Friday, December 13, 2013

The Future of Payment Processing

By Marc Putman, SVP, First Data Prepaid Solutions

"As technology advances and becomes simpler to use, modern tools are being transformed into smart business solutions. In a world where people turn to smart devices for entertainment, engagement and life management, businesses are obligated to do the same.

Luckily, merchants can get the most for their money by investing in technology that consolidates payments and business management. Investing in new payment processing technologies gives business owners the time to do what they do best: run their business.

Next generation point-of-sale (POS) systems can help. Packaged as a tablet or mobile app, these systems can accept cash, contactless and mobile payments, and barcodes, enabling customers to pay how they want…"

To continue reading, please download the full PDF here.

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Partnering Round Up: 12/9 - 12/13

All Payments Expo is committed to catalyzing value add partnerships for the betterment of the ecosystem. Here’s the weekly roundup of partnership news:

  • “Lemon, a digital wallet platform which allows users to store their ID, payment, loyalty cards and more on their smartphone, has been acquired by identity theft protection service LifeLock for approximately $42.6 million, the companies [announced.] LifeLock is also now launching a new application called “LifeLock Wallet,” which is based on Lemon Wallet Plus technology.” To learn more about this partnership, click here.
  • “Barclays Accepting Applications for New UK Fintech Accelerator – Barclays announced Monday a partnership with Techstars to launch a three-month accelerator program in the UK next year.” To learn more about this partnership, click here.
  • “Wells Fargo & Company and Isis, the mobile commerce joint venture created by AT&T Mobility, T-Mobile USA, Inc. and Verizon Wireless, has announced the first phase of an agreement that allows Wells Fargo Visa consumer credit card holders to load their cards into the Isis Mobile Wallet.” To learn more about this partnership, click here.
  • “Payment processing firm Dwolla on Thursday announced the launch of a partnership with online service marketplace Fiverr in a move to help spur adoption of its payment option.” To learn more about this partnership, click here.
  • “Coda Payments scores $2.3 million to make mobile payments without credit cards a cinch” To read more click here.
  • “MasterCard is partnering with Samsung to bring tap-to-pay functionality to Australian shoppers who own a Samsung Galaxy S4 and have the Commonwealth Bank of Australia app loaded on their phone.” To read more click here.
Click here for more information on partnering and how you can guarantee ROI at All Payments Expo.

See you in Las Vegas!
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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Readers Receive 10% Discount to the 2014 All Payments Expo

Save 10% when registering for All Payments Expo 2014 - Use Code: XU2748BLOG

At All Payments Expo, you will hear from and interact with 2,000+ attendees from the most powerful payments companies. For companies both large AND fresh out of Silicon Valley, it's a gathering of industry doers and thinkers, who come together to do business and generate new partnerships.

See you in Las Vegas!

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Thursday, December 5, 2013

Register for All Payments Expo by Friday Dec. 6 to Save $700!

Save up to $700 if you sign up to attend All Payments Expo by Friday, Dec. 6. This is the best possible price for All Payments Expo - after Dec. 6, rates go up. 

Here's All Payments Expo's Mission: 

  • Focused on drilling down into the bedrock of payments innovation, including alternative financial services, prepaid, acquiring, technology, omnichannel retail, lending & gifting. 
  • Biggest business development event in payments, and the only event with an exclusive partnering tool to help you generate real ROI with clients and potential partners on-site. 
  • The largest number of retailers of ANY payments event, with more than 300 omnichannel focused merchants in attendance. 
  • Designed to make the most of team attendance. Make sure your company's leadership, product, business development, marketing functions are in attendance (group discounts are as high as 20%) and build business & buzz at the show. 
  • Home to FinTech Partnerships, an exclusive 2-day forum designed to catalyze strategic alliances between banks and non-bank innovators in mobile banking, PFM, in-branch technologies, lending and more. 

Take advantage of this discounted rate – Register today!

Raise Your Profile at APEX: A limited number of sponsorship opportunities are available. If interested, please contact Terri Sobol at 646.895.7473 or  

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See you in Las Vegas!

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Monday, November 25, 2013

First Data Releases October 2013 SpendTrend® Analysis

October Consumer Spending Growth up from September

ATLANTA,  Nov. 18, 2013First Data Corporation, a global leader in electronic commerce and payment processing, today released its First Data SpendTrend® analysis for Oct.1, 2013 through Oct. 30, 2013 compared to Oct.2, 2012 through Oct.31, 2012.  SpendTrend tracks same-store consumer spending by credit, signature debit, PIN debit, EBT, closed-loop prepaid cards and checks at U.S. merchant locations.

Dollar volume growth in October was 6.8%, a healthy uptick from last month’s growth of 5.3% despite the political strife in Washington. The growth was supported by the onset of cooler temperatures, which drove sales of seasonal merchandise and early holiday advertising attracting shopper foot-traffic. The year-over-year gas price discount continued to widen. This negatively impacted overall spending growth. Gas Station dollar volume growth was -4.9% in October, the lowest growth seen since April 2013. However, strong growth in categories such as Food Services & Drinking places and Leisure, which saw growth of 7.8% and 9.9% helped offset some of that negative growth.

Retail dollar volume growth in October jumped to 5.6% compared to September’s 3.6% growth. Retail spending growth accelerated toward the end of the month as the government shutdown ended and shoppers regained confidence. All retail sub-categories saw positive year-over-year dollar volume growth.

Average ticket growth was 0.5% in October, up from September’s growth of -0.2%. The slowdown in Gas Station average tickets continued to offset the overall growth. Gas Station average ticket growth of -7.9% marked a twelve-month low. However, retail average ticket growth jumped to 1.8% from last month’s growth of 0.8% as discounting activity by retailers eased. Retailers focused on profits in October, as this period is an opportunity to plump up profits between the back-to-school and holiday seasons; periods where retailers may be forced to cut prices to win customers.

“Consumer spending growth gained momentum in October, which should provide retailers with an optimistic outlook heading into the holiday season”, said Krish Mantripragada, SVP, Information and Analytics Solutions, First Data. “Retailers should expect holiday spending to be modestly stronger compared to last year barring any number of external events that could negatively impact sales such as poor weather or geopolitical events at home or abroad.”

