Welcome.Place has launched a pilot project to distribute prepaid Visa cards to Ukranian refugees arriving in France.
Refugees and immigrants will receive a welcome package containing a prepaid Visa card that is pre-loaded with funds to spend on a range of items and services within their first weeks in the country.
It will initially focus on Ukranian refugees who have arrived in France since the start of the war last February.
Since then, an estimated 8m people have fled Ukraine, with around 120,000 in France now registered under official assistance programmes.
Spending controls can be set on each card, including where and how it can be used, and track how money is spent.
Payments on activities such as gambling and gaming can also be blocked on the cards.
Once the pilot project has been completed, a larger contract will be signed in 2023 to expand the programme, to serve more refugees and bring onboard more NGOs.
Rooh Savar, co-founder and chief executive officer of Welcome.Place, arrived in France as a refugee in 2009. He commented: “When I arrived, I didn’t have a bank account while I had a few income assets. But when I had no more cash, I was not able to buy anything.
“After a few months, I was finally able to open a bank account, but without the card that would allow me to withdraw money from ATMs or pay in stores or online.
“This situation lasted for over a year and negatively impacted my personal and professional life. We created Welcome.Place to make sure that every newcomer could have access to banking solutions suited to his/her situation.”
Caroline Span, co-founder of Welcome.Place, added: “In the first stage, our goal is to provide a service that assists 50,000 Ukrainian and other refugees by the end of 2023.”
“This new card can transform the lives of refugees arriving in Europe, empowering them with the dignity to buy what they need through a card that looks like any other bank card.”