Apr 16, 2010

UM Financial launches Islamic prepaid MasterCard

TORONTO---Islamic finance company UM Financial has launched a prepaid MasterCard debit card with no interest or credit facility. The card is targeted at members of Canada’s one million-strong Muslim community who wish to follow Shariah law, which prohibits the earning and paying of interest.

The iFreedom Plus MasterCard is being marketed by UM Financial. It is issued by Calgary-based DirectCash Bank and managed by Mint Technology, which currently operates prepaid card programs for Canadian Tire and MuchMusic. The card is personalized and can be used wherever MasterCard is accepted. Potential customers will apply for the cards on line and at community events.

Of course, Canadian Muslims wishing to avoid paying or earning interest could make use of any prepaid debit card available on the market. They could also avoid paying interest by paying off their credit card balance at the end of each month. However, according to UM, iFreedom is unique in that it is the first payment card in Canada to be approved as Halal (Arabic for ‘permissible’) by a panel of three Muslim religious scholars affiliated with the Usury-Free Association of North America (UFANA).

The iFreedom card has a C$20 purchase fee and a C$30 activation fee, but no further annual fees. It offers 1 percent cash-back on purchases over C$100 and has a lowered minimum age of 13 for supplementary cards.

The iFreedom Plus MasterCard also offers a 10 percent discount on Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways flights that are paid for with the card as well as other merchant offers. In addition, for every transaction of over C$20 billed to the card, UM say that one needy child in a developing country will be fed for a day through RS Foundation.

The RS Foundation is a Canadian-based, registered non-profit organization established in 2007 which aims to alleviate poverty, particularly with in the South Asian sub-continent.




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