October Dollar Volume Growth CHANGE
Credit +7.7%
Signature Debit +6.0%
PIN Debit +6.2%
Check -4.8%
Prepaid +3.8%
Note: All transactions are same-store growth.

To view infographics showing October SpendTrend data, click here

For more information on First Data SpendTrend, visit or call SpendTrend Customer Care at 800-430-0169.

To participate in the SpendTrend conversation, please follow First Data at

Around the world, every second of every day, First Data makes payment transactions secure, fast and easy for merchants, financial institutions and their customers. First Data leverages its vast product portfolio and expertise to drive client revenue and profitability. Whether the choice of payment is by debit or credit card, gift card, check or mobile phone, online or at the checkout counter, First Data takes every opportunity to go beyond the transaction. More information about the company is available on as well as on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and YouTube.

Media Contact
Cara Crifasi, First Data

First Data SpendTrend, a macro-economic indicator, is based on aggregate same-store sales activity in the First Data Point of Sale Network. First Data SpendTrend does not represent First Data’s financial performance.

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Partnering Round Up: 11/18 - 11/22

All Payments Expo is committed to catalyzing value add partnerships for the betterment of the ecosystem. Here’s the weekly roundup of partnership news: 

“African telecommunications giant MTN, and world leading e-payment service provider Visa, have come into partnership to offer customers a mobile payment solution which allows MTN Mobile Money customers to make online transactions wherever Visa is accepted.”  To read the full article,  click here.

“WunWun triples orders since launch, partners with Dwolla for payment” To read the full article, click here.

“Our extended partnership with Green Dot now allows our cardholders to load funds to their prepaid cards at more than 4,000 Walmart stores that offer Walmart’s Rapid Reload service.” said MasterCard Group Executive of U.S. Market Development, Craig Vosburg. To read the full article, click here.

"SumAll, the leading provider of connected data analytics, today announced a partnership with Simplify Commerce by MasterCard that makes it easy for merchants to accept e-commerce and mobile commerce payments, regardless of payment brand, in a matter of minutes." To read the full announcement, click here.

"Visa has announced a strategic alliance with global prepaid processor i2c, Inc., affirming its commitment to the growing prepaid market in Asia-Pacific, Central Europe, Middle East & Africa (APCEMEA)." Read the full article here.

Click here for more information on partnering and how you can guarantee ROI at All Payments Expo.

See you in Las Vegas.

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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

PARTNERING is taking center stage at All Payments Expo

Here's why payments companies MUST partner: 

Industry Convergence: 
Incumbent institutions are being joined by new companies and industries entering the payments space, giving everyone opportunities to leverage the strengths of other players.

An interoperable infrastructure is necessary to facilitate widespread acceptance of new payment types, making unionification crucial in the evolving ecosystem. 

New players bring new strategies- and much-needed data, scale or functionalities to augment existing product pipelines. 

Independence from Old Business Models: 
Payments' rapid-fire evolution is set to change the revenue structure for the entire industry, making new partnerships with creative players a must. 

For more information on partnering and how you can guarantee ROI at All Payments Expo – CLICK HERE

See you in Las Vegas!

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Thursday, August 29, 2013

The ‘Cross’ Sequence that Mature FIs are Headed Down

There’s a running chorus of catchphrases echoing across the banking industry: Build once, use many. Create a single customer database. Simplify the customer experience. Operate like one company around the world.

All great suggestions, right? No one would argue the benefits of any of these catchphrases, but it’s tough to accomplish even one of them, let alone all of them. That said: if you have the money, resources, and wherewithal to do all of these at once then give me a call. I’d love to be your Chief Miracle Implementation Officer.

Seriously, though: if you’re coming to the FinTech Partnerships conference, I assume you’re in the same boat I am: trying to improve things for your digital channel customers and improving your company’s bottom line, all with limited resources. We all have our roadmaps for which functions we’d add to the online and mobile channels, but we also need to look at making the channels themselves more productive, customer-centric, and nimble.

Here’s how I’m approaching it:

  • Cross-channel: Channels in silos simply aren’t going to work anymore. It costs too much to deploy functionality in online, then pay as much again to deploy it in mobile, and then again on the tablet. For this you need a single services layer in your architecture (if you don’t have one by now, you need to sit your chief architect down for a serious heart-to-heart), and some excellent responsive design resources. Your customer might not see a difference, but your IT run budget will thank you.
  • Cross-LOB: There are few things customers hate more than when we make them figure out our org structure. There are undoubtedly good reasons why banks built separate secure sites for banking vs. billpay vs. investments. But your customer couldn't care less about those reasons. And don’t say “single sign-on” -- that’s a stop-gap...Imagine the cross-sell opportunities when you can tie, say, day-to-day transactions together with investing: “Hey, you spend $150/month on coffee, but other customers like you only spend $100. Click here and we’ll set up a new investment account with an automatic savings plan of $50, and send an alert to your phone when you get close to your new monthly coffee budget.” There’s a lot of work involved in making that a reality – a single enterprise-wide customer CIF, for one – but that kind of guidance and advice is exactly what we owe our customers. There may be infrastructure cost savings from shutting down extraneous sites too.
  • Cross-segment: Serving personal customers, small business customers, mid-size commercial customers, and large corporate customers with the same digital channels may have questionable returns. But if you have your solid services layer and a single customer CIF, and you want to ensure that you capture 100% of your commercial customers’ personal business (and vice versa), then this may be important to you. It won’t be easy, but portal technologies like Backbase give you a fighting chance.
  • Cross-border: Customers may not differ that much across geographies, but regulators and payment methods sure do, so tread carefully. If you want to serve all your customers around the world with one digital channel, you’d better be on a single core system or a perfectly disaggregated services layer. Otherwise, pick your spots: figure out which functions customers need to be cross-border and tackle those. Oh, and this likely involves going cross-language too, so hire some translators.

Our Guest Author, Dan Dickinson is the Managing Director, Online and Mobile Banking (Canada) for BMO Bank of Montreal. He is responsible for the strategy, project development, and sales growth of BMO’s digital channels in Canada, which serve over 2 million active customers. In recent years his team has delivered such customer enhancements as BMO MoneyLogic, real-time branch appointment booking via the online and mobile channels, and real-time multichannel sales lead delivery to online banking.

