Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Holidays from the Prepaid Card Expo!

We're going to be taking a much needed break from the world of prepaid cards to celebrate the holidays with our family and friends. A huge "Thank You" to you, our loyal readers for your insight, news and communication about our shared prepaid experience. We look forward to 2009 and all of its glorious opportunity!

Thanks again and have a very joyous holiday season.



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Monday, December 22, 2008

Best of Prepaid Card Expo 2008

As 2008 draws to a close, let's look back at the top five posts from this year:

Open-Loop Prepaid In Retail: Expanding Consumer Payment Options

edo Interactive introduces Facecard

Paypal Releases Prepaid Debit Card

NETELLER Launches Net+™ Virtual Prepaid Card by MasterCard

Good News for the Prepaid Industry



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Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Range gets a prepaid card

At The Range, a retail chain in the UK, a new prepaid MasterCard is available. They are the first retailers in the UK to launch a prepaid MasterCard.

Chris Dawson, the CEO, believes it is a great time to enter into this part of the finance sector.
"People would think that I am mad to be moving into the finance sector at present, but the opportunities could not be greater. People are looking to better manage their money and a Range Card provides you with the ability to do just that."



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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Bank in Australia giving away prepaid cards for Christmas

St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla National Bank of Australia has a new prepaid MasterCard that it'll be giving away to clients for the Christmas season.

Marketing Officer Sheridan Hendrickson had this to say about the new prepaid card promotion
“We have a suite of card services available but this gift card is yet another option for everyone to enjoy banking at National. It is very ideal for the Christmas Season and may be used by persons who may not be able to hold a card under different circumstances. It is nothing like what has been given before; it is more flexible and can be used anywhere.
"

Read more here.



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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Future of Cards in Romania

At Wall Street of Romania, they look at the growing market that involves prepaid, debit and credit cards. While prepaid cards are not yet popular in this country, they will soon be a viable option for Romanians looking for an option with a payment card. They've only recently begun to utilize debit cards. For an in depth look at the payment card market in Romania, read here.



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Monday, December 15, 2008

Why people use prepaid cards

In a recent survey at PreCash, detailed here at StopChex.com, they reveal the top five reasons people use prepaid cards. With over 75 million Americans using prepaid cards, the results as to why these cards are used:

1. To pay bills
2. They wanted a Visa card
3. They wanted direct deposit
4. To avoid carrying cash
5. To shop online



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Friday, December 12, 2008

Entertainment and Dining Prepaid cards most popular for work rewards

In a recent article at Manage Smarter, they look at how businesses are rewarding their employees by giving them gift cards, and most popular are dining gift cards. Entertainment gift cards came in fourth. They're a popular gift solution because it isn't something the employee would normally buy for themselves and they're able to include their family in the reward.

Some prepaid card companies have seen the demand for dinner and a movie or coffee and download cards increase.

Prepaid solutions companies like First Data can even arrange to combine the dining and entertainment on the same card. First Data's Landsverk has seen not only seen dinner-and-a-movie cards being embraced, but also coffee-and-a-download cards more recently.



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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Coffee Republic starts prepaid card and loyalty program

Coffee Republic, a coffee chain based in the UK, has teamed with sQuid eMoney Service to start a prepaid card and loyalty program for its stores. They intend for the prepaid cards to replace cash purchases in the fast-food market. The service is arleady available in London, but will expand to other stores early next year.

Peter Breach, Coffee Republic chairman, had this to say about the new program:
“The sQuid eMoney service gives us the ability to reward our customers at the same time as making their life easier at the point of purchase. We wanted to move on from the loyalty-only card; we needed contactless, and an ability to extend an online relationship with our customers meant that sQuid was the obvious partner.”

Read more here.



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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Prepaid cards provide rewards for customers

Print Pelican is offering prepaid Visa gift cards to their customer who spend over $250 with them before December 14. For more information, click here.



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Tuesday, December 9, 2008

New ruling by Federal Deposit Insurance Corp opens new questions

The American Banker has commentary on the new ruling that affects the funds in open-loop prepaid card accounts.

John L. Douglas, a partner in the Atlanta law firm Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker LLP had this to say about the new ruling:

"It is one thing to say there is a deposit and there is insurance. That in and of itself is not all that big of a deal. The other issue that banks and program managers need to start worrying about really is: If you are going to create an insured-deposit relationship with a customer, what other regulatory requirements do you need to be worrying about as well? I don't know the answer."

Read more here.



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Monday, December 8, 2008

MiCash's new reloadable debit card

MiCash has a new reloadable debit card that allows card holders to use the card in electronic purchases, pay bills, ATM cash withdraws, and transfer money internationally. It also allows them to transfer money card to card or card to cash worldwide for a flat fee.

Daniel Levinas, the President and CEO of MiCash, Inc. had this to say about the card:
"We utilize world class technology to provide fair-priced, value-added financial services, like our international money transfer service. This unique money remittance service provides immigrants with an affordable, safe and convenient way to send money to family in another country."

Read more here.



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Friday, December 5, 2008

Popularity of prepaid cards growing in Australia

There's a great article at the Sydney Morning Herald that discusses the growing popularity of open-loop prepaid cards is Australia. The Heritage Building Society has issued 500,000 cards sin 2006.

Read the article here.



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Thursday, December 4, 2008

New German system allows for instant credit cards

First Data with PLUS Finanz Service has started a new program where customers can apply and instantly receive a credit card. This new program, which is available in Germany, has four participating electronic retailers who can use self-service terminals to enter their application data, their credit is assessed immediately and a credit limit is assigned to each card. Cards are then embossed and presented to consumers on site. There are plans to extend this program to 80 hypermarket locations who will also have the opportunity to co-brand the card. Read more here.



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Wednesday, December 3, 2008

iPhone App can personalize giftcards

At All Pay News, they reveal a new iPhone/iTouch app that allows users to select, personalize and purchase gift cards without leaving the application.

