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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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Prepaid Card Reforms: A Focus on UDAAP Risks

The Attorney General of Florida, Pam Bondi, recently announced settlements with five of the largest prepaid companies operating in the state. The settlements follow an investigation that the companies misled consumers on fees, as well as claims that the prepaid cards would improve their credit histories.

According to a statement from Bondi, “The reforms we are requiring will protect consumers by providing them with the information they need in order to make sound financial decisions, and they establish standard business practices among Florida’s largest prepaid debit card companies.” The settlement also includes a payment of $115,000 to the Central Florida Chapter of Junior Achievement.

While this news is not as brutal as the announcements of settlements over the summer, the legal community is bracing for more such news. With interpretation of UDAAP-related statutes often open-ended and murky, now is the time to protect your firm from risk and compliance issues coming up in 2013.

At Prepaid Expo this March, you’ll hear from Martin Bishop, Chair of Consumer Financial Services Practice and Vice Chair of Litigation Department at Foley & Lardner LLP. In this interactive UDAAP-focused session, you’ll dive into analysis of the statute, as well as tackle hypothetical situations to diagnose your readiness to handle compliance.

Prepaid Expo 2013

What do you think this settlement means for the prepaid industry as a whole? Is this a blip on the radar – or do companies need to join together as an industry to clarify these regulatory mandates?

Read the full article 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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Thursday, January 24, 2013

Your Vote Counts: 2013 Paybefore Awards

Let your voice be heard! Starting Monday Jan. 28th at 8:00am EST, you can participate as Paybefore Awards "sixth" judge to choose Best-in-Category winners in the program categories . This is your chance to recognize the most innovative products and programs in the industry.

Voting will end on Wednesday, Feb. 6th at 5:00 p.m. ET. Anyone may vote in any category (you do not need to be a Paybefore subscriber), so tell your colleagues to vote as well!

Click here to see the voting details in full. Voting couldn’t be easier – just visit starting Monday and click on "Paybefore Awards 'Sixth' Judge Voting."

The winners will be revealed during the Paybefore Awards Ceremony at the 2013 Prepaid Expo on Monday March 4th, at 5:45pm.

Exercise your right as a member of the prepaid and emerging payments community—and vote!

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Sunday, January 20, 2013

Can Green Dot compete with Retail Banks as it beta-tests a mobile banking app?

Green Dot announced this week the debut of a beta version of its mobile consumer checking account – dubbed GoBank – thrusting the prepaid card company into retail banking.

Green Dot has been diversifying its business through several acquisitions and in this latest move is looking to leverage the negative sentiment and fee fatigue that many consumers have towards traditional banking institutions.

The GoBank checking app targets smartphone users and is FDIC – Insured. It leverages Green Dot’s extensive ATM network and includes optional fees, as well as a bevy of mobile features, such as remote check deposit. One feature, called “Ask The Fortune Teller”, is geared toward encouraging users to save money – drawing comparisons to tools from nontraditional banks like Simple and leaving the retail banking community to wonder if this is enough to secure a seat in an already crowded market.

In an interview with AmericanBanker, Green Dot CEO Steve Streit points out that this product is an FDIC – Insured bank account – which differentiates it from the prepaid Bluebird card from Walmart and American Express, which is issued and backed by American Express Travel Related Services Co., Inc. What does this mean for Bluebird, Simple, or other third party options?

Streit, CEO of Green Dot will be speaking side by side with American Express at this year’s Prepaid Expo (as well as executives from MasterCard and InComm). With the race on to capture the wallet power of consumers at a fever pitch, you can expect a lively discussion about mobile strategy and what opportunities exists for traditional prepaid players in the larger payments ecosystem. 

Check out the full article 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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Friday, January 18, 2013

Behold: Frictionless, Conversational Commerce!

By Marc Dresner, IIR
If you’re not already familiar with Chirpify, you’re not alone. But don’t be surprised if the name becomes as common to social media vernacular as the network that inspired it.
Many people first heard about the start-up last summer after an 80-year-old artist’s attempt to “restore” a 100-year-old fresco of Jesus Christ in Spain went disastrously, almost comically wrong and the results went viral.
On the heels of the “Ecce Homo” fiasco (as the botched project has come to be known), an artist/musician plastered the messianic mess on a T-shirt and sold hundreds of them. Directly. To her followers. On Twitter. In a matter of hours. Through Chirpify.
Ironically, to that point, nary a peep had been uttered about the fledgling company, which raised $1.3 million in a Series A round back in April.
But the significance of several thousand dollars in T-shirt sales didn’t escape the attention of The Wall Street Journal and other business press this time for good reason: The incident officially ushered in the age of frictionless, conversational commerce.
Chirpify Senior Account Manager Heath Black claims that social media heretofore haven’t been successfully deployed in the payments industry due largely to “friction”—too many steps on the current path to purchase between a social network and checkout.
Social media haven’t been successfully deployed in the payments industry due largely to “friction”—too many steps on the path to purchase between a social network and checkout