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Thursday, August 22, 2013

Q&A with Sarika Abbi, Director of Ideation, at D2D Fund

There have been lots of innovations surfacing for GPR cards, and one that’s particularly gotten the industry’s attention is savings pockets. At Prepaid Expo in March, Sarika Abbi, Director of Ideation at D2D Fund, provided some interesting research on savings pockets’ impact on GPR card stickiness and users’ financial health. Now, with D2D’s new report, Paving the Way Forward: Savings On Prepaid Cards, she dives even deeper. Check out the report, and our exclusive Q&A with her below.

1. This recent report has some sobering facts, including that 50% of Americans are not confident they could manage a $2,000 financial emergency. What’s the single most important thing the financial services industry should be doing to turn statistics like these around?

The financial services industry can help turn statistics like this around by keeping in mind that helping consumers on a path towards financial stability will be a win-win proposition – consumers that are not liquidity constrained and have stronger household balance sheets will be more satisfied, engaged, and profitable consumers. 

2. According to this study, cards with these savings features tend to experience less churn. Is there a barrier keeping more program managers incorporating savings pockets into their programs?
One significant challenge is that program managers need others in the prepaid value chain (e.g. processor, issuing bank) able to and comfortable (especially from a risk perspective) with offering additional features such as savings. But there is also a misperception of consumers’ interest and demand for this feature as well as how it can be effectively marketed and designed on a prepaid card to work for both providers and consumers. 
We also need to think differently about what “savings” and “successful savings” means for consumers. For some, it is about building a reserve for a near or long-term goal but for others, especially more financially vulnerable consumers, it is about having access to a revolving savings pocket – a place where they can set a little bit aside when available but dip into it for short-term needs such as groceries and emergencies. While savings might not stay long in this pocket and might be perceived as non-savings, it is helping consumers address their liquidity needs. A lack of liquidity can be a significant contributor to financial vulnerability for households.  And access to savings can help consumers rely less on and slowly transition away from alternatives to savings, such as credit, that can be costly and destabilizing. 

3. There’s been some resistance from the regulatory community about offering credit or overdraft on GPR and payroll cards. Do those features help users who are in a financial bind? What’s your take?
Without addressing the regulatory concerns here, which I assume also incorporates concerns over fees, I do believe offering credit (or a form of credit) could be interesting and a value-add from both the consumers’ as well as providers’ perspective.  However, credit would need to be carefully designed and made accessible to address the tension between a need for credit when in a financial bind and access to credit that can be further destabilizing and detrimental to households. So, for instance, it would be interesting to explore credit in conjunction with a savings feature on a prepaid card – made accessible and designed in a way that can and does help consumers in a financial bind. 

4. What’s the next step for you and your team’s product innovation and research? 
We continue looking at innovation that helps scale savings on prepaid cards. Below is some of the work we are interested in: 

  • Exploring savings on prepaid cards offered through various channels such as retailers, employers and the government to scale access to savings.
  • Designing add-on features, such as a prize-linked savings layer and gamification, to strengthen engagement with savings features by making saving fun and rewarding.
  • Bundling savings on prepaid cards with additional financial products or services, such as credit, that can help address the savings gap when a short-term need arises. 
  • Exploring ways to commoditize savings, such as gifting savings, and offering stand-alone savings prepaid cards.    

Sarika Abbi is the Director of Ideation at D2D Fund. She works on initiatives to design and pilot new saving products as well as new ways to market and distribute these products to under-served consumers. Prior to joining D2D her work focused on improving financial access for low income households in developing countries. While at Ideas42, she worked with researchers and practitioners in development finance to design financial products and managed a research center and team internationally to pilot test the designs. Before entering the financial inclusion field, she worked in the private sector consulting on executive compensation. She holds a Masters in Public Administration from NYU and a Bachelors of Economics from Univ. of California, Berkeley.

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Thursday, August 15, 2013

Five Ways Traditional Banks are Missing Millennials

Over 80 million strong, millennials rival baby boomers in their numbers.  Their purchases already account for a little over  one out of every five dollars spent on consumer goods and services.  And in just over five years they will hit their peak and become a defining force in the US economy.

This me generation matured along with digital technology.  The oldest of them remember dial up modems and the youngest were still in high school when the iPhone debuted.  But all are quick to latch onto the latest innovations, often disrupting entire industries (bye bye, old media).  For banks the impact has so far been manageable, but at Moven we believe all of that is about to change.

Equipped with smart-phones millennials now navigate their social, physical and even service environments in completely brand new ways.  In particular, the rise of mobile applications has fundamentally redefined how they find, select and purchase services.  Traditional banks are missing this shift towards "appification", where constant experimentation and innovation is the new norm.  And while the landscape is changing around them, there are five key principles that they've missed:

1. Download the App
An app is easy to download and set up.  A bank account, not so much.  Whereas the best apps can have millions of users in a very short time, banks struggle to achieve single digit account growth.  Without a streamlined mobile account signup, the app discovery and trial behaviors that millennials love is impossible with banks.

2. Share with Friends
Millennials look to their friends and peer groups for recommendations and are quick to share when pleased.  If getting an app takes minutes, it's far easier to champion the brand.  The best apps go further, creating shareable moments  that complement millenials' own personal social brand.

3. Get Instant Insights
As with a bank relationship, apps are all about usage and retention.  And when it comes to making money decisions, millenials want insights at their fingertips.  Foursquare tells me where my friends are, Yelp how good the food will be, and Google the fastest way to get there.  But what does my bank app do?  My balance is a start, but certainly not the end.  At Moven we've created MoneyPulse™, a real time analysis of your spend compared to your goals, but there's room for lots more experimentation by banks.

4. Be Financial Healthy
Entering the workforce during this great recession with heavy student debt, millenials are making very different money decisions.  Whether it be living at home, buying fewer cars, and even postponing marriage, many are trying to be better savers.  But while the intent is there, the behavior is not as they dedicate more of their spend towards smaller discretionary items.  Traditional banks have yet to tap into this financial angst and provide meaningful, effective solutions that fit the new "appified" service paradigm that millennials prefer.