Gary Krow, Chief Executive Officer of GiftCertificates.com had this to say about the new App:
"GiftCertificates.com is all about the freedom of choice, and delivering superior value and service to our customers, especially during the holiday season. By making it easier for our customers to access the GiftCertificates.com marketplace, the GiftCards application enhances our customers' online shopping experience and positions us to better serve them in the mobile future."



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Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Neovia acquires new prepaid payment services unit

IDT Corp sold its prepaid payment services unit to Neovia for $15.05 million in cash. They did this in an effort to get rid of departments that weren't making money and to better streamline their business. Read more here.



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Monday, December 1, 2008

The State of the Prepaid Market in Europe

The team at Prepaid Expo Europe has recently put together the free webinar The State of the Prepaid Market in Europe which will take place on Thursday, January 8th from 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM EST. John Goodale, Director of Card Management Solutions, TSYS Global Services, will be presenting on the state of the prepaid market in Euorpe. Here’s a brief description of the webinar:

The industry press is reporting the expansion of the prepaid market across several diverse and emerging industry sectors and Europe is being heralded as the next big market in terms of prepaid.But is it? What are Europeans really thinking as they watch the route taken by prepaid cards globally...from the gift market to everyday usage.

John Goodale of TSYS will discuss the state of the current prepaid market in Europe and offer his insights into its development and future. He will discuss which countries are in the lead in terms of readiness and which countries lag as well as the applications of closed loop versus open loop prepaid and where the logical fits will be in the key European markets.

Be sure to look for more news and web seminars from Prepaid Expo Europe in Vienna, Austria 29 June - 1 July 2009.

https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/619356298



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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Network Branded Prepaid Card Association released video

The NBPCA recently released a video that emphasizes they believe that the sale of branded gift cards will remain steady throughout this holiday season despite economic troubles facing the US. Read more here.




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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Gift cards are spreading

On news that gift cards continue to gain popularity as presents, more and more companies are creating systems where their customers can use these gift cards. In the report which we covered yesterday, there was a section that mentioned that some Americans are using prepaid cards as a way to budget. A newspaper in Naples, Florida, Platinum Dry Cleaners announced that one local dry cleaning firm has begun gift card services for their dry cleaning stores. What do you think of the growing popularity of gift cards to practical places will do for the gift card industry?



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Monday, November 24, 2008

Giftcard survey released

Last week, Chase announced the results of a survey that included 850 American adults, and it revealed that gift cards continue to stay popular. Nine out of the ten respondents had either bough tor received a gift card within the past 12 months.

Other interesting findings included:

- Typically, consumers spent more than the amount of the gift card when they are redeemed, with 85 percent adding an average of $17.70 out of their own wallets.
- Gift card buyers who purchased a gift card within the past 12 months bought 4.7 cards for others, in addition to two cards for themselves.
- 82 percent of users said that a discount for the purchaser's use when buying the gift card would make them somewhat or much more likely to purchase gift cards.
- Free specialized gift packaging for cards is a strong purchase motivator as well (61 percent)

Read more here.



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Friday, November 21, 2008

Networkworld: Starhome Launches Prepaid Mobile Service in Africa


Starhome, a mobile phone roaming services provider, has launched its Prepaid Anywhere service in Africa to take advantage of the continent's high rate of prepaid subscribers, which stands at 90 percent to 95 percent.
The number of roaming agreements in Africa is low because the agreements are expensive and complex to implement, noted Starhome marketing officer Amy Daniel.

The key challenge for African operators wishing to provide roaming solutions to prepaid customers is their dependence on CAMEL (Customized Applications for Mobile Enhanced Logic) technology. Operators must enter into bilateral agreements with one another in order to offer CAMEL-based solutions, and these agreements require customers to pay a deposit --US$500 in Kenya, for example -- for roaming service.


Read the rest of this article here.



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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Prepaid Calling Card Settlement Provides $75,000 for Institute

From Foster Folly News

TALLAHASSEE, FL – Business Telecommunications Services, Inc., also known as ADMA Telecom, Inc. must now fully deliver the total amount of long distance telephone minutes as advertised and disclose all applicable fees and charges. The settlement also provides for a total of $75,000 to be donated to The Hispanic Institute, which assisted the Attorney General’s Office with its investigation into the prepaid calling card industry.“I am pleased the higher standards in place within the calling card industry will benefit many of our residents who were using these cards to communicate with family and loved ones,” said Attorney General McCollum.ADMA is the 12th company to reach a settlement with the Attorney General over issues related to the prepaid calling card industry. The agreement requires the company to cease any potentially deceptive advertisements, provide 100 percent of the minutes advertised, and submit to three years of auditing by the Attorney General’s Office to ensure that it is following the terms of the agreement. Further, as part of the settlement agreement, the company will provide funding of $25,000 per year for three years to The Hispanic Institute to support its investigative and monitoring efforts in this industry.

For more information, please click here.



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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

FDIC: Prepaid cards qualify for deposit insurance

From CreditCards.com:


People who have their payroll deposits, government benefit checks and other payments loaded onto prepaid cards may take comfort in a recent ruling by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.
Amounts stored on prepaid or
stored value cards may be covered under FDIC insurance for up to $250,000 per account, the FDIC ruled in a legal opinion issued Nov. 13.
The ruling came after a coalition of consumer groups appealed to FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair in September to take steps to prevent consumers from losing money stored on prepaid cards or gift cards if an issuer (such as a retail store) or a bank holding the funds goes out of business.
The FDIC ruled on only one part of the request -- the issue dealing with banks that hold funds stored on prepaid cards.



For more information, please click here.



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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Currency cards reports

An interesting report at Easier.com states that men are 4 times as likely as women to have foreign currency arranged ahead of time before business trips than women. With all the instability in the current world markets, it's beneficial for companies to send their employees to other countries with pre-loaded cards.


Jonathan Bennett, Head of Corporate, Travelex says:

“Travelling abroad is often a necessary and can be an expensive investment for business today. Purchasing foreign exchange or loading a prepaid currency card in advance means businesses can exercise better control of their cash flow, lock-in better rates and avoid being vulnerable to hefty ATM or overseas usage charges. However, our research shows that many do not have a robust foreign exchange system in place.

