SafeCharge launches StarsCard for PokerStars
Payment solutions provider SafeCharge has announced the launch of StarsCard, a PokerStars-branded prepaid MasterCard that allows poker players in the UK to withdraw and deposit direct to their bank account.
The partnership will operate only in the UK for the time being, although an Italian version of a Visa StarsCard also seems to be operational, where SafeCharge will manage the prepaid MasterCard payment solution for PokerStars customers. The card was made available to UK players on 16 April and will be rolled out in other international markets in the future.
The new payment product was welcomed by analysts at Numis Securities, who in a research note commented that the gaming transactions by PokerStars customers would be "cheaper for both PokerStars and the player than some alternative payment methods" although "it will take some time to see if the product will be a success".
"All merchants would like their customers to use lower-cost payment methods but have had only mixed success in encouraging them to do so. PokerStars is a major online gambling merchant and there is potential to roll out this white label payment method to other operators and countries. The UK, with a wide range of existing payment options, may be a relatively poor location to test the potential of the product and we may have to wait until it has been established in other countries before being able to make a proper assessment".
The deal was further welcomed by Numis because SafeCharge is majority controlled by Teddy Sagi, Playtech founder and shareholder, and has no shareholding relationship with PokerStars, thus "confirming SafeCharge’s ability to establish new merchant relationships". Numis added: "It is a significant success for the recently announced card issuing strategy based on 3V, the card-issuing business acquired in December 2014."
The StarsCard can be used anywhere MasterCard is accepted and provides a web and mobile account that can be funded by vouchers available at retail stores, bank transfer or a debit card, it is integrated into the world’s biggest poker site and can be used to deposit and cash out directly from player accounts.
SafeCharge added that StarsCard allows PokerStars customers to have a single point of deposit but with additional features for cashing out, spending and sending money to friends and family.
SafeCharge also announced that Tim Mickley will move from being chief financial offcier to group business development director. He will be replaced by Ali Khwaja, who joined SafeCharge in February 2015 and will continue to manage the Card Services division.