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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Check writing comes to Bluebird

When prepaid cards are marketed as checking account alternatives, the writing of physical checks may be a feature offered but not often promoted. And yet American Express Co. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. revealed on March 26, 2013, that the addition of a check writing capability to their alternative checking account platform, Bluebird, is now front and center.

The new service allows Bluebird accountholders to order Bluebird checks either online or via the Bluebird mobile app and use the checks to pay bills and make purchases based on a preauthorization process. Accountholders can pay with checks "without worrying about insufficient funds or incurring overdraft fees because a member's funds are set aside during the pre-authorization process," the companies said.

To preauthorize a Bluebird check, customers must obtain a unique authorization code. "[O]nce a Bluebird check is pre-authorized, the funds associated with that check are immediately deducted from the customer's balance, and are held until the check is presented for payment," the companies noted. Customers then write the authorization code on the check and give it to the payee, who can confirm that sufficient funds are available for the purchase by calling AmEx.

"Since launching Bluebird, we have been listening to our customers' feedback and working hard to expand its features and services," said Daniel Eckert, Vice President of Financial Services at Walmart U.S. He noted that the Bluebird enhancements help active duty military personnel and government employees take greater control of everyday finances.

Madeline K. Aufseeser, Senior Analyst at Aite Group LLC, said the check writing feature helps AmEx round out its product offering, "particularly in the case with certain billers who may not accept card payments [such as] private landlords for renters or some doctors." end of article

Editor's Note:

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