Recently exchange rates have fluctuated wildly that makes companies more vulnerable to paying substantially more due to the time it takes for expenses to be submitted and paid. For many businesses this means losing a significant amount of money – particularly if they are processing a high volume of expenses.

Business travel solutions such as a Corporate Cash Passport card that locks in a rate or ordering foreign exchange in advance help to manage these costs, saving businesses time and money – particularly pertinent in the current economic climate. We would urge businesses that don’t have an effective foreign exchange system in place to speak to a specialist with the knowledge and ability to meet their business needs for an overseas business travel solution.”




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Monday, November 17, 2008

Prepaid Wireless Service Will Thrive in 2009

Prepaid wireless is booming and expected to boom in 2009. According to this article at Fierce Wireless:

The data shows a growth rate of 14 percent for 2009 in the prepaid market, compared with 4 percent for postpaid. The carriers are also seeing some returns in the market; T-Mobile USA had 370,000 prepaid subscribers in the third quarter, up from 143,000 in the year-ago period. As credit has tightened up, prepaid may look like a more attractive option to customers that still allows them to keep their wireless phone, according to Boost.

For more information, click here.



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Friday, November 14, 2008

Loyalty programs for small businesses

All Pay News recently informed us about Sticky Street, a new service that will allow smaller companies to begin to take advantage of prepaid cards. This new system allows smaller companies to set up an entire gift card balance checking online without the use of any hardware. For more information, read here.



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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Holiday gift cards get an extra boost

With spending expected to be down this holiday season, some companies are trying to spin prepaid gift cards into a new tool they can sell. The Christian Science Monitor reports on two specific stores specializing their cards with add-ons to reach their target market. Best Buy has a new gift card, where starting at $50, it has speakers built in and can function as a mini boom box. Target also has a new gift card that comes as a digital camera, along with 40 free prints.

Have you considered something like this for your company? What do you think consumers reactions will be?



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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Holiday online spending

At the Ecommerce Journal, research shows that one in five transactions online this holiday season will use an alternative payment process such as PayPal, eBill Me, prepaid cards or other online services. The total amount of money that is expected to be spent this way is $7.8 billion, or 18% of the $42.8 billion projected this holiday season.



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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

New prepaid card store online

According to Manage Smarter, a new online prepaid card store has opened. RewardCardStore.com is a place where companies can customize gift cards to fit their needs.

Tamara Carlton, product manager for AEIS had this to say about the new online store:
"RewardCardStore.com is ideal for small businesses and those individuals making transactional orders. They can log on, register for an account, set up a portfolio and place and order in five minutes. All of the cards are uniquely branded. We analyzed the needs of our customers and the demands of the market. Gas prices are high right now, so people look at the Gas Card as a great incentive. People also enjoy going out to eat, so we have The Restaurant Card. We launched products that will motivate the cardholders. So far the response has been positive, and there have been repeat visits."



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Monday, November 10, 2008

A prepaid card for unbanked Americans

The New York Times Magazine took a look this weekend at how the RushCard provides an easy way for those who are unbanked to manage their funds. With an estimated 10 million Americans without a bank account, it provides a sense of belonging in America's culture where plastic has become a status symbol. Read more here.



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Friday, November 7, 2008

PreCash of Houston grows 600%

All Pay News reports that with Americans using prepaid Visa and MasterCard prepaid cards to replace traditional credit cards in this time of economic turmoil, PreCash of Houston, a prepaid cards distribution company, has increased grown 600%.

John Chaney, Chairman and CEO of PreCash, Inc. had this to say about the reason behind the growth, "Prepaid debit cards, like our Vision card, help cash-paying consumers access financial services they otherwise wouldn't be able to use. Many consumers use prepaid debit cards to manage finances while still being able to pay bills online; reserve rental cars or airline tickets; pay for gas at the pump and more."



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Thursday, November 6, 2008

Economics of payment cards: A status report

I recently came across the report "Economics of payment cards: A status report," written by Wilko Bolt and Sujit Chakravorti. The use of payment cards, which includes debit, credit and prepaid cars, has increased from 43% of payments to 56% of payments from 1999 to 2005. Europe has seen the same trend, as use of cards for payment has increased 140% from 1987 to 2004. Its a great look at how payments are being collected and how stores have adjusted to accommodate their users.



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Wednesday, November 5, 2008

States using gift cards to promote better healthcare

In a recent article at ABC News, they examined how different state governments and programs are using gift cards encourage Americans to stay healthy. The article pointed out that the CDC offered gift cards to influential speakers in the gay and lesbian community to increase awareness on HIV and AIDS.

The Illinois State Department offered $50 gas cards to parents who signed their children up for health screenings. In Kansas, the Kansas Health Policy Authority gave $50 gift cards to state employees who filled out an online health assessment. Both the employees and state benefited, as then the Health Policy Authority could better determine what services they could offer to better serve their employees.



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Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Celebrities leave their marks on gift cards

This holiday season, you can choose to buy a gift card that's image was hand-drawn by a celebrity, some including, Christina Aguilera, Nicole Kidman, Jerry Rice, or Tim Allen. GiftCardLabs.com has issued a line of celebrity-designed holiday gift cards, and with each gift card purchase, they'll donate $1 to Marine Toys for Tots. Find out more here.



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Monday, November 3, 2008

Macerich looks to join the green trend

Macerich recently announced its partnership with American Express to distribute the "Give Green" gift card, and AllPay News took a look. Looking to target the 82% of women who feel better about helping the environment, this American Express gift card will contribute money with every purchase, and donate up to $100,000 with this new program. Gift cards can be redeemed wherever American Express credit cards are taken.



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Friday, October 31, 2008

ShopNPay enhances prepaid cards

ShopNPay announced that it's releasing five enhanced versions of their debit cards. Each card caters specifically to certain customers needs.

One of them is a general purpose reloadable card, the second is a loan card, the third a gift card and the fourth a remittance card geared at consumers interested in receiving money from abroad. The fifth new Sterling Bank card is a classic debit card which – like the four prepaid cards in the suite – can be used for purchases at over 70.000 Visa-accepting locations in the Philippines and over 29 million worldwide.



