Ukash vouchers, which allow consumers to shop, pay and play online using cash, will initially be available at 3 600 outlets across Australia with the possibility of expansion later in the year.
The move will enable the company to tap into Australia's large cash market, its growing number of internet users and its 9 million consumers - nearly half the population - that are concerned at the chances of cyber crime and identity theft online. Credit card fraud is one of the most common forms of theft in Australia and with 39 percent of the population having been the victim of cyber crime, it is the country with the highest incidence of online fraud in the world, said a kash spokesman.
Ukash, which is based in the UK and is regulated by the Financial Services Authority (FSA), has an existing global network of 275 000 issuing points, providing a payment solution to consumers across the UK, Europe and South Africa. The Ukash business model has proved highly attractive to consumers and retailers alike; Ukash currently process several million transactions annually, with values in excess of Euro 100 million.
One of the major benefits of using Ukash is that customers do not need to have access to a bank account or credit card to shop online. And according to research conducted by the Reserve Bank of Australia, cash is still the primary payment method preferred by Aussies, accounting for 70 percent of all transactions made.
The deal with epay allows users to exchange their cash in-store and receive Ukash vouchers - which are available in Oz dollars in amounts of $10, $20, $50, $100, $200 and $500 - with a unique code that users simply provide when paying online. The anonymity of buying and spending Ukash means that no financial details are required from the consumer, and people can shop online without worrying about the continued risk of online identity theft.
Ukash will be available to consumers across Australia from epay retailers, including petrol stations and convenience stores. This will complement the Ukash Online solution, which allows consumers in Australia to purchase Ukash online directly from their bank account through all major banks - a secure online issuance function which provides comprehensive authentication and verification technology to online consumers.
Ukash vouchers can be used to shop, pay and play online and amongst the commercial many sectors where Ukash is popular, demand for cash payment methods in the online betting and VoIP markets has been particularly strong.
Mark Chirnside, chief executive officer Ukash said: "Ukash is embarking on a period of international expansion as we continue to make online shopping available to anybody, anywhere in the world. By opening up internet shopping to the cash market Ukash allows those without bank accounts or credit cards, or those who have fears of online fraud, to shop securely online using cash.
"We are excited by our move into the Australian market, which we believe will be another strategic success for our company and we are looking forward to working with retailers here to help them develop valuable new revenue streams."
In September 2008 Ukash received significant additional funding from South African giant Blue Label Telecoms, part-owned by Microsoft, which acted as a catalyst in the company's international expansion. Ukash has signed major deals with international partners which has seen the company treble in size over the last 12 months and by 2010 it will be issuing Ukash vouchers across all five continents, and the company is currently pursuing a number of other strategic prepaid projects to enable the cash consumer to shop online anywhere in the world.
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