One major use of open loop pre-paid cards is for cards that can are used by employees at restaurants for lunch. There are a number of local and international players that compete in this area by providing such cards to companies, with Sodexo, Ticket and Multinet among the biggest in terms of number of cards and value sales.
There is demand for pre-paid cards in general, but open loop in particular, from the unbanked population as well as young consumers, ie people who are generally unable to get debit or credit cards. Open loop pre-paid cards, which can be used for online and bricks-and-mortar shopping as well as at ATMs for cash withdrawals, are popular with parents for their children, as it allows them to use these cards to track their children’s spending.
Although the main use for closed loop pre-paid cards in Turkey is as transportation cards, retailers also offer closed loop gift cards. The latter offer consumers a convenient way of gift-giving.
Pre-paid cards is a very fragmented competitive landscape as a result of the growing number of retailers and fintech companies entering the category. This is because, traditionally, the functions of pre-paid cards were more limited.
Istanbul’s transportation card – Istanbul Kart, operated by Belbim – was a closed loop card that could only be used on the transport network in Istanbul. However, in 2019, Belbim agreed in principle with the Troy Turkish card payment system to enable all Istanbul Kart users to be able to use their Istanbul Kart cards for making shopping purchases, turning Istanbul Kart into an open loop pre-paid card.
The Turkish government has announced that it is planning to launch the first local and national restaurant employee cards with the collaboration of public institutions such as PTT and Belbim and telecoms operator Turkcell. The cards will initially be launched in Istanbul and will also be capable of being used as transportation cards.
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