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Thursday, October 30, 2008

New Deal in Branded Prepaid Cards

Prepaid Card Holding, will now be offering a branded prepaid card with these benefits: no money loading fees, no monthly fee, no card insurance fee, and no card activation fee. It will be released through one of the company's subsidiaries as noted in this news article. Bruce Berman from Prepaid Card Holding had this to say regarding the new deal:

"Prepaid cards are in their infancy right now and a few years from now as this industry matures we will be known as the company that has always given the consumer a fair shake. I can look any of our cardholders in the eye and know we delivered them a much needed product at a fair price."



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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

AEIS and FiCentive Agreement

AEIS, a joint venture between American Express Travel Related Services Company Inc. and Maritz Holdings Inc., has now entered into an agreement with FiCentive as reported here. Under the agreement, FiCentive can sell consumers prepaid credit cards with the American Express logo using AEIS patented DirectSpendSM process. As the CEO of FiCentive, Louis Hoch, stated:

"The success of our customers creates success for FiCentive. That customer success is delivered by our highly flexible prepaid solutions which are focused on practical, convenient, and intelligent applications. We are very proud to partner with AEIS to be able to resell prepaid card solutions carrying the prestigious American Express brand."



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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

NZ Attempts To Crack Down on Crimnals

The New Zealand Herald will report tomorrow that a call to register prepaid cards to reduce criminal activity by the police has been deemed an “unnecessary intrusion into people's lives,” by Auckland Council for Civil Liberties president Barry Wilson. According to Wilson,

“this was not just a case where only criminals would have something to fear from being registered. Cellphones are lost or stolen so often, and they are also passed on or sold at garage sales on a regular basis," Mr Wilson said. "If people who end up with the phones then use it for criminal activity the original registered owner can get caught up in a police inquiry and that can be very stressful."
Mr Wilson wondered if such a register would require anyone who sells or hands a phone on to go through paperwork similar to that needed for vehicles."That would just require another level of bureaucracy, and it would be yet another intrusion on people's privacy."


What do you think of this measure to register prepaid cards suggest by NZ police?



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Monday, October 27, 2008

Payoneer Integrates with 41st Parameter to Reduce Fraud

International Business Times reports today that Payoneer, which is a leader payment solutions that help companies pay other companies worldwide by using reloadable PrepaidMasterCard cards, has integrated 41stParameter's® PCPrint into its international payment services.

PCPrint is industry’s leading tagless device that many banks use across the world in order to reduce online fraud. Payoneer already helps companies pay more efficiently, and at lower costs, but now it is looking to also quickly identify valid transactions. Fraud is a big concern for prepaid card providers, and so this integration will help better manage online transactions.

Ori Eisen, founder and chief innovation officer of 41stParameter mentions:

"Our technology helps banks Member Service Providers -- like Payoneer – as sure their banking customers that the individuals they make payments to are valid. We are proud to help simplify and protect the international payment process by providing the most effective online device IDtechnology."



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Friday, October 24, 2008

One to One Marketing Solutions Inc. Joins Forces with American Express Incentive Services

International Business Times reports that One to One Marketing Solutions Inc. has entered into a licensing agreement with American Express Incentive Services. As a result of this agreement, One to One Marketing Solutions will be able to access AEIS’s patented merchant acceptance process, DirectSpend.

One to One Marketing will use DirectSpend as part of its strategy of providng clients with customized prepaid programs. Mark Tepper, president of One to One Marketing mentions:

"One to One Marketing takes pride in a consultative and client-centricbusiness model. This philosophy guideseverything from our industry-leading product suite to our ancillaryofferings. DirectSpend is well aligned with our prepaid products andservices and will enable us to deliver innovative business opportunities toour client partners."



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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Springbok to Send Personalized Messages to Prepaid Card Recipients

Thewisemarketer.com reports that Springbok Services has launched customized messaging options for its corporate clients in order to enhance the impact of its prepaid Visa and MasterCard programs.

Clients are now better able to communicate with card recipients in a variety of ways to personalize their experience. Clients can send web messages, phone messaging, or using interactive Voice Response Technology. Messages can be sent when card recipients reload their cards or simply when they check their card activity.



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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Smartcard Marketing Systems is Leading in Online Prepaid Cards

Wired.PRNews.com reports that Smartcard Marketing Systems Inc. had announced that its Prepaid Card Loading, Pin Debit, and Payment processing volume has increased in triple digits to $367,000 for the month of September 2008. Its gain in card loading and payment processing specifically in August has grown up to 10 times larger than last year’s August total and 22.6% greater than last month’s total.

President Bruce Baillio mentions:

“This striking growth is the result of continuing to fill our backlog of prepaid card orders and the launch of our VelocityMoney.com Online Bill Pay service both in Canada and the US.”

It will be interesting to see if this growth in prepaid cards will continue throughout the current economic situation.



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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

NETELLER Launches Net+™ Virtual Prepaid Card by MasterCard

The online wire reports today that NETELLER, the leading provider of online payments, as announced that it will provide its e-wallet customers with the NET+TM cards. This is possible through its partnership with TransSend Payment Services.

The Net+TM Prepaid MasterCard will allow consumers to access their funds at ATMs and points-of-sale. The card will be usable in over 27 million locations including 1.9 million ATMs. David Gagie, the President of the NETELLER Group’s Member Services division mentions:

"The launch of the Net+TM prepaid cards will provide our consumers with a more convenient and cost-effective way to withdraw cash and make purchases using the funds in their e-wallets. This launch is a key part of the Group’s strategy to bring new customers to the NETELLER e-wallet and to extend the lifetime value of existing customers."



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Monday, October 20, 2008

The Citi Thank You Network Releases Prepaid Card Rewards

The ePaymentsnews Network reports that Citi’s Thank You Network has made arrangements with Citi Prepaid Services to launch a new prepaid rewards option for Thank You Network members.