5. Trust Us
Finally, millenials are extremely skeptical of banks.  It's not that they're unwilling to pay for services, but that they expect banks to take every opportunity to exploit them (cue occupy wall street).  The increasing appeal of prepaid cards in this segment signals their willingness to choose consistency and transparency over hidden fees and the temptation of greater debt.  While banks are moving towards this, they can go even further by committing to an oath, as we have done, assuring customers that their best interests always come first.

Mohamed Khalil, Head of Product, Data & Partnerships at Moven, has over 15 years of experience in financial services management consulting, fintech startups, and retail brokerage and bank strategy.  He has an undergraduate degree from Princeton University and an MBA from Wharton. Moven is a startup dedicated to providing mobile money management services that help consumers spend, save and live smarter.  Moven was awarded a Best in Show at the 2013 Finovate London event.

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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Prepaid Expo Evolves… into All Payments Expo (APEX)

The longest-running event in prepaid is unveiling a new name and evolved mission: All Payments Expo (APEX), the NEW home for Prepaid Expo attendees, plans to stimulate cross pollination between prepaid and new and alternative players who are innovating payments, gifting and omni-channel retail strategies. The mission: catalyze the partnerships that are necessary to build the next generation of innovative payments, from the mobile environment to the brick-and-mortar POS.

Since the Expo’s beginnings nearly a decade ago, prepaid has pushed the boundaries of what payments can do – and in the process, evolved way past simple stored value. It’s been an exciting journey to see prepaid move from the fringes to the mainstream, thanks to the growing sophistication of gifting, payroll and GPR.

And as technology has fueled innovation in financial services and retail, prepaid’s flexibility has lent itself as a building block for new innovations, including hybrid products, social gamification, PFM platforms, cash infusions in the mobile wallet, and more. GPR has evolved into alternative financial services; gifting has blossomed as an integral part of Omnichannel retail strategy; and emerging payments are, naturally, impacting the entire ecosystem.

 As technology advances, margins tighten and competition heats up, the prepaid business is changing, and All Payments Expo (APEX) will be focused on helping attendees map the evolution of their businesses. Our loyal attendees will be able to meet with their existing partners, customers and clients – but there will be a lot of new faces, and new potential partners, too.

Here’s a snapshot of how Prepaid Expo has evolved: And a window into how the industry has changed, too.

  Prepaid, you’ve come so far… 

2006: 1st Prepaid Expo in Orlando Focuses: Unbanked, Underserved, Payroll 

2014: (APEX) All Payments Expo in Las Vegas 
Focuses: Alternative Financial Services, Omnichannel Retail Strategy, Emerging Payments, Prepaid, Gifting, PFM, Healthcare Reform, Cash-Based Innovations, mPOS, Future of Interchange, Gamification, APIs, Loyalty, the Wallet and MORE.

If you’re in prepaid, your business is changing rapidly. So too, is the longest-running event built for the prepaid industry. See you in Vegas!

And by the way – we are already building out our agenda and speaker faculty for the 2014 event. If you’d like to get involved or speak, please contact Diana Middleton at

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Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Payroll Card Programs Receive Unwarranted Criticism

The Sunday New York Times featured a piece called Paid via Card, Workers Feel Sting of Fees, a sweeping look at perceived too-high fees of prepaid payroll cards. It was a story that rankled many in the prepaid industry – mostly for not providing concrete data that compared and contrasted card fees with checking accounts and payday loans.

Patrice Peyret, the CEO of BankingUP, wrote a rebuttal for Huffington Post. In his essay, Peyret systematically dissects the New York Times article, pointing out that the story does not provide fee data for the specific cards it mentions and failing to adequately emphasize that employees are given options other than payroll cards.

In addition, he says, the story did not provide concrete figures comparing sophisticated prepaid programs with more expensive alternatives, such as high-interest payday loans. (The article did quote a Citigroup spokeswoman who noted that cashing a $500 paycheck would likely end up paying a $15 or 3% fee at a check-cashing service.)

“Finding a few people to say they're upset and citing the general growth of prepaid cards as a proof of the problem's scope just places all payroll programs under the same umbrella and paints them with a black brush,” Peyret writes.

Read Payret's full rebuttal here.

Peyret’s essay is a powerful example of what can happen when the industry tells its story in a highly visible way. We’d love to see more industry leaders making their voices heard, starting with our blog and LinkedIn groups. Contact Ryan Geswell for more details. 

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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Paybefore Recognizes Market-Leading Programs in London

Last week at Prepaid Expo Europe, Paybefore announced the Paybefore Awards Europe 2013 Best-in-Category winners. Paybefore Awards Europe was created to recognize excellence and innovation in the European prepaid and emerging payments market.

“Prepaid is a global phenomenon,” said Marilyn Bochicchio, Paybefore CEO. “Nearly all of the companies we’re honoring here tonight are supporting innovative and effective programs in Europe, and are operating in or planning to expand into new geographic markets.”

2013 Paybefore Awards Europe Best-in-Category Winners are:

Best Gift Card or Voucher Programme
£5 for a £10 Starbucks Card eGift, LivingSocial Deal
Starbucks, LivingSocial and CashStar

Best Prepaid Incentive, Reward, Rebate or Loyalty Card Programme
Western Union MyWU Prepaid Card
Western Union

Top Prepaid Retailer
Supported by InComm Europe

Best Consumer Value
paysafecard group

Best Corporate- or Government-Funded Programme
Simple Payment
Citi Prepaid Services and Department of Work and Pensions

Most Innovative Programme
Bratislava City Card
First Data

Outstanding Mobile Wallet or Application
O2 Wallet
O2 Money Telefónica UK

Breakout Company of the Year

Wave Crest Group Limited

For a complete list of winners, click here. 
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Friday, April 12, 2013

Retail Focus – Everything you need to know about Prepaid

The world of retail is continuously changing, with retailers having to be innovative and ahead of the competition to remain strong, with this in mind where does a gift card or prepaid scheme sit?. The prepaid market is both one that is lucrative, fast moving and diverse with the UK and Europe quickly catching up to our US counterparts with the UK alone having a total value of £4.74bn in 2012.  The Prepaid industry covers gifting in either a voucher form, gift cards or more recently in a digital / virtual format. The opportunities cover both B2B and B2C, with B2B becoming increasingly significant year on year.  Distribution channels within B2C are easily identifiable as in-store, online or through a third party.  B2B is more complex with various routes to market and segmentation including reward and recognition, incentive and motivation, government, charity, savings and insurance replacement.

