Federal Human Services Minister Joe Ludwig today said the government was looking for technology vendors to supply a new version of the Centrelink-issued BasicsCard that allows welfare recipients to access fundamental services.
The BasicsCard was launched in 2008 to allow recipients of government income support to buy (via the EFTPOS network) basic services such as food, clothes, medicines, children's supplies and basic household items, without being able to access luxury goods like alcohol, pornography, tobacco or gambling services.
Ludwig today said the initial BasicsCard contracts were due to expire in June 2010. "In preparation for this, the Australian Government is exploring a new point of sale solution to support the delivery of income management," he said in a statement today after announcing the initiative at the Cards and Payments Australiasia Conference in Sydney.
More than 16,000 customers have been issued with a BasicsCard and have spent more than $50 million on what Ludwig described as "priority goods and services". "The Australian Government wants a new solution to build on the impressive foundations of the BasicsCard," he said.
The BasicsCard does not contain a computer chip and uses simple EFTPOS magnetic swipe technology. Ludwig said the government intended to seek vendors through an open procurement process by the middle of 2008, with industry briefings to be conducted in April.