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A Mercator Advisory Group study indicates a unique genre of payment products is emerging that combines elements of prepaid cards with small-dollar credit lines.
Hybrid credit/prepaid cards can be loaded via cash, direct deposit, or by utilizing a line of credit or payroll advance.
Mercator's The Rise of Hybrid Credit/Prepaid Cards report focuses on this payment type and offers best practices for their issuance, management and marketing.
According to Mercator, this fusion of prepaid with credit offers small credit lines (under $1,000) and is meant to meet consumers' short-term credit needs.
Typically these cards require consumers to establish direct deposit or deposit account relationships with card issuers. While hybrid credit/prepaid cards generally provide short-term - but expensive - credit fees, most of them provide credit at a lower cost than payday loans, Mercator said.
However, since the products combine aspects of prepaid and credit, they would operate under both depository and credit regulations. Thus, issuers and program managers must carefully define customer service responsibilities and capabilities.
"It is clear that we are at the convergence of a consumer need and a range of solutions to address that need," said Ken Paterson, Mercator's Director of Credit Advisory Service. "Hybrid cards offer consumers the convenience of POS payments combined with the facility of short-term, low-dollar amount loans," he added. "The economic climate is certainly supportive of their development, and a number of product approaches are vying to capture this opportunity."
The Network Branded Prepaid Card Association, a nonprofit, inter-industry trade association founded to advance the success of American Express Co.-, Discover Financial Services-, Visa Inc.- and MasterCard Worldwide-branded prepaid cards, issued tips for consumers on how to pay less to use unemployment benefit cards.
"Unemployment benefit cards, as a replacement for paper checks, save hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, presenting a compelling benefit for the state as well as the taxpayer," said Kirsten Trusko, NBPCA President and Executive Director.
"When consumers take a few minutes to read the welcome kit that comes with the card, they can virtually eliminate all surcharges, as well as take advantage of immediate funds availability, fraud prevention and cost savings."
Maxis Communications Bhd, in collaboration with Nokia, Visa, Maybank Group and Touch'n Go, laun-ched Maxis FastTap, an integrated mobile payment service that uses near field communication.
Customers can use Nokia 6126 Classic phones to purchase goods and services at more than 1,800 Visa payWave merchant locations as well as pay for toll, transit, parking and theme park charges at over 3,000 Touch'n Go stations nationwide.
Payment services company MoneyGram International Inc. began offering its global money transfer service throughout 1,200 M. Lhuiller bank locations in the Philippines.
MoneyGram's service enables Philippine customers the option to receive transactions in U.S. dollars as well as Philippine pesos.
Prepaid solutions provider NetSpend Corp. and ACE Cash Express Inc. reported that NetSpend cardholders now have the ability to donate to the March of Dimes Foundation through an online account center at NetSpend.com or via text message through mobile devices. The March of Dimes card is sold exclusively at all ACE Cash Express stores.
The Scheffer Group has taken over the prepaid card business formerly controlled by Altair Financial Services International PLC and is working with MasterCard to maintain the standards of card programs issued by Newcastle Building Society.
Des Moines, Iowa-based social banking company SmartyPig LLC launched m.smartypig.com to provide SmartyPig card users the means to access account information. Users can view the current status of their savings goals, track transition history and make money transfers from mobile devices.
Foreign exchange and business payment specialist Travelex debuted the Corporate Cash Passport to allow companies to centralize and better manage travel budgets by reducing administrative costs, providing auditing capabilities and increasing security.
The CCP card is loadable with U.S. dollars and is MasterCard-branded.
In April 2009, TSYS introduced its CentreSuite product to Europe. The commercial card management tool was launched in North America in 2002 and is now used by more than 140,000 businesses. CentreSuite is a Web-based platform that provides companies using business cards, corporate travel and entertainment cards, and purchasing and fleet cards with real-time account management, online reporting and expense management workflow.
Western Union Co. introduced a new way for sending money within the United States. The company is expanding its prepaid card platform with an Overnight Home Delivery service featuring the company's MoneyWise Visa Inc. prepaid card.
The pilot program allows St. Louis and Kansas City consumers to use the money transfer service to send funds throughout most of the United States.
BancTec Ltd., a processing services and solutions provider, signed a five-year agreement with reloadable prepaid services company Payment Card Technologies in which BancTec will deliver information technology and call center services to support PCT's prepaid card business. With this agreement, BancTec will support back-office process work for PCT, enabling PCT to expand internationally.
Springbok Services Inc. enhanced its executive management team with the addition of L. Kelly Bolin as Senior Vice President of Human Resources. Bolin brings 18 years of industry experience to the job of overseeing the company's development in the prepaid card industry.
Kieran Chung joined value-added prepaid debit processor eCommLink Inc. as the company's Chief Technology Officer and will oversee eCommLink's development and engineering team.
Oregon-based prepaid payment solutions company NxSystems Inc. hired Scott Devoe as a sales and marketing representative. Devoe has more than 20 years of experience, most notably with NetSpend, Metavante Corp. and MoneyGram.
Prepaid solutions company Coinstar Inc. selected former Redbox Automated Retail LLC Chief Executive Officer Gregg Kaplan as its new President and Chief Operating Officer, succeeding Paul Davis. Davis was promoted to CEO and was also named to Coinstar's board of directors. Kaplan will be responsible for all of Coinstar's operations, sales, manufacturing, supply chain, customer service, and research and development.
InComm, a prepaid processing and POS solutions firm, appointed Frank Monaco its new Vice President of International. Monaco's responsibilties include managing and developing international business to expand InComm's global distribution footprint.
Payment solutions firm i2c Inc. introduced Facundo Rivera as its new Director of Client Account Manage-ment. Rivera will be responsible for leading and managing i2c's client relationship management efforts.
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