A process which provides electronic access to pre-paid funds for cash or payment for goods and services. A card is issued to a customer with a value selectable by the customer. The card has a magnetic stripe with an encoded card number including a bank identification number (BIN) and an account number. The central card processor establishes a zero balance database including the card numbers, but with blank fields for the customer data and the value of the account. When a customer purchases a card, the sales agent transmits to the central database computer which fills in the blanks in the database, activating the account, and transmits an acknowledgement signal back to the sales agent. The customer can immediately use the card in ATM or other remote terminals to acquire cash or purchase goods and services. The customer inputs a PIN number which is provided with the card, or a customer selected alternative PIN number.