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:, or through her websites: and 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, and

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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 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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Tuesday, September 2, 2008

ICE Launches Prepaid Travellers Card

International Currency Exchange (ICE), will now be offering a prepaid travellers card, as reported here. The card will be usable in over 120 countries, and provide a safe alternative to debit cards, credit cards, and travellers cheques. ICE decided to launch the card based on internal reports that stated there has been a 77% increase in the number of stolen cards abroad. Andrew Hamilton, head of marketing at ICE, released this statement:
"Working in partnership with [issuer] Raphaels Bank, [application integrator] Medoc and [prepaid processor] Altair and using our own extensive expertise in the foreign exchange arena, we have been able to develop a prepaid card that is secure and easy to use."

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