Apr 12, 2010

Rêv Worldwide eyes Canadian prepaid card market

AUSTIN--Texas-based payments company Rêv Worldwide is looking to expand into the Canadian and US prepaid card and m-payments markets after the successful launch in March 2010 of an investment fund by backers MPower Ventures.

Founded by brothers Roy and Bertrand Sosa in June 2008, Rêv Worldwide has a proprietary processing platform and distribution network which can be used by financial institutions, telecoms operators and merchants for delivering mobile payment and prepaid card services.

The Sosas are also the founding partners of MPower Ventures, the primary investor behind Rêv Worldwide. The venture capital company was launched in Austin, Texas in 2006 with the aim of funding a portfolio of companies, which span international payments, mobile payments, retail financial services, and asset-building and investment products.

Rêv Worldwide already has operations in Australia, Mexico, Romania, India and Kosovo, where it works through a partner network of financial institutions, telecoms operators, merchants and distributors. In these markets, bank-issued prepaid cards are sold and loaded at partner retail locations. The cards work with software from Rêv’s sister company MPower Mobile.

In October 2009, Central Bank of India launched a Rêv-branded MasterCard virtual prepaid card in partnership with Rêv. In Romania, Rêv-branded prepaid Visa debit cards are used by customers of Raiffeisen Bank to make person-to-person payments using their cellphones.

Now Rêv Worldwide is seeking to bring its operations to Canada and the US, with Roy Sosa acting as CEO of the North American region and Bertrand Sosa as president.

According to Bertrand Sosa, Rêv is looking for Canadian partners who can use its technology for providing mobile person-to-person transfers, both domestically and also internationally to India and Mexico. These partners could be local banks and credit unions, mobile operators and retailers, he says.

“While there are large migrant communities in Canada and we see opportunities in the future to offer remittance products and international mobile transfers, we’re not just looking at the Canadian market from a pure remittance standpoint,” Bertrand Sosa says.

Sosa sees much broader opportunities, particularly in the virtual prepaid product arena. “We’re especially interested in helping Canadian banks to explore untapped opportunities around virtual gifting, where they can use online social networks to drive rapid consumer adoption,” he says. “We can also help retailers to collaborate with bank partners in providing mobile payment options for their customers,” he says.

The North American financing deal via the MPower Ventures II fund is notable because of the involvement of billionaire entrepreneur Billy Joe “Red” McCombs as the lead investor. McCombs was one of Forbes Magazine’s 400 Richest Americans in 2009.

Mpower says it was able to close the Venture II fund, but has not disclosed the total value of the capital raised. McCombs made a “multi-million dollar commitment to the firm’s mission,” Mpower Ventures says.




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