‘Magic’ makes new debit card appear

NBA legend and businessman Earvin “Magic” Johnson has a new endeavor: the MAGICCash Visa debit card. It’s the newest prepaid debit card on the market, being offered to an estimated 70 million to 100 million credit-challenged consumers in the U.S. The card is a partnership between Johnson’s Magic Cards International Inc., a subsidiary of Celebrity Cards International Inc., and Visa USA. Johnson says the card meets his entrepreneurial goals to “address all social, health, and economic issues of the underserved” and hopes that the MAGICCash card will make “life easier for those who have been overlooked and [considered] not bankable.”

Todd Brockman, vice president of prepaid products for Visa, reports that the company has seen a 240% increase in prepaid debit cards since last year. In a recent study conducted by San Francisco-based management consulting firm Edgar, Dunn and Company, consumers say that debit cards are the preferred card in their wallet. The study found that African Americans are twice as likely to prefer debit cards over credit cards.

According to Anthony De Meo, president and CEO of Celebrity Cards and Magic Cards, while the company hopes to appeal to the 45% of Americans with maxed-out credit, they are particularly interested in reaching African Americans and immigrants trying to establish a credit history. MAGICCash customers will be charged a one-time fee of $29.95, plus monthly fees of $3.95 to $4.95. Since purchases made with the MAGICCash card are guaranteed by prepaid accounts, cardholders will not accrue interest.

Johnson is not without competition. Business mogul Russell Simmons’s RushCard began its pilot launch in February 2003.

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