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paysafecard is an electronic payment method for predominantly online shopping and is based on a pre-pay system. Paying with paysafecard does not require sharing sensitive bank account or credit card details. Using paysafecard is comparable to paying with cash in a shop. According to the company's claims, it is currently available in over 37 countries in Europe, Australia, North- and South America, although merchants claimed to be US distributors (including major stores such as Fry's Electronics) may not carry the card or be unaware of its existence.
paysafecard works by purchasing a PIN code printed on a card, and entering this code at webshops. A PIN code can be used multiple times, and multiple PIN codes can be bought.
paysafecard.com Wertkarten AG is based in Vienna, Austria. The company was founded in 2000. It operates subsidiaries in Germany, Gibraltar, Mexico, the Netherlands, Argentina, Switzerland, Great Britain and the USA. The board of directors includes Michael Müller (chairman), Udo Müller and Bernd Egger.
In 2002 paysafecard is not only available as physical card but also as eVouchers. Since 2004, it has also been available for purchase online. In 2006, paysafecard was awarded EU funding (eTEN) to help its international expansion. In 2008, Prepaid Services Company Ltd., a subsidiary of the paysafecard group was issued an e-money license by the British Financial Services Authority (FSA). This authorised it to issue e-money throughout Europe.
The company is now present in 39 countries at over 450,000 sales outlets in Europe, Australia and North- and Southamerica. paysafecard can be used at 4,000 online shops.
In 2009, paysafecard was voted as both the "Best Prepaid Company Outside USA" as well as the "Leading Prepaid Organisation" by the Prepaid Awards.
In August 2011, paysafecard bought Dutch payment provider Wallie. In February 2013, Skrill, one of the largest payment services providers in Europe completed the acquisition of paysafecard.com Wertkarten AG.
paysafecards are normally sold as eVouchers (uniquely numbered receipts from in-store sales terminals) in Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom, USA. Over 4,000 webshops currently accept paysafecard.
Customers purchase paysafecard in the form of a 16-digit PIN from sales outlets or from authorised online PIN shops. The amounts available are €10 and €100. Sales outlets for prepaid cards are typically newsagents, petrol stations, pharmacies, supermarkets, electrical retailers and vending machines.
When paying in an online shop, the user enters the 16 digit number and the amount tendered is deducted from the paysafecard balance. Hence, the same PIN code can be used multiple times. For larger sums it is possible to combine up to ten paysafecard PINs for a total amount of up to €1,000.
The current balance of each paysafecard as well as its transaction history and production date can be viewed at the official site by entering the respective 16 PIN code.
Card issuing as well as checking the balance of a PIN or its payment history online are free. No fees are charged within the first 12 months from the time of purchase. Twelve months after purchasing a paysafecard for the first time customers will be charged an administrative fee of €2 per month, which will be automatically deducted from their credit.
There are charges for purchases made in euros but not accurate. Payments for goods or services in other currencies are converted into euros at the conversion rate at the time of purchase. The conversion fee varies depending on the original currency and end currency and it varies from country to country. The currency conversion rates for foreign currencies are always available on the paysafecard website.
A reimbursement of credit remaining on a paysafecard PIN is always possible. This requires the customer to provide their personal details, a copy of a valid form of photographic identification, bank account details and the details of the paysafecard PIN in question. In some cases, a reimbursement fee of €7.50 will be deducted from the remaining paysafecard credit.
Shops accepting paysafecard have costs as well, but paysafecard.com does not give a clear and complete overview of the costs.
paysafecard claims that more than 4,000 webshops accept paysafecard from across the world. Those fall mainly into the following categories: online games/gaming (including browser games, skill games, community games), music download sites, telecommunication services, gambling sites and travel.
According to paysafecard.com, there are over 450,000 sales terminals worldwide.
Because it is possible to buy PIN codes with cash, a certain level of anonymity is automatically guaranteed, as well as a limit to the amount of money that can be lost by accident or fraud.
Like all systems that only require entering data on a website, it is possible to obtain this data (here: PIN codes) by creating a website that looks like the official one and tricking users to enter their data on that website. This is possible with phishing techniques. It is also possible for fraudulent webshops to not link to the official payment site but to a fraudulent similar looking website at checkout phase.
In 2012 paysafecard reported the use of their services was being taken advantage of by the spread of malware categorized as ransomware, stating "The BKA/GEMA computer virus demands the users of affected computers pay a "fine" and threatens to erase their hard drives". paysafecard suggests to remove related viruses and trojans by following instructions provided by Botcrawl.com and other websites.
The paysafecard service has received largely negative reviews online. The majority of complaints from customers state that their paysafecard credit has been frozen without warning upon the first attempt to use it and that paysafecard customer service will only refund the credit upon being supplied with photographic identification, full home address and bank account details, contrary to the implied objective of guaranteed anonymity.
Other disputes between paysafecard and their customers have arisen due to credit which is alleged to have disappeared from a paysafecard PIN number immediately after purchase, arising the possibility that duplicate PIN numbers can be allotted to multiple customers simultaneously. As of August 2014, paysafecard has a "very low" Trustpilot rating of 2.9/10 and a Review_Centre rating of 1.4/5.
- Interview with Neil Steinhardt, November 2011
- Comparison of results returned by https://www.paysafecard.com/en-us/buy/find-sales-outlets/sales-outlets/?keywords=San+Jose%2C+CA+95134%2C+United+States and http://www.frys.com/search?search_type=regular&sqxts=1&cat=&query_string=paysafe retrieved on 8/9/2014 further confirmed by a personal inquiry at several local stores claimed to be distributors.
- Párhonyi, Róbert, study on micropayment systems, page 9
- BKA/GEMA computer virus - demands the payment of a "fine" by paysafecard