Mastercard, PFS and Starling Bank team up to offer a trusted alternative to cash to NHS volunteers

June 1, 2020 | London, UK | By Suman Hughes

Royal Voluntary Service selects two Mastercard issuers as a safer way for the critically vulnerable to pay

As National Volunteer Week gets underway, Royal Voluntary Service has identified two Mastercard issuers to provide trusted payment cards to NHS Volunteer Responders. These can be applied for by the critically vulnerable and those self-isolating to give to volunteers to pay for their shopping, in a safe and secure way.

NHS Volunteer Responders has been set up to support the NHS and the care sector during the COVID-19 outbreak. An “army” of 600,000 volunteers stepped up to support vulnerable people in England who are isolating from the virus. These volunteers are matched via the GoodSAM app with members of their community who need support to stay well at home. The help on offer ranges from support with grocery shopping and collecting prescriptions to ‘check in and chat’ phone calls.

The payment cards have been designed to be used as an alternative to cash and given to NHS Volunteer Responders to pay for the shopping of an individual who is isolating. Royal Voluntary Service recommends that balances are kept low on the cards, at around £45, and the card is returned to the individual with a receipt when the shopping is finished. The cards can be topped up with funds as frequently as needed.

To find out more about the payment options for NHS Volunteers see here.

Samantha Ward, Director of Services/Deputy CEO at Royal Voluntary Service said “The welfare of our volunteers and the people they support is an absolute priority for us. By implementing this new, safer way to pay, we are ensuring that all of these people feel comfortable and safe when parting with money as part of the NHS Volunteer Responders Scheme. We are delighted to be working with Mastercard, PFS and Starling to help us do this.”

Scott Abrahams, Senior Vice President, Business Development, UK & Ireland at Mastercard commented: “It is fantastic to be working in collaboration with Royal Voluntary Service and the NHS on such an important issue. Digital payments are a great option to help support the most vulnerable who may have no other way to pay for essentials during the lockdown. They can be reassured that they are using a simple, safe and secure method of payment.”

Lee Britton, CCO at PFS (a company of EML) stated: "We are honoured to be the sole prepaid issuer identified to work with the Royal Voluntary Service team on this incredible project that has captured the hearts and minds of the public. While COVID-19 has affected families worldwide, in England, we are privileged to be able to assist those who are most vulnerable in our society with a smart and simple FinTech solution. Alongside our friends at Starling Bank, we are delighted to champion this spirit of unity in the payments industry to assist citizens at this time."

Anne Boden, founder and CEO of Starling Bank said: “We wanted to find a practical solution to a very real problem, so we launched the Connected card to help our customers pay for supplies bought for them by trusted friends and neighbours without the hassle of transferring money or handling cash. It’s great to see the card being used by NHS Volunteer Responders, who are performing such a vital role.”

About the PFS prepaid card

For those who are unable to leave their homes and are reliant on volunteers, the use of a prepaid card can help them during self-isolation.

Prepaid cards can be used as an alternative to cash so they can be handed to the volunteer who can pay for shopping or for online purchases of food and other essential household items. Prepaid cards offer convenience and control over finances; the vulnerable person decides how much to top up and they can only be used at selective, authorised retailers, giving them further peace of mind.

Why it is helpful:

    • No credit checks.
    • Prepaid means you can never be overdrawn.
    • Ease of use in all retailers that accept Mastercard.
    • Keeps your PIN safe as Contactless is set at £45 so you don't need to share it with anyone.
    • Friends and family can easily top up the card via bank transfer, debit or credit card.
    • Check balance and cardholder history on the PFS cardholder portal.
    • ATM switched off for hygiene reasons.

About the Connected card by Starling Bank

The Connected card from Starling Bank is an extra debit card that can be added to a customer’s Starling account. Processed by Mastercard, it is widely accepted. It comes with a balance limit of £200, can only be used in physical stores only (ATMs, online payments and gambling merchants are blocked) and is totally free making it perfect for giving to trusted helpers essential items for those self-isolating.

Why it is helpful:

    • Easier spending - customers don’t need to worry about paying someone back or giving them your bank details
    • People who are self-isolating are in control of their money and can top up and manage transactions in the Starling app
    • Gambling, online shopping and ATM withdrawals are blocked 24/7 customer support for customers



Suman Hughes