Ukash is a UK-based electronic money system that allows users to pay for online services without using their credit or debit cards or online banking.
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Ukash was founded in London in 2005 by William Scott Thomson, and for many years was a UK-only service. In 2006 the company decided to expand internationally, and within two years sales via Ukash had reached over £2 million.
Within another two years sales had grown to £7.2 million, and in 2011 Ukash won the Queen’s Award for Enterprise – an award it repeated in 2012, 2013 and 2014.
In February 2014 Ukash launched the Ukash MasterCard, a pre-paid cash card that could be used online, for real-world purchases and for ATM usage. This card can purely remain an online card (if there is no intention of using it for real-world purchases), or a physical version can be obtained if requested. The card can be used anywhere around the world where a MasterCard sign is displayed.
In November 2014, Ukash was purchased by Skrill, the second-largest international online payments company, behind PayPal. Skrill were already the owners of Paysafecard, an online payments system that was very similar to one offered by Ukash.
You have no need to have a Ukash account (in fact, there is no such thing as a Ukash account) to use Ukash.
Ukash exists in the form of voucher codes that can be purchased at any real-world retailer that display a Ukash sign. You can buy Ukash voucher codes at some ATMs as well.
To obtain your code, you purchase a Ukash card. This card is loaded up with money, and you are given a unique, 19-digit code as a representation of that cash. The card has no worth itself, and can be discarded once the code has been used.
When it comes to using Ukash online, at the point of purchase you simply enter the 19-digit code to cover the cost of the services being bought. The amount of money covered by the code must equal or be in excess of the amount being charged.
If the amount of money generated by the code is in excess of the amount of money needed, then a new Ukash code is generated that represents the amount of money remaining once the old code has been used.
Ukash codes cannot be re-used and are non-recoverable. In that respect, Ukash acts just like cash, in that if you lose cash or have it stolen, it’s usually gone for good, just as with a Ukash code.
The Ukash company itself and Ukash retailers make their money by charging a little extra on top. For example, a £10 Ukash code may actually cost £12.50.
Anyone who wishes to find an outlet that issues Ukash codes can do so using the Ukash website. Some online retailers offer the sale of Ukash vouchers, but many of them are scam sites. It’s always safer to purchase Ukash codes from real-world retailers.
Ukash is primarily intended for those who otherwise do not have a means of using money online i.e. people who do not have Visa or MasterCard credit or debit cards, or do not have a bank account or any other means of making electronic online payments. It’s also for those who are unwilling to give their credit or debit card or online banking details to online retailers, fearful of the risk of phishing or identify theft.
Currently, Ukash is only available in the following countries:
Europe: Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine and the United Kingdom.
Middle East: Bahrain, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.
Africa: Algeria. Egypt, Ghana, Libya, Morocco, Nigeria, South Africa and Tunisia.
North America: Canada and Mexico
South America: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, Peru and Uruguay.
Oceania: Australia and New Zealand.
Central America: Costa Rica.
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