Paysafecard is a pre-payment card which can be used to pay for goods and services both online and in the real world. It is particularly useful for online purchases, because it can be used by people who do not have standard credit or debit cards, or even a current bank account. It is also frequently offered by online gaming sites as an option available to players when making their deposits.
History of Paysafecard
The corporate history of Paysafecard is a long and complicated one. The service has undergone numerous take-overs, mergers and acquisitions in its two decades of existence. In fact, the services of a forensic accountant may be required to verify them all. What is certain is that the original idea and service originated in Austria.
The fledgling company was founded by four entrepreneurs in 2000, led by Armin Sageder. With technical support from the Austrian office of IBM, the service was launched the same year, followed by its introduction to Germany in 2001. The service was an immediate success, and the company continued to grow.
The next big leap forward came in 2005, when Paysafecard received EU funding, which helped it to expand its service beyond its Germanic roots. It launched in several countries beyond its central European heartland, including the United Kingdom and Spain.
It was this move which ultimately helped the company to expand its service throughout the European Union. The UK’s Financial Services Authority (FSA) (now the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)) granted the service a special licence to operate within the country. This enabled Paysafecard to be rolled out across the EU in 2008. It also received permission to trade in Switzerland, sealing its acceptance as a valid service within the traditional banking and finance industry.
The 2010s saw the Paysafecard service continue to thrive throughout the European continent. The smooth progress of the card itself belied the turmoil of its ownership however. The corporate shenanigans came to a head around the middle of the decade, when the service seemed to change hands on a regular basis.
In 2013, it was acquired by Skrill, the UK based electronic online payment company, which had itself been formerly known as Moneybookers. No sooner had the ink dried on this particular deal when Skrill itself was acquired by the Luxembourg based venture capital firm CVC Capital Partners for a cool €600 million. This was followed in 2015 by the arrival of Optimal Payments PLC. They were already the owners of Skrill’s rival Isle of Man based e-payment company Neteller, and decided to buy the entire Skrill Group (including Paysafecard) for over €1 billion.
Optimal Payments subsequently decided to re-brand themselves after the most profitable part of their ever expanding portfolio of payment services, and became Paysafe Group. In 2017, the entire group was once more the target of a takeover. This time it was acquired by a consortium led by The Blackstone Group, an investment capital company based in New York.
How Does Paysafecard Work?
Paysafecard is a physical card, printout or digital information which contains a 16 digit PIN. The PIN can be used to make payments online, while the printout or physical card can be used to make payments in real world retail stores.
Physical cards can be bought at a variety of local outlets and high street shops, such as convenience stores, newsagents and petrol stations. This means that it is widely available and can be purchased almost anywhere within the United Kingdom. This makes it particularly useful in rural areas, and even in more urban locations where banks have been closing and free cashpoints are becoming harder to find.
The card’s usefulness goes far beyond this however, as it can also be used by people who do not use conventional banking services in the first place. Cards can be purchased with cash even if the buyer has no bank account, and then used to make transactions online.
Cards can be bought in a number of different denominations: from £10 to £100 in any participating outlet, and up to £175 at special PayPoint counters. They are flexible too. Customers do not have to spend all the value of the card at once: any remaining balance is held on the card and can be used for a subsequent transaction. Also, multiple cards can be used at the same time for purchases of larger value.
It is important to recognise that the card, or more specifically the 16 digit PIN, must be retained at all times. Disclosing the number means that it could be used by someone else, because it is not the card itself that is valuable but the unique number that it contains.
Paysafecard is currently available in over fifty different countries across the world and can be bought in around thirty alternative currencies, including all the major ones such as the pound sterling, the euro and the US dollar.
In most cases, buying and using Paysafecard to make purchases is fee free. The service instead charges the retailer or website a small commission when they accept the funds as payment. There are some exceptions however. Any currency conversion required during a transaction is subject to an additional charge. You should also spend your card within six months of purchase: a monthly service charge (£3 at the time of writing in the UK) is added after this point. There is also a fee to pay if you wish to convert your Paysafecard back into cash.
Paysafecard and Online Gaming
Paysafecard is widely accepted at online bingo and casino sites and is a very convenient way of making deposits, especially for those without formal banking arrangements. You can always check to see if a bingo brand or online casino accepts Paysafecard by checking the Deposit Methods link on any Oh My Bingo site review.