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Published: Wednesday, 1/24/2001

Local firm debuts pre-paid credit

The first pre-paid MasterCards - which can be used anywhere credit cards are accepted - are to be in stores by Feb. 1, marketed by a Toledo firm called PrivaCash.Com, Inc., headed by David Francisco, the former top officer of Sky Financial Group, Inc.

The cards, similar to pre-paid phone cards, are to be sold in denominations of $25, $50, and $100 in outlets such as convenience stores, college book stores, and banks.

“Phone cards taught the concept of prepaid. Mastercard taught what credit cards are about. There's not a lot of customer education to do,” Mr. Francisco said.

KeyBank USA is issuing the cards.

Mr. Francisco said 75 percent of the market for the cards is likely to be as gifts. Instead of a gift certificate, which can be used only at a particular shopping mall or specific store, these cards can be used anyplace that takes credit cards.

Among stores that will sell the cards are those of The Andersons, Inc.

Mr. Francisco said stores, banks, and other outlets for the card will “make a few dollars for every card they sell,” but he declined to be more specific.

The company said in April that it wanted the cards to be available by October, in time for Christmas. “Whenever you do anything that's never been done before you've got to do a lot of trials and testing,” Mr. Francisco said of the delays.

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