Launching a gift card, e gift code or a voucher can be daunting; however, there are true benefits which retailers can reap from a prepaid product beyond the obvious income of a card or code.  Working to a financial model it is possible to explore the benefits to a retailer including instrumentality, breakage and cash flow providing profitability beyond just the cash value sale.  Join us next week at the Prepaid Expo Europe at 9am on 17th April where this will be explained in further detail and exploring the in’s and outs of the financial benefits to a retailer.

Brian Dunne:
President of the IMA in Europe, IMA ( Incentive Marketing Association ) is the not for profit trade association for the incentive industry, which is a role I am very proud and humbled to have.
I am also MD and equity partner at SVM Europe from which I have the honour of working with the very best in class.

SVM is the global leader in gift cards , the leading and largest supplier of gift cards to incentive companies and driver of incremental sales for many of the greatest retail brands on the planet.

Prior to that I was CEO at Action Solutions, the UK’s leading prepaid consultants. 25 years experience in retail and hospitality, including holding positions at some of the prepaid market leaders such as Whitbread Leisure Vouchers and The Post Office. Worked with some of the world’s largest retailers and hospitality brand providers, including Target Corporation, WHSmith and Boots, helping clients to set up new gift card programmes, analyse gift card performance, drive incremental trade through B2B and other channels and to develop new and innovative uses of prepay to achieve specific business objectives and goals.

IMA Europe:
IMA Europe, a Strategic Industry Group of the Incentive Marketing Association, was formed with the mission of stimulating and developing the benefits that incentive marketing offers to all kind of organizations in Europe. The IMA is a reference organization for the local incentive and motivation markets as a European mirror to the IMA US.

With the task of helping incentive and motivation marketing become widely accepted throughout Europe, IMA Europe is making an important effort to become a permanently updated information source, promoting its member’s interests and the best industry practices.

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Thursday, April 11, 2013

Mobile Payment Adoption

Mobile payment adoption has become a pressing matter in the retail industry with everyone looking to successfully integrate new technology with the payment systems already in place. KFC is the latest retailer to make a splash with its AIRTAG partnership announcement to launch the chain’s first ever mobile and web app designed for ordering and paying, titled “KFC Fast Track”. This seamless ordering experience includes; geolocation, mobile and web ordering/payment capabilities, a mobile check in feature for in-store order recall. Plus, customer accounts so users can store details for one click payments.

IT Director of KFC UK & Ireland, Paul Borrett said, “Our customers lead increasingly busy lives and KFC Fast Track is focused on helping them order, pay for and collect their food faster than ever before.”

The same themes continue driving today’s innovation – accessibility and simplicity,  Many key players in the retail industry are testing products similar to KFC’s, such as Starbucks with their Square Wallet. As mobile payment solutions are becoming increasingly popular, who will win the race to mobile payment supremacy?

In just one week, hundreds of prepaid and payments leaders in Europe will converge to discuss the latest innovations that are posing the biggest opportunities for banks, merchants, mobile players and programme managers. If you want to capitalize on the evolving landscape, this is where you’ll find new partners, sharpen your strategy and dive into thought-provoking discussions on how the payments landscape continues to evolve across Europe.

To see the full agenda and register, click here.

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Thursday, March 7, 2013

Network Branded Prepaid Cards: Transcending Traditional Boundaries

Traditionally, prepaid cards were thought to be for unbanked or underbanked people who cannot get a checking account or qualify for a credit card. As payment trends shifted from cash and checks to debit and credit, prepaid cards were a solution that allowed people without bank accounts to purchase online items, pay over the phone, make collect calls and track spending.

Prepaid cards have matured and found their own value proposition in several areas other than just being a replacement for credit cards and checking accounts. They are uniquely fulfilling the needs that were left unaddressed by traditional payment products:

  •  Student cards for university funds disbursement
    • Rather than waiting for scholarship and loan checks to be cut, mailed and sent, universities can now quickly and efficiently, load funds on student cards that act as both student IDs and prepaid debit cards. Not only is it easier to track allocated funds, inventory, shipping and labor costs of disbursement are dramatically reduced.
  • Teen cards controlled by parents
    • With a prepaid card issued to teenagers but managed by parents, this mutually beneficial option gives both parties freedom and control respectively. Parents are able to load the card at their discretion and monitor how their child is spending the money. Because funds can be loaded remotely (either online, over the phone, or automatic transfers) there is added convenience and security in case of emergencies. Parents can also restrict the cards to be used only at places they would like their children to go to 
  • Commercial prepaid cards for employers/employees 
    • Helping small businesses manage business-related payments, commercial prepaid cards, unlike credit cards, are available to both employer and employee. With card management websites, employers can tailor cards to ensure projects stay on budget and control the type of purchases that the employees can make. Employees don’t have to pay upfront or spend company time on expense reports. Commercial prepaid cards work very well for small employers/businesses that cannot get commercial credit cards or those who do not want their credit history be tarnished because of unscrupulous use by a vagrant employee. 
  • Travel/Forex cards 
    • Travel and Foreign Exchange (Forex) cards reduce your exposure to fraud and does not impact your credit history if lost or misused abroad. With Travel cards, you don’t have to exchange cash or traveler’s checks to foreign currency; saving you time and risk of carrying physical money. Forex prepaid cards can be directly loaded in the currency of your destination country which is not possible with a checking account (debit card) or a credit card. 
  • Government fund disbursement 
    • Government prepaid fund disbursement significantly reduces costs because it doesn’t require printing, posting or handling of checks. Processed payments are deposited directly onto the Government issued card, reducing clerical error, lost postage and mail fraud. 
  • FSA/HSA accounts 
    • Flexible Spending and Health Savings accounts can be used to pay for qualified medical expenses at any time without federal tax liability or penalty. Patients can receive needed care without submitting claims or waiting for approval of benefits. Because consumers are more responsible for their own health care choices, it saves them time and insurance companies’ administrative and customer service costs.
  • Transit cards 
    • Transit cards are much more efficient from the now obsolete token payment process. Not only does the prepaid card heavily reduces cost of minting and storing tokens, it gives passengers options to buy transit packages or pre-purchase rides without having to collect and carry loose tokens. Prepaid transit cards can be easily bought at a kiosk which is not possible for credit cards yet. 
  • Payroll cards/Sales commission/Incentive card 
    • Prepaid cards for employees are an efficient method for wages, compensation and bonus payments. Employers can easily load Payroll cards for payment of services, travel expenses or commission. Like Government distribution, Payroll cards reduce the cost of cutting checks. It’s also convenient for employees because they have access to their money immediately after deposit. Such cards are very useful for adhoc payments of any kind where the payer does not have payee’s bank account or if the payee does not want to share his bank account information for security reasons.
  • Remote check deposit 
    • Remote check deposits are beneficial because it allows companies to deposit checks from their computer rather than having to go to the bank. This eliminates travel expense, reduces admin and paperwork, and allows you to consolidate bank relationships, as well as, have speedier access to deposited funds. Looking at the potential of prepaid cards, Visa in 2012 announced a service, Spyke, which allows all Visa prepaid card holders to deposit a check by taking its picture from their smartphone.

