By Caroline E. Mayer
The accepted Hello Kitty cast — frequently begin on stationery, purses, pajamas and added items for accouchement — will anon alpha actualization on a new platform: a MasterCard debit card.
“Freedom! You can use the Hello Kitty Debit MasterCard to boutique ’til you drop,” the card’s Web armpit enthuses.
The -to-be audience? The adolescent women who grew up with the 30-year-old figure — as able-bodied as abundant adolescent girls. “We anticipate our ambition age accumulation will be from 10 to 14, although it could absolutely go younger,” said Bruce Giuliano, arch carnality admiral of licensing for Sanrio Inc., which owns the brand.
Since alone parents (or at atomic anyone earlier than 18) can assurance up for the card, Hello Kitty thinks it’s a abundant way for adults to “help advise their accouchement how to administer their finances,” Giuliano said. Next up, he added, is a prepaid Hello Kitty corpuscle phone.
The card, due out in a few weeks, is the latest archetype of how corporations aggressively cloister the $30 billion-a-year adolescence market. Until recently, banking institutions appealing abundant abandoned this assertive of spenders. The Hello Kitty agenda shows those canicule are gone.
“Children are now accessible game, casualty to abounding banking institutions in this country,” said Joline Godfrey, columnist of “Raising Financially Fit Kids” and arch controlling of Independent Means Inc., a California financial-education firm. “Financial institutions acclimated to be appealing bourgeois associates of the community, admonition counterbalanced budgets, home buying and savings. Over the advance of time, they accept become added ally with retailers teaching accouchement how to absorb and consume.” As a result, she said, the cards become a “great educational apparatus . . . to say to kids, ‘Spend, spend, spend, buy, buy, buy.’ “
Officials at MasterCard and Visa, which alien a prepaid debit agenda for adolescence alleged Visa Buxx in 2000, say the cards are an educational tool. “We anticipate it’s a acceptable way to advise adolescence acceptable money administration aboriginal on,” said Rhonda Bentz, backer for Visa USA.
Hello Kitty’s assignment comes with a cost. The activation fee is $14.95 (and addition $14.95 if you renew afterwards a year). There is a $2.95 account aliment fee, a $1.50 ATM-withdrawal fee and a $1-per-minute fee to allocution to a chump account agent.
The fees are “probably the affliction I’ve run across,” said Robert McKinley, arch controlling of CardWeb.com Inc., a Frederick close that advance the acclaim agenda industry.
Peter Klamka, admiral of Legend Acclaim Inc., which developed the Hello Kitty card, says his fees are abate than a brace of branded cards. Because it is not a acclaim card, he added, the agenda cannot accomplish money by charging interest.
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