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* One winning ‘Skrill Startup’ to be featured every week *

Global payments service Skrill today launched ‘Skrill Startups’, a programme to kick-start new businesses throughout Europe.

Initially, this will see one new European business being show-cased every week, and thousands receiving prepaid cards for free.

This comes as statistics show that despite SMEs accounting for 80% of jobs created in the EU in the past five years, entrepreneurship in the European countries is lower than in other regions worldwide.

As part of the Skrill Startups initiative, 500 businesses a month will get a Skrill Prepaid MasterCard®, with no card annual fee for the first year.

In addition, every week one business will be chosen as a European startup of the week.

Each featured start-up will be publicised in a PR and social media campaign to hundreds of thousands of potential customers, in addition to receiving €250 credit on a Skrill Prepaid MasterCard®.

The rules of the initiative are as follows:

* The programme covers European (including non EU) businesses that have been trading for less than one year. In addition, qualifying businesses must offer their products or services online, or be about to do so

* Every week Skrill will choose one business, which will receive a Skrill Prepaid MasterCard® with €250, as well as being publicised by Skrill

* Any business in any industry sector matching the above criteria can qualify for a Skrill Prepaid MasterCard®, with no annual fee for the first year

There are more details at skrillstartups.com

Though there are many European start-up success stories, the path to starting up a business in Europe isn’t always straight forward, with the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor showing that the EU’s rate of new business ownership and ‘Early Stage Entrepreneurial Activity’ is less than for other areas of the world.

According to Skrill’s Vice President of Consumer and Prepaid, Stuart Butler:

“Innovation and new business creation are key to when it comes to Europe’s economic recovery. And though some of the challenges faced by new businesses vary from country to country, many are also shared.

“In particular, the problem of getting access to banking or credit card facilities with no trading history, is one that many entrepreneurs throughout the continent can relate to.

“As a result, we’re waiving the first year’s annual fee for our Skrill Prepaid MasterCard® for thousands of new businesses, as well as highlighting a different European start-up every week. Through a marketing campaign, we will give each exposure to potential customers, as well as unearthing some of the most innovative new European businesses around.”

* The Skrill Story - from a start-up to a 35 million customer business *

Though a business with 35 million customers today, Skrill itself started life as a start-up.

From opening its doors as Moneybookers in 2001, people now use Skrill to send money in 40 countries and in over 200 countries and territories.

According to Stuart Butler, “Despite being a global business, we’ve never forgotten where we came from and products such as our pre-paid Skrill Prepaid MasterCard® have found a receptive audience among startups and freelancers.

"New businesses, sole traders and startups have found that the card helps them as its easy to get with no credit checks, commitments or minimum top-ups, while also giving them a way of controlling their business expenses easily and instantly.”

“The small business of today, can easily become the giant of tomorrow, and we thought it important to do what we can to give start-ups that all important extra push.”

ENDS

For further information - Dirk Singer, +44 (0)208 123 9541, skrill@therabbitagency.com

MasterCard is a registered trademark of MasterCard International Incorporated. The Card is issued by Wirecard Card Solutions Ltd (“WDCS”) pursuant to licence by MasterCard International Inc. WDCS is authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority to conduct electronic money service activities under the Electronic Money Regulations 2011 (Ref: 900051)

About Skrill

Skrill is one of Europe's largest online payments systems and among the world's largest independent digital wallet providers with 35 million account holders.

The Skrill Digital Wallet enables any customer to make online payments conveniently and securely without revealing personal financial data, as well as send and receive money online cost-effectively. Skrill’s mission is to become the first choice for online payments.

Skrill’s worldwide payment network offers businesses access to direct payment processing via 100 payment options in 200 countries and territories and 40 currencies through just one integration. Allowing everyone to pay and get paid globally.

Founded in 2001, Moneybookers Limited, now trading as “Skrill”, was the first e-money issuer to be authorised and regulated by the FCA. In 2007, Investcorp Technology Partners undertook the buyout of the company from its founders.

Published on: 8:00AM on 25th July 2013