A smart card that allows users to spend a predetermined amount of dollars, with no connection to a bank account, has been launched by the Israel Postal Company’s Postal Bank.
The country’s first debit card in foreign currency, known as the “Visa Dollar Charger,” can also be used to purchase goods on websites abroad and replace risky credit cards, checks and cash abroad. The Postal Bank said Tuesday that there is now no reason to hide foreign currency when traveling.
The Israel Postal Company noted that users will protect their own privacy, as no one else will know how they spend their money and how much remains in the smart card. It is reusable by being “charged” before going abroad. The money cannot be stolen, as one must use the code number; one can easily block cards if they have been lost or stolen and get the remaining money back from the Postal Company.
Parents could, for example, give their grown children such a card for taking along on a trek to the Far East without worrying about it being cancelled if lost or stolen. Companies and government offices that send employees abroad can give them dollar-charged smart cards to cover expenses.
Sasi Shilo, chairman of the Israel Postal Company, said that the smart card is the most innovative new financial product it has issued in some time. As it is not connected to any Israeli commercial bank, it functions on its own and is “filled” with dollars. In the near future, a euro version will be issued, said Shilo.
The new product was made possible by a cooperation agreement with the US company Payoneer, Visa Europe and Israeli credit companies, which charge Israeli customers in shekels, said Postal Bank director Yoel Naveh. VISA Europe representative Oded Slomi said he was certain that the new smart card provides benefits for travelers including safety, control on spending and accessibility.
The Visa Dollar Charger will be sold in the Postal Bank’s 700 branches around the country. It will be in effect for up to three years, hold up to $2,500 and cost a one-time fee of NIS 40. The purchaser will receive on the spot a code number that had best be memorized. The VISA card is respected at millions of establishments around the world. A maximum of $1,000 can be spent or withdrawn from automated teller machines per day.
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