Ukash is a UK-based electronic money system that allows users to exchange their cash for a secure code to make payments online. The system is authorised and regulated by the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority. This means that it is considered safe to use for UK residents.
Although it is another e-payment system, it differs from many others in that you do not have to possess a credit or debit card, or even have a bank account at all, to use the service. In the early days of the internet back in the last century, if you did not have access to conventional financial services such as these, you could not buy goods and services on the internet at all. Apart from a few flexible and trusting eBay traders who would accept cash on delivery that is. This effectively prevented a very large number of people who had money to spend but did not have conventional banking arrangements from taking advantage of the new technology. This could have been for various reasons: lack of a permanent registered address, poor or non-existent credit rating or a previous insolvency or bankruptcy for example. Even today, banks are reluctant to open accounts for those on low or irregular incomes.
With the advent of e-payment services such as Ukash, this is no longer a problem. The service enables people to buy a pre-payment voucher with cash in a standard neighbourhood or high street shop. Once their money is paid to a participating retailer, Ukash users are given a unique 19-digit code, which can be entered online to buy goods and services on the internet. If there is still money left unused, a further code is provided, enabling the customer to spend the remainder elsewhere. This is just like receiving change in a real shop. Ukash vouchers can be bought over the counter at thousands of participating retailers, such as convenience stores, newsagents, supermarkets and even some petrol stations. Any store which displays the Payzone or Paypoint logo should be able to provide the service. How Ukash actually makes a profit is a closely guarded matter: there are some charges and fees payable in some rare circumstances. Certainly one way is when people lose their voucher or code, or forget to redeem them (Monthly charges apply if they are not spent within a year of purchase). From the customer’s point of view though, the important thing to remember is that the service is normally free to you, so long as you remember to use them!
In June 2014 Ukash launched the Ukash Travel Money Prepaid MasterCard, a reloadable prepaid MasterCard for euros and U.S. dollars that can be used anywhere that accepts MasterCard. Charges apply for this service.
When using the service, it is vital to remember that your 19 digit code is crucial. Guard Ukash codes as if they are cash. Each Ukash code is unique and like cash, must be kept safe. Never give your code to any person or organisation you are unsure about, nor leave codes or vouchers where they may be seen by others. Just like you wouldn’t leave your wallet or purse lying around.
Ukash therefore, provide a very useful service for those who don’t have, or do not wish to use a credit card. Now the 21st century is here, a lack of plastic is no longer a barrier to buying stuff online!