(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Getting the SFR Paycard up and running was mostly an easy experience. Going to the product website, and using Google Chrome which translates foriegn langueges on the fly, made it easy.
I went to the activate page, filled out the form, and found that I needed to use an address in France, so I did, using one I a normally a regular resident of and the card was active. That was a bit of a hurdle, but the card is for the "unbanked in France" or as a secondary credit card.
Loading money on it, well that was more of a challenge. Despite saying that any of the SFR phone recharge locations can sell users of the SFR Paycard a recharge coupon, it wasn't that easy. As a matter of fact, all three SFR sales points, including one SFR owned shop had either people or sales terminals that did not know how to sell a Paycard recharge coupon. That means Plan B-sending an interbank transfer from an account with my name on it which will be done this week, as there's no rush. Once I set up a "optimum" level account money can come from anyone, and I'll have a higher limit, but given this is more of an experiement I'm not so inclined to rush into it.
Given the unfortunate confusion on the part of the point of sale merchants and SFR's own shops not knowing how to recharge the card, I have contacted SFR Public Relations to try to get more light on that and other questions about the NFC and Chip N' Pin based debit card. Stay tuned.
Sidenote-in light of Travelex shutting down their card in the USA, MoneyCorp not having a prepaid card that can be sold to non UK residents yet, and the Orange prepaid card requiring too much advance ordering, tells me that the pre-paid debit card market for global travelers is both a challenge and an opportunity, that both MasterCard and Visa seem to want to play in, but are unable to easily execute on.