an FDIC study. Many of the underbanked in the U.S. already use Western Union services, such as cash transfers.

[See Related: MasterCard Launches Prepaid Refill Service in Europe]

Jonathan Camhi is a graduate of the City University of New York's Graduate School of Journalism, where he focused on international reporting and interned at the Hindustan Times in Delhi, ...