MegaFon hopes its customers will turn their mobile phone accounts into bank accounts as it unveiled a new debit card.

The Russia-based operator has teamed up with MasterCard and Round bank for the launch of the MegaFon Card, which will be available from 1 October.

Customers will be able to pay for goods and services with the contactless card wherever MasterCards are accepted, and transfer money to other MegaFon subscribers commission free.

Interest will be paid monthly on account balances at an annual rate of eight percent.

The partners have also teamed up with a number of retailers to offer 10 percent off purchases made with the card.

Customers top up their mobile phone accounts in the usual way.

MegaFon subscribers can apply for the card at the operator’s retail stores.

Those on the operator’s All Inclusive tariffs get the card for free; other subscribers must pay 99 rubles.

Each account, which can be accessed by a dedicated app and website, can have up to 10 cards linked to it.

MegaFon CEO Sergey Soldatenkov said: “MegaFon has given its customers the unique opportunity to make free use of their mobile balance: pay for purchases, transfer money and earn interest.

“We already have more than 76 million subscribers; all they need to do is get a card, and with it, the key to the money on their mobile account.”

Alexey Malinovsky, General Manager of MasterCard in Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus and Armenia, added: “The spread of cashless payments is good for business, consumers and the country overall – this is why in Russia we are making every effort for e-payments to replace cash, and for payment technologies to be as widely accessible as possible.”

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