Heath Black
If you’re starting from a social media platform, he explained, to buy something from a merchant online you must link from the social network to a website, locate the advertised item, log in or sign up and jump through whatever other hoops may be required to make the purchase.
“Friction is burdensome and causes tension,” said Black, “so there’s a high probability that the customer will abandon their quest along the way.”
Worse yet, friction effectively negates the contextual value of a social media interaction.
“The seller starts out talking to an engaged audience, but then has had to pull them off the social medium—out of and away from the conversation—in order to complete the transaction,” said Black. “You lose the social aspect of the sale.”
Chirpify, by contrast, enables merchants and customers to transact financially and relationally at once by eliminating the need to leave the social network.
Chirpify enables merchants and customers to transact financially and relationally at once by eliminating the need to leave the social network

How it works: Chirpify links the user’s Twitter account to a Paypal account. Sellers—individuals, companies, political fundraisers—tweet whatever it is they’re selling. The Twitter user simply hits reply and types in “buy” (or some other short term prescribed by the seller like “gimme”) to complete the transaction in one clean, easy step.

The process is so simple, noted Black, that an independent artist who uses Chirpify remarked that compared to traditional ecommerce, “[Chirpify] feels like street vending.”
“On Twitter, the stream is the street,” said Black. That street currently spans customers in 43 countries. And because the money is routed through Paypal, Chirpify accepts multiple currencies in a secure environment. It’s also platform agnostic—smart or dumb phone, tablet, computer—the device doesn’t matter.
For those looking for proof of concept, Black estimates that Chirpify’s sign-up page—the one and only step that doesn’t involve a direct sale—has a 70% conversion rate (roughly seven times that of the average ecommerce site sign-up).
Chirpify also reportedly significantly outperforms traditional ad click-through rates (0.2%), averaging 1.3%.
But Chirpify’s most compelling feature may be its potential reach.
Black cited a campaign for a Nashville record label promoting free downloads of a new song. According to Black, within 2 hours the listing was re-tweeted 33 times, which translates to 115,000 potential viewers based on the average number of Twitter followers to whom it was re-tweeted.
It’s also worth noting that every re-tweet constituted a defacto endorsement by a trusted, independent source, not a targeted message from a marketer. “These are essentially word-of-mouth recommendations, only they’re broadcasted to anyone who follows the person who passes along the message,” said Black.
Lastly, for those companies grappling with Wannamaker’s dilemma, there’s no issue calculating the ROI on direct marketing through Chirpify. You just look at a tweet and see how it performs (the company collects a 4% commission on each sale).

Marc Dresner is IIR USA’s senior editor and special communication projects lead. He is the former executive editor of Research Business Report, a confidential newsletter for the market research and consumer insights industry. He may be reached at Follow him @mdrezz.

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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Prepaid TV Presents Carman Wenkoff, CIO, Subway

In the video below, Carman Wenkoff, Chief Information Officer at Subway and Former Chairman of the Board and Co-President of the Retail Gift Card Association LLC, shares a retail perspective on the evolution of Prepaid with Prepaid TV™ -- the official streamcast network of Prepaid Expo.

Prepaid TV™ is an executive interview series featuring the leading voices in prepaid today, along with a few rising stars that you should know about. We gather insights and answers from a variety of perspectives – networks, banks, retailers, programs and providers – on the forward-facing issues that matter most to the prepaid industry. Prepaid TV™ is produced by Prepaid Expo, the world’s largest, most comprehensive and independent forum dedicated to meeting the information and business needs of the entire stored value community. You can explore more videos and interviews here.

Join us at Prepaid Expo 2013 taking place in Orlando this March. It's Prepaid's only independent expo proven to generate business for the entire stored value community:

* Mention your Prepaid Expo Blog VIP code to SAVE 10% off the standard and onsite rate: XU2648BLOG10
Phone: 888.670.8200 or 941.951.7885


Marc Dresner is IIR USA's communication lead. His background is in trade journalism and marketing research. Prior to joining IIR, Dresner was the executive editor of Research Business Report, a confidential newsletter for the marketing research and consumer insights industry. He may be reached Follow him @mdrezz.

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