Welcome.Place launches refugee “First Aid” card pilot in France with Enfuce, Epassi & Visa
December 29, 2022 11 minutes read
- Enfuce and French Social enterprise Welcome.Place will pilot distribution of Visa-branded prepaid cards to refugees arriving in France
- Finnish card and mobile solution provider Epassi will issue the cards, which are pre-loaded with funds to help refugees purchase basic necessities
- Enfuce’s Card as a Service offers fastest onboarding time of eight weeks, compared to industry average of six months
Helsinki, 29 December 2022: Enfuce, the Finnish cloud-native issuing and processing pioneer, has announced the launch of a pilot project with a social enterprise Welcome.Place, Finnish mobile payments provider for employment benefits Epassi, and world leader in digital payments Visa, to distribute prepaid payment cards to refugees arriving in France.
The pilot project will initially be focused on mainly Ukrainian refugees who have arrived in France since the start of the war in Ukraine in February 2022. Since then, an estimated 8 million people have fled Ukraine, according to the United Nations, with around 120,000 arriving in France now registered under official national assistance programmes.
Welcome.Place was established in 2022 as a community-driven neobank to provide simple, inclusive and accessible financial solutions for all newcomers to help them settle as soon as possible. NGOs and companies can offer their newcomer community banking and financial solutions provided by Welcome.Place and its partners.
As part of its “Welcome Package”, which is distributed to newcomers in France, refugees and immigrants will receive a prepaid Visa card that is pre-loaded with funds to facilitate spending on a range of items and services within their first weeks in the country.
In full compliance with local regulations and payment industry mandates including PCI-DSS, Enfuce and its partner Epassi will facilitate the card issuing and physical card distribution. Supported by Enfuce’s cloud-based processing platform, Welcome.Place can also remotely and instantly set full spending controls on each card, including where and how it can be used, with full tracking and monitoring of how money is spent. In addition, the cards can be instantly blocked from usage in certain merchant category codes (gambling and gaming etc,) and spending limits can be adjusted in real time to enable purchases at approved locations.
Once the pilot project has been completed, it’s anticipated that a larger contract will be signed in due course in 2023 to expand the scale of the card programme to serve more refugees and bring onboard more NGO and commercial partners to widen the scope of coverage.
Rooh Savar, Co-Founder and CEO of Welcome.Place, says: “In 2009, when I arrived in France as a refugee, I didn’t have a bank account while I had a few income assets. But when I had no more cash, I was not able to buy anything… After a few months, I was finally able to open a bank account, but without the card that would allow me to withdraw money from ATMs or pay in stores or online. This situation lasted for over a year and negatively impacted my personal and professional life. We created Welcome.Place to make sure that every newcomer could have access to banking solutions suited to his/her situation.”
Caroline Span, Co-Founder of Welcome.Place, adds: “Welcome.Place’s goal is to facilitate and promote social and economic inclusion of newcomers in Europe, who have had to leave their belongings behind. In the first stage, our goal is to provide a service that assists 50 000 Ukrainian and other refugees by the end of 2023. This new card can transform the lives of refugees arriving in Europe, empowering them with the dignity to buy what they need through a card that looks like any other bank card. The economic and social inclusion of newcomers and refugees normally takes 5 years to achieve – with the help of Enfuce and Visa, we can reduce this inclusion period to just one year. We are excited and proud to have created this pilot in collaboration with one of the leading NGOs in the world and look forward to the impact it will have.”
Katherine Brown, VP and Head of Inclusive Impact & Sustainability of Visa, comments: “This pilot represents an incredibly important step in advancing the financial and social inclusion of displaced people in Europe. Accelerating access to the mainstream monetary system improves prospects for rebuilding a life in a new environment, and therefore Visa is proud to work with Enfuce to enable a Welcome.Place to those affected by forced displacement.”
Led by co-founders and co-CEOs Monika Liikamaa and Denise Johansson, Enfuce offers a fast alternative to existing issuer processing platforms, with the agility to quickly add modules and services as and when needed. The first in the world to fully move card issuing to the cloud, and with its turnkey Card as a Service (CaaS) model, packaged BIN sponsoring, and all regulatory compliance taken care of, Enfuce is a one-stop shop for organisations that want to issue cards to their user bases.
Denise Johansson, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Enfuce, comments: “We’re delighted to partner with Welcome.Place to assist them with the vital work they’re doing, and with our partners Epassi and Visa, we’re committed to ensuring refugees have access to the funds they need through a prepaid card that looks and works like a mainstream bank card. Enfuce’s First Aid card has been designed to help aid organisations distribute money to the people who need it, immediately, securely, and in full compliance with regulatory demands. Not only does the card programme give Welcome.Place full control of how donated funds are distributed and spent, most importantly it gives refugees the means to rebuild their lives and become financially included.”
Monika Liikamaa, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Enfuce, adds: “Whether it’s through conflict or climate emergencies, millions of people depend on humanitarian assistance that can be delivered quickly and securely. Refugees may have a fear of appearing vulnerable, or feel shame about waiting in line for cash hand-outs. When they have suffered so much already, it’s vital to give aid recipients dignity and privacy. Enfuce’s First Aid card is an example of how modern, integrated payment solutions can transform humanitarian aid delivery, improve operational speed and security, and promote financial inclusion.”
*Visa is a registered trademark of Visa International Service Association.
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Welcome.Place was established in 2022 as a community-driven neobank, providing simple, inclusive, and accessible financial solutions for all newcomers arriving in Europe.
It is co-founded by Rooh Savar, president of SINGA, one of the leading NGOs dedicated to the empowerment of newcomers in Europe, and Caroline Span, former managing director of MedNum, the main actor of digital inclusion in France.
Welcome.Place’s goal is to facilitate and promote social and economic inclusion of newcomers in Europe through a community-driven approach to create a stronger and more sustainable engagement.
Epassi, founded in 2007 in Helsinki, is a market leader in employee benefits within the Nordics. The unique solution drives mobile tech and payment solutions to open up a world of health and well-being possibilities, combining all benefits in one user-friendly service. Epassi Group now serves more than nearly 2 million users, 10 000 employers, and 50,000 service providers. Epassi is the leading fintech company in the Nordic countries, which was awarded by the Financial Times as one of the fastest growing companies in Europe in 2021. www.epassi.com.
Enfuce is a one-stop shop for modern card issuing and payment processing. Founded in 2016, Enfuce has become one of Europe’s leading payment processors that delivers cutting edge debit, prepaid, and credit card solutions across Europe and scaling globally, with offices in Finland, Germany, Latvia, Sweden, and the UK. With Enfuce card solutions, traditional banks, neobanks, and fintechs can create next-level payment experiences for their end users now and into the future.
Enfuce has raised a total of €62 million in several funding rounds and been awarded with recognitions like the Visa Fintech Fast Track programme, Mastercard Lighthouse Development Programme, and 2019 PayTech Award for Best Payments solution for Payment Systems in the Cloud.