Nancy Gordon, the executive vice president of Citi Thank You Network has revealed that with the new prepaid cards Thank You members can redeem their prepaid card rewards wherever they want. The rewards collection includes gift cards, cash, booking eligible travel on Expedia.com, charitable donations and customized rewards through the ‚Your Wish Fulfilled’ program. The prepaid cards can be used anywhere Visa is accepted, and the cards will be available in three denominations, $25, $50, and $100.



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Friday, October 17, 2008

UK Prepaid card survey results

In a recent study released about the usage of prepaid cards in the UK, they show that 60% of all customers had bought a prepaid card for another person within the last 12 months as well as 30% of consumers had bought a prepaid within the last six months. Of those who received prepaid cards, 50% were willing to reload their card. Read more about the study here.



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Thursday, October 16, 2008

SVM has new gift card program

SVM has announced a new gift card program. They've teamed up with Soldiers Angels for "Tank Support". This program distributes gasoline gift cards to soldiers who have served overseas. Citizens can purchase them online and then the gift cards are distributed to soldiers with the names of the citizen and a personalized letter. Read more about it here at Manage Smarter.



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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Better ATM Services expands

Better ATM Services is looking to spread their current prepaid card business beyond prepaid cards for local business. They're going to start distributing Amazon.com prepaid cards through local ATMs, starting with 24 throughout the area. These 24 stations will also provide complementary Restaurant.com gift cards when purchased through ATMs.

"We bring the prepaid card world, which has been booming,and the ATM world, which is looking for new revenues and new services, together," said Todd Nuttall, who is ATM Services' chief executive. Read here for more information.



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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Prepaid cards for education

Ashbrook High School of Gastonia, North Carolina was recently announced as the winner of the contest Flash Fiesta Promotion sponsored by Pexagon. Read more here.

Brian Campbell, President of Pexagon Technology, Inc. had this to say about the prepaid card promotion:
"Pexagon's Prepaid Flash Drive Cards were invented by schools, for schools. Hundreds of schools buy these redemption cards at a discount, for example $10 for a 1GB card, and sell to students and the school community for $15 or $20,keeping the difference for their fundraising programs. We are really pleased to see these personalized USB Flash Drivesput to such a good use."



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Monday, October 13, 2008

State of Kansas Saves Money with Prepaid Cards

In a move that is projected to save the state of Kansas, $300,000, they will no longer be mailing unemployment checks, and instead they will be using debit cards. The Kansas Department of Labor (KDOL) will be electronically be depositing money into accounts on a weekly basis, based on claimant eligibility. Jim Garner, KDOL Secretary, released this statement as reported here:

"We are catching up with how most folks do their daily financial activities, and this allows us to provide better and more efficient customer service. Benefits payments will now be delivered faster and in a convenient, secure and economical way."



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Thursday, October 9, 2008

Are Prepaid Cards Useful?

While many are discussing the benefits of Prepaid Cards, this article plays devil's advocates and questions the usefulness of this latest in from the Credit Card Industry. Many tout the main benefit being to the underbanked, college students, and for those who wish to have a secure way to avoid racking up debt. As this author points out, however,

It's just like a regular debit card, except that it isn't hooked up to a checking account. You have to transfer money to it from a bank account, and there are hefty fees for activating the card, withdrawing money from ATMs and, get this, not using the card regularly. Fraud protection tends to be limited and, unlike a credit card, you can't establish a credit history to help qualify for better rates on student loans or a mortgage.

What are your thoughts? Do you see the prepaid card industry as a benefit to consumers, or not and why?



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Wednesday, October 8, 2008

MSNBC: Fraud Plagues Prepaid Cards Market

According to this article, growing numbers of individuals are reporting fraud with regard to their prepaid cards. Users of prepaid calling cards seem to bear the brunt of the problem; reporting outrageous fees for calling from payphones, calling to mobile phones or calling out of the country. The most distressing information on this problem is that

many prepaid calling card companies advertise in Spanish, but provide disclosures of card terms and conditions in English only — if at all.

So what is to become of this prepaid calling market? Your thoughts?



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Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Web Based Business Prepaid Payment Solutions

As our previous post mentions, many employers are turning to prepaid cards as an alternative for paying employees. Now, Payoneer is offering Web based businesses a way to pay individuals worldwide using a "direct to co-branded prepaid MasterCard", as stated on their webpage. This is a win win situation since it provides cost savings to organizations, while allowing employees access to funds without the hassle that often accompanies having a bank account.



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Monday, October 6, 2008

ATM's Giving out Gift Cards

Better ATM Services, Automated Cash Management Systems, and APTUs Financial, have all reached an agreement to allow consumers to purchase Amazon Gift Cards at 'technology enabled ATM's' for this years holiday season. This is new to the Gift Card Industry, which represents the largest segment of Prepaid Cards. As reported here, around $80 billion was spent on gift cards in 2006, according to a report by The Tower Group. It will be interesting to see if this new venture will reverbrate around the retail industry and have an impact of increasing the number of Gift Cards bought this year for the Holidays.



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Friday, October 3, 2008

Visa’s ReadyLink Prepaid Card Network: An Opportunity for Financial Institutions

Recently, we’ve posted about how Visa is looking to expand its Visa ReadyLink prepaid card reload network to ATMs that accepts deposits without envelopes. Currently, prepaid cards are generally reloaded through direct deposit programs or through merchants that accept cash and then credit the amount to the prepaid card.

This program is particularly interesting because of the amount of unbanked people that financial institutions can attract. Cardholders would simply swipe their card, and then the cash that they want upload. After a few simple prompts, consumers would receive a receipt stating the updating value on the card. As with regular ATMs, consumers would pay an interchange fee in which Visa would get its standard network fee from. ATM owners would also set their own pricing for the consumer. It will be interesting to see the amount of customers banks will be able to convert from Visa’s reload network.



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Thursday, October 2, 2008

Community Bank Products to Use Metavante’s Prepaid Card Processing Services

Finextra.com reports that Community Bank Products has aligned with Metavante, which is a leading provider of banking and payments technology, for prepaid card processing.