The continued expansion of prepaid options has evolved the payment industry by reducing time and cost, while also, increasing convenience and efficiency in unique ways. Prepaid cards are no longer ‘just’ an alternative to credit cards and checking accounts for underbanked and unbanked.

This was a guest blog written by CoreCard Software, Inc.

About CoreCard Software, Inc. 

CoreCard Software, a leading provider of card management systems and processing services, offers an array of account management solutions to support the complex requirements of the evolving global financial services industry. The CoreCard® software solutions provide the market's most feature-rich platform for processing and managing a full range of card products including prepaid/stored-value, fleet, credit, debit, commercial, government, healthcare and private-label cards as well as accounts receivable and loans. Headquartered in Gwinnett Innovation Park in Norcross, GA with additional offices in India and Romania, CoreCard is a subsidiary of Intelligent Systems Corporation [NYSE Amex: INS]. For more information, call 770-564-8000 or visit
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Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Prepaid Expo Day 3: Morning Recap

In the morning session of the 3rd and final day of the Prepaid Expo, a panel made up of industry executives discussed global markets, in a session titled, "Identifying Key Global Markets". In case you missed the session here is the list of the members of the panel: - Mike Hafer, SVP, Global Prepaid, Western Union - Brian Dunne, Managing Director, Incentive Marketing Association - Lee Manfred, Partner, First Annapolis Consulting - John Yeomans, General Manager, EMEA, FIS For those of you unable to attend the session, here is a quick recap: - Identify what segments you want to play in and what the needs of those segments are. - It has to be intuitive: make it as simple as possible. - The importance of local and cultural knowledge is critical. When you work with a local team, you have to relay on those people to be the experts. You have to listen. - You have to develop around the consumer - don't skip the customer research - Tip: There is quite a difference between wisdom and knowledge. Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is knowing not to put it in a fruit salad. Look at the BIGGER picture.

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Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Prepaid Expo Day 2: Evening Recap

In our evening session today titled, "What's driving the Payments Market? Future through the eyes of the investors" there was a venture capitalist panel discussing what truly is pushing the payments market forward. The panel of venture capitalists was made up of: - Arjan Schutte, Managing Partner, Core Innovation Capital - Ramneek Gupta, Managing Director, Venture Leader, Citi Ventures - Scott Feldman, Director, Susquehanna Growth Equity - Michal Petrzela, Principal, Lightyear Capital For those of you who missed it, here is a quick recap: - Mobile payments phenomena: due to smartphone and tablet usage - 1.5 billion people have desktop internet access as well as mobile access (mobile is continues to grow rapidly) - Top 15 payment oriented companies collectively generate 50 billion in revenues - Based on slowing growth rate, dropping margins and more competition it is no surprise we've already witnessed five powerful acquisitions in 2013 - Advice for entrepreneurs: develop and cultivate relationships with everyone, leverage your network, and think about who will find your business valuable one day.

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Prepaid Expo Day 2: Mid Day Recap

"Are GPR Cards a Destination or a Journey?" was an interactive panel with many industry heavyweights debating the trajectory of prepaid GPR cards. The panel was moderated by the CEO of Paybefore Marilyn Bochicchio and the panel was made up of: - Dan Henry, CEO, Netspend - Brett Adams, Lead, U.S. Prepaid Products, MasterCard Worldwide - Mark Putnam, SVP & Divisinal Manager of Prepaid Solutions, First Data - Adam Rust, Director of Research, Reinvestment Partners Incase you missed the session, here are some highlights: - There are 68 million people that are underbanked - for many, GPR cards are the only choice (18-23% of all people get turned down on traditional banking options) - Over the past few years, the total cost of ownership for prepaid cards has steadily decreased - Prepaid options that are totally transparent can lead to increase trust from the consumer - Mobile enabled features is key: it all comes down to combining the paper and the digital worlds - The appeal of prepaid is about having immediate access to your funds

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Prepaid Expo Day 1: Evening Recap

