As well as this, the firm confirmed that Visa will distribute prepaid payment cards to refugees arriving in France.
Rooh Savar, Co-founder and CEO of Welcome.Place, commented: “In 2009, when I arrived in France as a refugee, I didn’t have a bank account while I had a few income assets. But when I had no more cash, I was not able to buy anything… After a few months, I was finally able to open a bank account, but without the card that would allow me to withdraw money from ATMs or pay in stores or online.
“This situation lasted for over a year and negatively impacted my personal and professional life. We created Welcome.Place to make sure that every newcomer could have access to banking solutions suited to his/her situation.”
The pilot project will initially be focused on mainly Ukrainian refugees who have arrived in France since the start of the war in Ukraine in February 2022. Since then, an estimated 8 million people have fled Ukraine, according to the United Nations, with around 120,000 arriving in France now registered under official national assistance programmes.
Welcome.Place was established in 2022 as a community-driven neobank to provide simple, inclusive and accessible financial solutions for all newcomers to help them settle as soon as possible.
NGOs and companies can offer their newcomer community banking and financial solutions provided by Welcome.Place and its partners.
As part of its “Welcome Package”, which is distributed to newcomers in France, refugees and immigrants will receive a prepaid Visa card that is pre-loaded with funds to facilitate spending on a range of items and services within their first weeks in the country.
Caroline Span, Co-founder of Welcome.Place, added: “Welcome.Place’s goal is to facilitate and promote social and economic inclusion of newcomers in Europe, who have had to leave their belongings behind. In the first stage, our goal is to provide a service that assists 50,000 Ukrainian and other refugees by the end of 2023.
“This new card can transform the lives of refugees arriving in Europe, empowering them with the dignity to buy what they need through a card that looks like any other bank card. The economic and social inclusion of newcomers and refugees normally takes 5 years to achieve – with the help of Enfuce and Visa, we can reduce this inclusion period to just one year.
“We are excited and proud to have created this pilot in collaboration with one of the leading NGOs in the world and look forward to the impact it will have.”
Katherine Brown, VP and Head of Inclusive Impact & Sustainability of Visa, also stated: “This pilot represents an incredibly important step in advancing the financial and social inclusion of displaced people in Europe. Accelerating access to the mainstream monetary system improves prospects for rebuilding a life in a new environment, and therefore Visa is proud to work with Enfuce to enable a Welcome.Place to those affected by forced displacement.”
Led by co-founders and co-CEOs Monika Liikamaa and Denise Johansson, Enfuce offers a fast alternative to existing issuer processing platforms, with the agility to quickly add modules and services as and when needed.
Denise Johansson, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Enfuce, said: “We’re delighted to partner with Welcome.Place to assist them with the vital work they’re doing, and with our partners Epassi and Visa, we’re committed to ensuring refugees have access to the funds they need through a prepaid card that looks and works like a mainstream bank card.
“Enfuce’s First Aid card has been designed to help aid organisations distribute money to the people who need it, immediately, securely, and in full compliance with regulatory demands. Not only does the card programme give Welcome.Place full control of how donated funds are distributed and spent, most importantly it gives refugees the means to rebuild their lives and become financially included.”
Monika Liikamaa, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Enfuce, stated: “Whether it’s through conflict or climate emergencies, millions of people depend on humanitarian assistance that can be delivered quickly and securely. Refugees may have a fear of appearing vulnerable, or feel shame about waiting in line for cash hand-outs. When they have suffered so much already, it’s vital to give aid recipients dignity and privacy.
“Enfuce’s First Aid card is an example of how modern, integrated payment solutions can transform humanitarian aid delivery, improve operational speed and security, and promote financial inclusion.”