John Focht, division president, Metavante Issuing Solutions mentions:

"With Metavante, virtually nothing changed for Community Bank Products and its resellers. The cards already distributed are still valid. The reseller banks can continue selling existing cards. They use the same logon screens, the same IDs, the same basic procedures. Minimizing impact on the reseller banks supported by Community Bank Products - that's what Metavante's conversion expertise and relationship team delivered throughout the process."

Community Bank Products will roll out with two new prepaid products in 2010: payroll cards and general purpose re-loadable cards. Both of these cards will have the Visa brand and will complement existing Visa TravelMoney cards and gift cards offered through Community Bank Products. Metavante will also provide customer service and fraud prevention solutions in addition to prepaid card processing, card production and delivery, and account management.



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Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Gift Card Sales are Expected to Drop During the Holiday Season

This post on the ePaymentsnews Network mentions that because of the current economic situation across the US, consumers will spend less money (about USD 25 billion) on gift cards.

Instead, consumers will spend money on necessities such as gas, dining, and groceries. Restaurants and fast food chains are expected to sell the most gift cards this holiday season. Teenagers and post-college consumers are expected to give gift card purchases a boost since many gift card retailers offer coupons and discounts for the purchaser.

The study information is provided Archstone Consulting.



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Monday, September 29, 2008

Is your body language undermining your words?

Regardless of the industry you work in, you've probably have had to give a presentation, conduct negotiations or speak off-the-cuff to support your position in a meeting. But are you unconsciously sending out signals with your body language that contradict your words and undermines your position?

Check out this article from Carol Kinsey Goman, a coach and consultant who will be speaking at the 2009 Prepaid Card Expo in March 2009, which addresses the issue of body language, framed in the context of the presidential debates. It's an interesting read due to its relevance to current events (most notably Thursday's vice presidential debate and Round II of McCain vs. Obama). It's also a useful read for folks who need to pitch their prepaid programs to audiences that may not be convinced of your company, service or the industry's benefits.


What to Watch For During the Presidential Debates

Carol Kinsey Goman, Ph.D.

The major story of the first televised presidential debate (in 1960) became the photogenic appeal of John F. Kennedy versus the sickly look of his opponent, Richard Nixon. Several factors contributed to the poor image of Nixon: His ill health leading up to the debate had resulted in a drastic weight loss. He refused to wear makeup, although his illness had left him with a pallid complexion. He wore a suit that blended in with the light grey color of the set's backdrop. And, to make matters worse, the cameras caught Nixon wiping perspiration from his forehead while Kennedy was pressing him on the issues.

As for Kennedy, he excelled in front of the camera. A polished public speaker, Kennedy appeared young, athletic, handsome, and poised. His practice of looking at the camera when answering questions -- and not at the journalists who asked them, as Nixon did -- made viewers see him as someone who was talking directly to them and who gave them straight answers.

When the debate ended, a large majority of television viewers recognized Kennedy as the winner. On the other hand, most radio listeners thought that Nixon had won. Obviously, appearance and body language mattered!

Today's candidates are fully aware of (and heavily coached on) the impact of nonverbal cues. Still, a debate is never as scripted nor as controlled as a formal speech - and there are things to watch for that can give you insights into hidden motivations and feelings. This is especially true if you notice those nonverbal signals that are in response to an unpredicted moment.

As you view the upcoming presidential debates, here are things to watch for:

1) Eye blinks. Under pressure or discomfort, eye blinks increase dramatically. Watch to see what topics cause a candidate's eye blink rate to race.

2) Congruence. When someone totally believes what they're saying, there is an automatic synchronicity between words and gestures. Watch to see when nonverbal signals are aligned with the spoken word and when they are out of sync (a cue that there is some conflict between what's being said and the speaker's true feelings).

3) Narrowed lips. Lips that tighten (or almost disappear into the mouth) are almost always a negative signal. Watch for this gesture as a signal that someone is either holding back key information or they really don't want to respond to a particular question.

4) Breathing patterns. Holding one's breath is a natural human reaction when facing danger. Watch for a sudden, sharp intake of breath or a change of breathing into small, shallow breaths as a signal that someone feels threatened.

5) Hand gestures. There are a variety of hand gestures that speak for themselves: Hand-to-mouth gestures (the hand brushes the lips or touches the nose) are deception cues that people unconsciously use when lying - or when listening to someone else who they believe is lying. Open palm gestures are convincing signals of candor. And the "steepling hands" gesture (palms separated slightly, fingers of both hands spread and finger tips touching) is a display of high confidence. In fact, if either candidate uses steepling, you will notice it at a time when that person feels the most prepared and assured.

6) Body leans. People lean toward other people or things they like or are interested in. Watch for candidates to lean in slightly when they feel they are being asked a question that addresses a strength and lean back slightly when confronted with a question that might expose a weakness.

7) Smiling. There is a big difference between real and fake smiles. Watch to see which situations or comments elicit a real smile that lights up the candidate's entire face and crinkles the eyes - and which rate a "fake" or social smile that simply pulls up the corners of the mouth. And pay attention to the appropriateness of the smile. A smile at the wrong time (like when discussing solemn issues) is a disconcerting signal that words and feelings are out of alignment.

8) Micro-expressions. Fleeting facial expressions often allow the truth to slip through in brief, unguarded moments. Watch for flashes of anger, disgust, surprise, joy or fear that are expressed before the conscious mind can rein them in and create a more appropriate reaction.

9) Security gestures. A security barrier - one that is favored by politicians, television personalities, salespeople and others who don't want to appear nervous or unsure - is formed when one arm swings in front of the body so that the opposite hand can touch a shirt cuff, bracelet, watch or other object on the arm. In fact, any time you see someone move his arms across his body, chances are he's silently (and unconsciously) reassuring himself.

Please remember: There is no such thing as universal body language. Beyond cultural variances, every individual has his or her own set of nonverbal behaviors that is normal for that person. Trying to decode body language cues without considering baseline behaviors can give a "false read."

For example, Senator McCain has a baseline high blink rate. When viewed for the first time, it can look as if he is highly stressed or being deceptive. Senator Obama often tilts his head back and to the side when listening to another person's remarks. When viewed for the first time, this backward tilt can look like a signal of arrogance or superiority.

