By Mbatjiua Ngavirue WINDHOEK The launch of the new Standard Bank MTC credit card now offers people who never thought they would qualify for a credit card the opportunity to acquire one. In the past, credit cards were the exclusive preserve of high-income earners who owned fixed property, but this appears no longer to be the case. To qualify for the new Visa-backed credit card, applicants need only earn N$1 000 a month, meet normal credit requirements and have an MTC cell phone. Standard Bank and MTC say it will be possible to use the new credit card for all purchases a normal credit card is used for – both locally and internationally. The card is described as the first in Africa, although Standard Bank is planning a similar product in partnership with MTN in South Africa, while Vodacom is introducing one together with FirstRand Bank. Speaking at the launch yesterday, MTC Managing Director, Jose Antonio Ferreira, described some of the benefits of the new MTC Visa credit card. He said that apart from the ability to use the card worldwide, customers would enjoy other benefits not normally associated with a credit card. This includes giving 2% of all credit card expenditure back to customers in the form of MTC airtime credits. Ferreira explained the product is designed for customers who do not fit into traditional risk models of the banking community but are active mobile phone users. The costing infrastructure and benefits were therefore specially tailored to suit this market. He gave the assurance that all MTC’s current and future customers of both Tango and Connect will be eligible for these cards, where applicable. This presumably means as long as they have good credit records, and their names are not already well known at ITC. Ferreira mentioned the media attention the high cost structure in both the banking and telecommunications sector has received. “While we have both maintained that this cost infrastructure is necessary to develop sophisticated technology solutions in challenging environments, this product represents a significant evolution in the approach to the under-banked sector of the community,” he remarked. Standard Bank Managing Director, Theo Mberirua, emphasised the MTC credit card would give Namibians that previously did not qualify for credit cards in the past a chance to receive one. The card, he said, offers benefits such as point-of-sale transactions that will do away with the need to carry cash. In addition, it will provide free travel insurance, free death cover, cover for permanent disability as well as retrenchment cover. “We are determined to make a real difference, and are sure that this new credit card will make a difference in many people’s lives,” Mberirua said.