Cash on the cards for migrants
Sunday March 18, 2007
A new company plans to make money from economic migrants arriving in Britain by providing them with a debit card that can be used to withdraw cash from foreign bank accounts.
Tuxedo Money Solutions, which is backed by Ali Sarikhani, a British businessman born in Iran, is about to launch the product, called Tuxedo. It can also be loaded up in exchange for cash paid in at leading banks and building societies, and then used to purchase goods and services throughout the country. Cardholders can use it as a cashpoint card to withdraw money from ATMs.
It is backed by Maestro, a division of Mastercard, and licensed by the Financial Services Authority. Tuxedo intends to hand out application forms for the card at towns and cities where immigrants arrive. It will target eastern European workers and those from further afield, including the Indian subcontinent and the Far East. Many are paid in cash and find it difficult to open UK bank accounts, or are reluctant to do so – partly because some want to avoid tax.
Tuxedo will charge a small fee for each transaction. It claims that the average migrant has an annual disposable income of around 5,000. Around 4.9 million people born overseas live in the UK, although the card will be aimed at the minority who have arrived recently.
Net immigration is about 130,000 per year according to the government, but the true figure is probably far higher.