Be aware of baseline behaviors so that you can watch for the sudden changes from "normal" that are most telling. And keep in mind that nonverbal cues occur in what is called a "gesture cluster" -- a group of movements, postures and actions that reinforce a common point.

A single gesture can have several meanings or mean nothing at all (sometimes a cigar is just a cigar), but when you couple that single gesture with other nonverbal signals, the meaning becomes clearer.

So as the campaign rolls on toward November, watch for these nonverbal cues. Try to stay as unbiased as possible while viewing the debates. And beware of the "halo effect" - the leniency with which we interpret the body language of candidates we already favor.

Carol Kinsey Goman, Ph.D., is an executive coach, keynote speaker, and author of "THE NONVERBAL ADVANTAGE - Secrets and Science of Body Language at Work." For more information, contact Carol by phone: 510-526-1727, email: CGoman@CKG.com, or through her websites: www.NonverbalAdvantage.com and www.CKG.com. She will be presenting a keynote address at the 2009 Prepaid Card Expo, March 9-11, 2009, on the value of breaking down silos to help achieve organizational goals.



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Friday, September 26, 2008

Royal Bank of Scotland switches to Visa

As reported by the Wall Street Journal, the Royal Bank of Scotland, one of the largest debit card issuers in the UK and the USA will be switching to Visa for all of their debit cards. The switchover will begin in mid 2009. With debit cards use growing, this is a big setback for MasterCard, which has a smaller market share than Visa.



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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Visa enhances prepaid network

Visa announced that it will expand it's Visa Ready Link prepaid card benefits. Throughout the fall of 2008, participating ATMs with envelope deposits will become have the capabilities to recharge prepaid debit cards. This will provide a secure way to transfer the money from checks deposited to the prepaid cards.

Brian Triplett, Global Head of Prepaid Products at Visa Inc had this to say about the new service:

"By bringing Visa ReadyLink first to retailers and now offering advancements to make reload capabilities available at ATMs, we can provide a much safer and easier alternative for cardholders. We intend to continue to use the value of Visa's network to grow the prepaid category in ways that help our partners capture a greater share of cash and check spend."

Source: MarketWatch



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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Companies using gift cards to recognize employees

In a recent article at Manage Smarter, they look at how companies are using gift cards for expressing employee recognition, give them rewards or for company bonding programs. Instead of giving gift cards to employees to spend at home, increasingly employees are hiring personal shoppers and taking to the mall with their employees to bond and build relationships.

Creative Business Resources in Phoenix, Arizona took their employees to the mall and gave them $150 to spend in 90 minutes. After they returned, they shared what they bought, and the most creative purchases resulted in the winning more gift cards. We've reported recently on SpringBok Services offer new gift card options to employees with pre-determined spending spots and Omni being able to fully customize gift cards.

What do you think is the next big place companies will go with their prepaid gift cards?



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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Indigo Solutions introduces a currency card

Yesterday, we reported that World First believes that currency cards could be the next big thing for travelers instead of travelers checks. Others are on the prowl to capture this market as well. Indigo Solutions and Alliance and Leicester Commercial Bank have teamed up to introduce their own foreign currency card, the Indigo Travel Card. The card can be loaded in either euros or dollars. They're introducing it for the holidays, selling the card as a way for holiday tourists to organize their money.

The Director of Prepaid Cards at Alliance & Leicester Commercial Bank, James Le Brocq said about the new currency card:

“Prepaid cards not only offer users all the benefits of a debit card but are an ideal solution for consumers who want to keep close control of their finances or who want an alternative form of payment to their usual bank account or credit card. The Indigo Travelcard can be of great benefit to anyone needing foreign currency, removing some of the barriers often associated with travellers cheques, lost or stolen currency or fraudulent use of credit cards when abroad.”



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Friday, September 19, 2008

Prepaid Credit Cards Use by Immigrants

I found this article today that remarked on immigrants being responsible in part for the growing trend of prepaid credit card use. As they mentioned, last year Bank of America received a lot criticism for their prepaid credit cards being available to “undocumented immigrants”. One of the benefits of these cards that has been cited many times, however, is that there is no need for a bank account, social security number, or credit check. These three perks are perfect for these immigrants. The Department of Homeland Security has released data showing that approximately 11.6 million “unauthorized immigrants” currently reside in the U.S. This makes the prepaid credit card industry look very promising for investors.



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Thursday, September 18, 2008

Club Vivanet Agreement with Expert Financial Systems

Club Vivanet now has a Processing Services Agreement with Expert Financial Systems as announced in MarketWatch This means that they can now create their own prepaid debit cards, and other payment products services that are specific to them. They will be able to offer these services both within the U.S. as well as abroad. More specifically they will have the ability to support MNC’s with internet banking in terms of using debit cards as an “alternative payment method.”

Club Vivanet will also be providing prepaid debit cards as well as other products for fundraising and non profit organizations through www.vivafundraiser.com, and www.vivagiving.com.



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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Prepaid Payroll Cards

Yesterday we discussed how FNDS3000 will be offering a Diamond Cash Card in South Africa. In other payroll card news, MediaNet Group Technologies, Inc. will be building a “private branded web mall for Paycard USA” as announced in this article from CNN. Paycard USA is offering a Prepaid MasterCard, that would require no credit application or checking account. The main benefit will be that employees will be able to avoid fees associated with drawing money from standard checks at other banks. As Martin Berns, CEO of MediaNet Group metioned:

"We are excited to add PaycardUSA to our list of new clients, particularly as it demonstrates how the marketplace is demanding rewards and incentives on debit and payroll cards. Being selected by PaycardUSA is indicative of trends not only in the under-banked marketplace but also by savvy financial services firms who are looking to enhance the value proposition to card holders. We look forward to working with the PaycardUSA team in adding value to their card holders and providing a benefit beyond the industry standard."



