Pre-pay Maestro/Switch arrives

The Clydesdale Bank is teaming up with a company called Prepay Technologies to offer the UK's first mainstream pre-paid Maestro/Cirrus ATM and payment card.

Maestro, as those dastardly penguins are apt to remind us all, is the new name for Switch, the debit card brand.

The pre-paid Maestro card is aimed at what the Clydesdale euphemistically called "the unbanked community," but adds that the cards will cost a tenner to issue, as well as a quid every time you buy something with it.

And if you use the card internationally, you'll pay an exchange commission of 4.0 per cent.

The only saving grace of the card account is that you can have card accounts in euros and US dollars, as well as good old British poundlets.

As well as being part of the GE Capital Group, PrePay Technologies is also the company behind Splash Plastic, a reloadable prepaid debit card targeted to the youth and unbanked markets.

Incredibly, the firm says that, since the program was launched in 2001, more than a million cards have been issued.

Am I missing something here? Is a stored value debit or credit card really worth a quid a time for people to use?

The only scenario I can think it would be useful is buying stuff online, but you can get a Solo card from a number of banks, even if your credit rating isn't so hot.

And forget about fraud. You have to have two forms of ID, including your photo and address, to open a prepayment Maestro card account...