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‘Game changing’ new Qantas cash card moves aggressively into pre-loaded forex market


Issues & Trends – February 2013

‘Game changing’ new Qantas cash card moves aggressively into
pre-loaded forex market

qantas cardQANTAS has dramatically demonstrated why the venture capitalists who have circled the company from time to time salivate over the money-making potential of the carrier’s frequent flyer program with its nine million members.

In conjunction with MasterCard, the airline has this month released to its frequent flyer members a chip-enabled card with a “Qantas Cash” feature that will have major implications for purveyors of pre-paid foreign exchange cards such as Travelex.

“Members will be able to withdraw cash and foreign currency from over 2.1 million ATMs in Australia and overseas, in addition to existing functions of the current frequent flyer card, such as faster, smarter check-in at airports and serving as a boarding pass,” the launch announcement states.

Qantas Loyalty chief executive Lesley Grant boasts that the Qantas Cash feature will make the new generation card “indispensable for many people”.

Cardholders will be able to load up to nine different currencies on the card, lock in exchange rates, and use it for in-store trans-actions when travelling overseas, to withdraw foreign currency from ATMs internationally or to purchase online.

The new card will extend to the airline’s bronze frequent flyers a facility hitherto only available to silver, gold and platinum members – the ability to use the card to check-in at airports and as their boarding pass.

Qantas Cash will enable card holders to transfer money onto the card and use it for shopping
at 35 million locations where MasterCard is accepted. Members will also have the opportunity to earn points on eligible transactions.

Qantas says it has more than nine million frequent flyers and the new cards will be available to Australian-based members from the third quarter of 2013.

Grant said the Qantas Cash feature taps into the rapidly expanding area of electronic payments as people shift from cash to cards, and let members earn points from these transactions.

“This new generation card will open the door to a lot of other uses through smart chip technology and the ability to integrate it with mobiles, meaning the sky really is the limit,” she added.

“Frequent Flyer is one of the core strengths of the Qantas Group portfolio … By diversify-ing the uses of the card and creating a new way to earn frequent flyer points, we are increasing engagement levels of our members and the value of the program to our partners.”

MasterCard Australasia division president, Eddie Grobler, called the new card “a game changer”.
“We are witnessing a growing trend in Australia, with consumers actively moving away from using cash in favour of electronic payments and card products,” he said.

Qantas says the Qantas Cash facility, with its pre-loading requirement, does not compete with the credit cards linked to its frequent flyer program. And it stresses that it is not moving into personal banking, saying MasterCard and other financial service providers will deliver the pre-paid component of the card, and an authorised deposit taking institution will hold the funds members load onto their cards.

“Qantas remains focused on running an airline and loyalty business,” the launch announcement states.

 

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