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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Prepaid Payroll Launched in South Africa

As we have announced in the past, several organizations, including the U.S. Department of Employment Services, have announced plans to pay employees using prepaid cards. This new concept is going global, and is now being launched in South Africa. As reported in this article, FNDS3000 will be issuing a Diamond Cash Card, in their first payroll card program for the region. In a statement issued from Michael J. Dodak, CEO and Chairman of FNDS3000:

"The issuing of our Diamond Cash Card is a significant milestone in our corporate history. Our major strategic objective was to install our prepaid card-issuing platform in Johannesburg, South Africa to serve as a launching pad for tapping into the expanding unbanked markets.”



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Monday, September 15, 2008

History of Credit Cards

This article from Mercury News takes a look at the 50 year history of the Credit Card Industry. While the prepaid industry is still relatively new, it is interesting to recall the roots of this market. As the article mentions, 50 years ago, Bank of America sent a mass mailing to the residents of Fresno, a copy of the companies new Visa credit card. It became known as the Fresno Drop. The rest as they say, is history. Since then, the credit industry boomed and as of this summer, according to the Federal Reserve, revolving debt, mostly originating from credit cards, is $969.9 billion. With the many economic woes currently facing the industry, it will be interesting to see how the fledgling prepaid credit card industry will fare.



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Friday, September 12, 2008

Obopay and Bancorp Bank Partner to Issue Prepaid Cards

The ePaymentsnews Network reports that Obopay and US Bancorp Bank have partnered up to launch prepaid payment cards linked to Obopay mobile payment accounts.

The cards can be used anywhere MasterCard is accepted and at more than one million ATM locations around the world.The prepaid card will be linked to an Obopay mobile money account, and is accessible by text messaging and the mobile web.The Obopay MasterCard is available for all Obopay customers.



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Thursday, September 11, 2008

EDebit Pay one of top businesses in Los Angeles

In a recent list of Los Angeles' top 100 countries, EDebitPay held the 27th spot. EDebitPay has seen tremendous growth between 2004 and 2007, growing 618.2%. Since it's conception in 2002, they've not only grown as leaders in the prepaid card market, but also looked to specialize in cash advances, debit consolidation, auto loans, insurance, credit line offers, and business opportunities .

However, according to this article at Business Wire, CEO Paul Cleveland, still looks to focus on the prepaid market.

In todays credit crisis, the use of prepaid debit cards will only continue to grow and we are constantly looking for ways to better serve this market. The recognition of this award confirms and validates our continued efforts to accomplish this goal.



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Tuesday, September 9, 2008

MoneySolutions Prepaid MasterCard

MarketWatch reports that MoneySolutions International is introducing a direct deposit payroll card that will allow companies to reduce payroll costs drastically while offering employees a secure and more convenient way to get paid.

Instead of receiving a paper check, The MoneySolutions Prepaid MasterCard will allow employees to receive bonuses, wages, incentives, rewards payments, and expense reimbursements in the form of a payroll prepaid card. The card works like a value stored card, and funds are automatically loaded to the card on paydays. The MoneySolutions Prepaid MasterCard was designed specifically for those employees without bank accounts, since they rely heavily on fee-based cash checking places and money transfer agents in order to access funds.

Marc Mehl, chief operating officer at MoneySolutions International mentions:

The MoneySolutions Prepaid MasterCard is a practical, cost-effective alternative for the untold millions of American workers who must pay a high price to use neighborhood check cashers and money transfer agents to manage their finances. Our payroll card is structured to grant these workers immediate access to their funds in a convenient, safe, secure manner that is decidedly less expensive for them than paper checks."



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Monday, September 8, 2008

New options from Springbok Services

As reported at All Pay News, they’re introducing a new type of prepaid card to allow corporate clients better access to prepaid cards to promote their organization. Their new service will allow the company to effectively promote the organizations they want as well as strengthen the branding among target audiences.

These new cards will only be able to be redeemed at predetermined locations as decided by the client, sending funds to specific locations. This new corporate card adds to the well rounded services already provided by Springbok Services which include program development, card fulfillment, transaction processing and recording.

Sarah Grotta, the executive vice president of business development at Springbok Services had this to say about the new card:

“Unlike other prepaid card programs, Springbok’s private label cards give our clients’ exclusive branding and controlled redemption options. These advantages channel measurable results for myriad corporate brand awareness activities, such as marketing campaigns and incentive programs. Springbok’s private label cards can increase clients’ revenues and at the same time enhance loyalty among customers. This is a powerful approach to positively motivate behavior.”



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Friday, September 5, 2008

Usefulness of Prepaid Credit Cards

When asking the question about the usefulness of prepaid cards, this author came up with these answers:

- No credit checks so having many will not affect your credit score

- While abroad you can withdraw money in the native currency

- Can’t go into debt!

- Safer for online use since Hackers can’t charge an exorbitant amount

- And you can obtain one even with bad debt!

What are other thoughts you have about the pros and cons of prepaid cards?



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Thursday, September 4, 2008

New Prepaid Card For Teens Aimed at Social Gaming

This article in hubcanada.com reports that Mint Technology Corp and Yep! Mobile have entered in agreement to provide prepaid cards to youth that are interested in social gaming through the Facebook platform.

Social gaming usually requires fees, and so youth need access to their parents’ credit cards. This is a way for kids to become financially independent of their parents and a way for Mint to grow as well. Chris Hogg, president and CEO of Mint Inc. mentions:


“We are excited at this new opportunity to provide teens with a prepaid card in today's online/virtual world. Management believes that a prepaid card will develop as a practical solution to pay for online gaming.”



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Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Omni moves gift card printing in-house

According to All Pay News, Omni Prepiad Card Group is moving the printing of gift cards to in-house starting September 5. They are the first and only company who are able to print customizable gift cards, merchant cards and marketing inserts all in house. The “OmniPrint” located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania will have their presses in the 20,000 square-foot fulfillment center.

Chris Billiar, Director of OmniPrint's fulfillment center, had this to say about the new operation:

"This is unlike anything I've ever seen before. There are no other gift card companies out there that have this type of technology. We can print on-demand tens of thousands of secure Visa gift cards a day with just the click of a button. I'm really excited to work with this cutting-edge technology."



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