The new payment card for refugees - what online retailers need to know now

Fatih-Kağan Taşkoparan

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In March, the traffic light coalition agreed on a joint design a legal basis for the nationwide introduction of the payment card for refugees and asylum seekers. The German Bundestag approved this draft last week: the payment card is intended to ease the burden on local authorities and government agencies, reduce the administrative burden and prevent transfers of state support to the countries of origin. We have researched for you how the payment card is used for online payments.

What will change with the new payment card?

Previously, state support was paid out in cash and directly to the respective local authorities or reception centers. This is now set to changeWith the new payment card, the money is to be transferred directly to the relevant banks, which in turn top up the accounts of the respective cards. In the form of a prepaid debit card, the card can then be used in stationary stores and for cash withdrawals, but can also be used online. But how exactly does this work? Are there any restrictions on the use of the card? And what do online retailers in particular need to bear in mind?

The restrictions

In general, additional functions or restrictions are a matter for the individual federal states. Technical processing, on the other hand, is to be regulated uniformly. In principle, however, the traffic light coalition agreed on the following points:

  • Online transfers or card-to-card transfers are not possible
  • Use of the card abroad is not possible
  • Overdrawing the card or linking an account is not possible
  • Online purchases can be made in principle
  • Online purchases outside the EU are excluded wherever possible
  • Cash withdrawal is only possible in Germany

The use of the payment card in online retail

In principle, the payment card can be used in online trading and does not differ from other prepaid debit cards in terms of payment processing. This means that payment processing for online merchants takes place as usual. Violations of restrictions on the use of the card are generally not possible, as any restrictions are already technically configured in advance. In this context, the Ampelkoalition is working with companies and service providers such as Givve and Paycenter, which in turn are responsible for the technical configuration and provision of the payment cards. For example, Paycenter is responsible for providing the cards in Bavaria and other municipalities in Saxony, Thuringia and Brandenburg. The contracts are awarded publicly.