Paysafecard is a method of making payments over the internet without the need for a credit or debit card, or even a traditional bank account. You just need to buy your card from any of the thousands of participating convenience stores, newsagents, petrol stations or supermarkets. Paysafecards are available wherever there is a Paypoint terminal, so just look out for the logo. Cards can be purchased in denominations of any of the following amounts: £10, £25, £50, £75 and £100. Each card you buy has its own unique 16 digit PIN, which you enter online at participating websites in order to purchase goods or services. Large payments can be made by combining cards (up to ten in any one transaction). Combining cards is also a useful way to spend any remaining credit on a partly used card.

This method of payment is particularly useful for those who do not have conventional banking facilities, perhaps because of low income, lack of a permanent address or a poor or non-existent credit rating (it has been estimated that 35% of EU citizens do not have a credit card). It is also valued by those for whom disclosing personal banking and credit details online is a worry. Identity theft and other forms of financial fraud is a growing and under- reported form of crime. This is not an issue with Paysafecard, because each card has its own unique PIN, which you can pay for by cash if you wish. What you DO need to worry about though, is losing your card. Paysafecards should be treated as cash: if you haven’t got your PIN, you can’t spend your voucher. For this reason, you should never disclose your PIN to others, because your only proof of ownership is the PIN itself.

Paysafecard is a European based operation. Its holding company is based in Vienna, Austria, and boasts that its pre-payment card is the most popular in Europe (it also uses the word “solution” quite a lot, but only modern marketing prats use that kind of PR speak, so I’m not going to). Paysafecard in the UK is operated by Prepaid Services Company Ltd, which is based in London. It is regulated by the UK Government’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). It is therefore regarded as safe to use throughout the EU.

The company was founded in Austria in 2000, launching in Germany the following year. By 2006 it was operating in seven countries across Europe including the UK. 2009 saw the first venture beyond Europe (Argentina) and a collaboration with MasterCard to permit branded pre-payment cards to be issued for the first time. The service was launched in the US in 2010. The latest published figures for the company (2014) show that you can use Paysafecard at nearly half a million sales outlets in 21 different currencies in around 40 different countries worldwide. 2014 also saw Paysafecard become part of the Skrill group of companies.

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