The Annual Paybefore Awards take time to recognize key players in the prepaid industry who have made significant strides in the space. This year there were many deserving candidates but the list below are the "Best-in-Category" winners. Congratulations to those who won an award. Paybefore Awards: Best in Category Winners Best Network Branded Gift Card Program - Western Union Gift and Greeting Card Most Effective Closed Loop Prepaid Card Program - Do It Yourself Home Improvement Gift Card Best GPR Card Program U.S. - PayPal Prepaid MasterCard Best GPR Card Program International - American Express Global Travel Card Best Third Party Payroll Program - ALINE Card by ADP Best Corporate Payroll Card - Walmart Money Network Payroll Distribution Service Best Prepaid Incentive Reward Rebate or Loyalty Card Program - Vitality Healthy Food Card/Walmart Best Benefits Distribution Card Program - Aetna Flu Care Card Best Business to Business Prepaid Card Program - TPC Payables Prepaid Visa Card Outstanding Mobile Wallet or Mobile App - Moneto Prepaid MasterCard and Mobile App Best Virtual or Digital Program - 10$ Starbucks eGift for 5$ LivingSocial Deal Most Effective Marketing Campaign - Visa National Consumer Campaign 2012 Best Retail Merchandising - Green Dot Retail Marketing Best Prepaid Card or Packaging Design - Simple Visa Best Consumer Value - BlackBoardPay Most Effective Solution - UEPS/EMV Debit SASSA MasterCard Best non-US Based Program - Power to Pay Most Innovative Program - MTA Reload Card Best Retail Based Prepaid Card Program - Walmart Expanding the Boundaries of Prepaid - Discover Outstanding newcomer - Kaiku Visa Prepaid Card Breakout Company of the Year - Rev Worldwide Industry Achievement - Brooks Smith: President and CEO of InComm & Roy Sosa co-founder and CEO Rev Worldwide

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Monday, March 4, 2013

Prepaid Expo Day 1: Mid Day Recap

Sheryl Connelly, Global Consumer Trends and Futuring, Ford Motor Company kicked off the Prepaid Expo this afternoon with a Keynote address titled "Futurist: How to innovate for what you don't anticipate". Here are some highlights from the session: Wildcard Analysis: how do we predict the future? How can we deal with unplanned occurrences - Katrina, the recession, etc... Trends: a deep rooted long held value or behavior. How do we study these trends to plan for the future? Scenario Planning: a way to provoke new thinking, while entertaining every possibility. From a baby boom to an alien invasion, you need to think through every possible scenario as you look towards the future.

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Prepaid Expo Day 1: Morning Recap

Richard Crone, Founder and CEO of Crone Consulting LLC, just spoke in one of the opening sessions at the Prepaid Expo. His session titled "Advanced Mobile: Strengthen Your Mobile Core" drew an interactive audience eager to learn from what Richard had to share. Here is a quick recap just incase you missed out: "The one who enrolls is the one who controls" - Mobile Payment Apps are not actually about payments, they are about the big data. You controls the consumers data - not a third party source. - The amount of time consumers have spent in retailer apps has skyrocketed 525% from Dec. 2011 to Dec. 2012 - Companies that use mobile apps saw an increase in sales and operational effectiveness, higher conversion rates, and higher retention rates - Mobile Apps are about recognizing your best customers - not displacing the cashiers in the store. - The average smartphone user has 40 apps on their phone and only uses 15 of them.

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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

TSYS Set to Acquire NetSpend in $1.4B Deal

TSYS, a leading global payment solutions provider announced yesterday that they will acquire NetSpend, a leading U.S. provider of general purpose reloadable (GPR) prepaid debit cards to underbanked consumers. It’s a transaction valued at approximately $1.4 billion.

At Prepaid Expo, attendees will get exclusive insight from NetSpend that will provide analysis on this strategic move. Dan Henry, CEO of NetSpend, will be giving his insights on the future of GPR alongside a panel of heavy hitters. Additionally, Tim Pfeifer, Corporate Counsel at NetSpend, will join Don Mosher of Schulte Roth & Zabel for an executive session focused on M&A and IPOs in prepaid – which will shed some light on the consolidation environment in the prepaid space.

For TSYS, the move is transformational in its move to grow its business while complementing its foothold in prepaid processing, according to Philip W. Tomlinson, TSYS’s chairman of the board and CEO.

“[The acquisition] enables us to meet our strategic goals of diversifying our business, being a more innovative payment solutions provider and expanding our role within an area of payments that is expected to grow at a 20% annual rate over the next four years,” said Tomlinson in a statement.

This is a major deal in the prepaid industry, positioning TSYS, the huge processor, to maintain market share amidst strong competitors like Square while accelerating the growth of NetSpend, which should place even more pressure on competitors like Green Dot.

With NetSpend’s extremely extensive distribution network of over 62,000 locations, 130,000 reload locations, and more than 2.4 million accounts, TSYS and NetSpend are solidifying themselves as one of the industry’s biggest players.

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Monday, February 11, 2013

Combination ID/Prepaid Card: Set to Debut in Oakland

Prepaid is one of the most flexible forms of payment available – and its latest incarnation, in Oakland, California, is a city-issued ID card for undocumented residents who are often financially vulnerable and under- or unbanked. It is the first city in the U.S. to offer municipal ID cards with prepaid features.

The card, dubbed the Oakland City ID Prepaid MasterCard  is a joint venture between SF Global, MasterCard, and University National Bank. The card was designed to provide identification (particularly so users can identify themselves to legal authorities) as well as provide entrance into affordable financial services. Card users can take advantage of direct deposit, as well as shop online with the card.

According to the Oakland Tribune, the card alone will cost $15. The prepaid features cost $2.99 per month. Other fees include a $1.50 ATM withdrawal fee, a 75-cent fee on purchases and a $1.75 fee for calling customer service. It will cost $2.95 to load money onto the card.

The applications for the program are now being accepted by the city and the first cards expect to be issued by March 15th. The city expects to issue 6,000 cards this year.

A similar card is slated to debut in Richmond, Calif., and apparently, Los Angeles is also considering the idea. What do you think of this sort of opportunity for the prepaid industry? This is a huge development for the prepaid industry because it is a direct link between a person’s identity and spending –increasing security for unbanked finances.

Where will prepaid head next? Find out at the Prepaid Expo this March. For more information about the Expo, click here.

See the full article here.

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Friday, February 8, 2013

Showcase your Innovations in Mobile and Emerging Payments at Prepaid Expo

Is your company changing how people can pay? The diversity of the prepaid market has made it a ripe industry for technological adoption and implementation.

Prepaid Expo 2013 has created an all-new Emerging Payments Pavilion for 2013 in the central hub of the exhibit hall. Attendees can learn about and shop for new technologies and payment systems to implement into their business plans.

Own your own 10 x 4 ½“ storefront in the Mobile Pavilion and showcase your solutions to 1,400+ players in the prepaid market; including decision-makers from card networks, processors, banks, retailers, technology providers, and telecommunications.

Space is very limited, sign on today! For more information, or to reserve your space today, please contact Matthew Middleton – 646.616.7604

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No More Overdraft Fees for UTB Prepaid Customers

According to the Center for Responsible Lending, U.S. Households spend more on overdraft fees than on fresh veggies. Whether financial reform will change that remains to be seen.

On Friday, the $566 million-asset Urban Trust Bank (UTB) of Lake Mary, FL has stopped charging overdraft fees on prepaid cards. This came in response to consumer advocates who claimed the card offered overdraft protection for a fee of 15 cents for every $1 in negative balance, a rate that exceeded the interest-rate caps in several states.

The prepaid industry is getting scrutinized more and more about overdraft protection, regulation, as well as the fees – as we saw last week with the prepaid reforms from Attorney General Pam Bondi in Florida. In March at the Prepaid Expo, we will have a panel discussion on overdraft protection with a Netspend executive.

See the full list of speakers and to learn more about the Prepaid Expo click here.

See the original article here.
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Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Facebook: The Next Player in Prepaid?

Facebook is expanding their prepaid presence with the launch of its own branded gift card. The card began rolling out last week and continues to expand availability gradually for U.S. users. This card is currently available for use at four merchant partners; Jamba Juice, Olive Garden, Sephora, and Target. Once a user physically possesses the card, gift amounts will be loaded onto that card – which has separate balances for each merchant. Balances are available to monitor from within users Facebook accounts, and users will receive a notification every time  a charge is made.

This is an interesting move from Facebook – especially given the numerous more flexible gift card options in the market.  Does a move from a social media heavyweight like Facebook have merit or do their failed attempts at virtual currency hang a shadow over this development?

Either way you see it, Facebook’s move clearly denotes one thing – prepaid is a growing industry and competition continues to heighten.

Prepaid Players –  let us know what you think about this move from Facebook!

See the full article from Paybefore here.


Ryan Geswell is a New Media Analyst in the Finance Division at IIR USA with a background in Marketing and Media. He can be reached at
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Monday, February 4, 2013

Where Do YOU Think Prepaid and Payments are Headed?

The Prepaid Expo and the Mercator Advisory Group have co-authored a prepaid industry attitudinal survey. Respondents from across the entire prepaid industry will be able to voice their opinion on where they feel prepaid is headed. 

You can participate in the survey here or scan the QR code. The survey has been divided into two separate paths, with tailored questions for GPR players and closed-loop players. Participants will be entered to win a 16GB iPad with retina display.

Results from this survey will be revealed at the Prepaid Expo this March – as well as the winner of the iPad. Data from the survey is exclusive data that you will not be able to find anywhere else. You do not want to miss the opportunity for exclusive industry insights. Click here to register for the Prepaid Expo.

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Thursday, January 31, 2013

5 Reasons You Can't Miss Prepaid Expo Europe

Increased competition, often from nontraditional players, slim profit margins and regulation have been placing pressure on prepaid businesses around the globe. However, as we’ve been discussing here on our blog, recent digital and mobile innovations have ignited the payment world providing a host of opportunities to combat traditional hurdles and reinvent how we think about payments and banking.
As we continue our year round research, we shaped our Prepaid Europe agenda around these exact themes. Here’s a list of our top five sessions planned for Prepaid Expo Europe

1. What You Need to Know About Expanding Your Prepaid Programme Across Europe

Industry leaders, including Ticket Master, will address how they’ve taken a successful prepaid programme and moved it into new geographies, including how they’ve overcome cultural idiosyncrasies and regulatory hurdles. (Reminder: This is just one of FOUR pre-conference workshops to choose from – see them all here.)

2. Wallet Hype vs. Reality: What’s the Future of the Wallet?

Sift through fact and fiction and hear when industry experts predict the digital wallet take off? Executives, including the O2 wallet, will dissect the appetite for a wallet, and which functionalities will pave the way for mass adoption.

3. What Incentives Really Make an Impact? – Straight from an HR Director

We’ll be interviewing an HR Director to gain insight into how and where incentives make an impact in the workplace. Get the information you need to tailor programmes that are attractive to employees – and maximise your presence in the B2B channel.

4. Saying Good-bye to the Paper Cheque: A New Era for Government Payments

Hear from both Citi and the Department for Work and Pensions in a case study on how prepaid is replacing paper cheques on a new electronic platform giving you a feel for how to eye new opportunities – and enact them.

5. Have the Needs of the Consumer Changed?

Shoppers’ preferences are shifting in kaleidoscopic fashion, including mobile browsing, show-rooming, and eCommerce. Are you leveraging these changes in your prepaid programme? What are the newest consumer-driven innovations? You’ll be inspired to rethink the product pipeline after this session.

This is just a taste of the 20+ hours of content and networking we’ve put together for Prepaid Expo Europe, the largest gathering of retail, B2B and open-loop executives focused on prepaid in Europe.

Click here to download full agenda and speaker details.

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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The NFC Solution for the iPhone

The iPhone may not be NFC-enabled, but some payment players are trying to change that. U.S. Bancorp has been testing a touch-to-pay technology for iPhone users. The NFC-enabling technology is built into the smartphone case. This is big news for iPhone users, especially as the iPhone has not yet been equipped with NFC technology.
For iPhone customers, this opens up a new form of tap-and-go payment. Niti Badarinath, U.S. Bank's digital strategy and mobile banking head, said in an interview last year that he views mobile payments as "the next frontier."
NFC has been under fire from several players in the payments ecosystem, includingPayPal. But this latest move shows that there are many industry players who believe in NFC. With the market share for iPhones in the U.S. at 32%, will this NFC-equipped case change the game for NFC proponents?
Join us at the Prepaid Expo in March where industry experts from Giftango, Visa, Blackhawk, Oberthur Technologies and many others will be discussing the future of NFC, mobile wallets and other emerging technologies.


Ryan Geswell is a New Media Analyst in the Finance Division at IIR USA with a background in Marketing and Media. He can be reached at

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