The Green Sheet Online Edition
June 08, 2009 • Issue 09:06:01
Prepaid in brief
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Prepaid trafficker conviction a milestone
TracFone Wireless Inc., the largest U.S. provider of prepaid mobile phone services, said that the May 19, 2009, conviction of an international trafficker of prepaid mobile phones is an important milestone in the industry's battle against bulk prepaid purchasing scams in the United States.
Muhammed Mubashir, a resident of Sugarland, Texas, pled guilty in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas to charges of criminally disobeying a federal court order prohibiting him from continuing to purchase, tamper with or export prepaid mobile phones.
Some of these schemes include altering mobile phones' proprietary software, repackaging the devices and then reselling them in the United States and abroad to unsuspecting customers in Latin America, Asia and the Middle East.
TracFone officials said the company will continue to pursue those who participate in prepaid mobile phone trafficking because it undermines the industry's ability to provide affordable, quality prepaid mobile devices.
According to TracFone, consumers are harmed when they purchase altered phones that are marketed and sold as new.
In most cases, the phones do not work as they should, and because they are not new, the manufacturer's warranty is voided.
Honoring prepaid innovators
Pleasanton, Calif.-based Blackhawk Network, the prepaid card distributing subsidiary of Safeway Inc., introduced the winners of its Annual Hawk Awards, which honor organizations that have shown creativity and leadership in the prepaid card industry.
The awards were distributed in five areas. The categories and respective winners are:
- Best Card Design - AMC Entertainment Inc.
- Best Promotional Program - Applebee's IP LLC Neighborhood Bar and Grill
- Most Innovative Product - Disneyland Resort Annual Passport Ticket Card
- Achievement for Advancing the Gift Card Industry - Val Cole of Apple Inc.'s iTunes
- Most Improved Card Program - The Kroger Co.
Conversion fees eliminated
Financial, payroll and debit card solutions company EPAY Inc. introduced its EPAY prepaid MasterCard Worldwide Inc. card, which enables companies to conduct business transactions using prepaid cards with no foreign exchange conversion fees. This feature saves users nearly 3 percent per transaction, the standard cost of conversion.
EPAY's card is designed to meet the needs of international companies of all sizes. The EPAY program is the first with worldwide applications - other providers have been limited to their own countries due to local regulations.
Processor sells subsidiary
Processor FNDS3000 Corp. sold its Atlanta-based subsidiary Atlas Merchant Services LLC in connection with a settlement with the former owner of Atlas LLC.
"Management's strategic review concluded that the Atlas subsidiary was unlikely to provide significant financial contributions or synergies and that both companies would fare [better] under [new] ownership," said John Hancock, Chief Executive Officer at FNDS3000.
Hispanic consumers targeted
MasterCard began an education and marketing campaign that addresses the U.S. Hispanic underbanked and unbanked consumer. As part of ongoing efforts to emphasize the value of its myriad payment products, MasterCard released a 30-second Spanish language commercial entitled "Quebradita" (which means "little break") that informs consumers on money management through debit and prepaid card use.
Australian bank goes continental
Prepaid solutions specialist Postilion, a division of payment services provider S1 Corp., said New Zealand-based Kiwibank Ltd. successfully migrated from an in-house transaction processing system to the open systems-based Postilion platform.
Kiwibank will use a suite of Postilion solutions for all of its electronic funds transfer needs, including solutions for ATM owners and merchant acquirers.
Check cashing alternative Valid
Automated check cashing and verification solutions provider Valid Systems Inc. reported that Advance America, Cash Advance Centers Inc. deployed Valid's TLR100 check verification solution with Advance America's Check-to-Card program in 28 states.
The program is a check-cashing alternative and enables participants to load payroll or government-issued checks onto a MetaBank NetSpend prepaid debit card.
Alliance to boost prepaid presence
Internet security technology provider CyberDefender Corp. and brand management services company Allianex LLC launched a marketing campaign for the sale of prepaid cards for per-use access to a suite of CyberDefender products and services.
CyberDefender believes the deal will enable the company to increase sales by up to $20 million over the next 18 months.
Hoopster helps teens manage money
Prepaid solutions provider Plastyc Inc. and National Basketball Association player A'mare Stoudemire have teamed to encourage young basketball fans to manage their money more responsibly with the Upside Visa Inc. Prepaid Card. The card is designed for teenagers 13 and older. It features Stoudemire's profile and his Each 1 Teach 1 foundation logo.
Partnership proceeds help environment
Prepaid card provider and payment management services specialist SmartCard Marketing Systems Inc. and online marketing firm Prepaid Card Corp. Inc. introduced the Go Green, Friends of the Environment version of SmartCard's VelocityMoney Prepaid Debit Card. Reportedly, a portion of every transaction made with the card goes toward environmental causes.
TNS gets EMV for 5000CE
TNS Smart Network Inc., Canada's largest processor for third-party, "white-label" ATMs (independently owned, nonbank-branded ATMs), received the Interac Association's Europay, Visa Inc. and MasterCard Worldwide (EMV) terminal certification to process EMV transactions on the Nautilus Hyosung MoniMax 5000CE.
TNS teamed with information technology firm Nautilus Hyosung Inc. and payment processor Moneris Solutions Inc. to introduce the first certified "white-label" ATM.
State contractors go green
TransCard LLC partnered with Chattanooga, Tenn.-based, third-party risk management and security specialist Contractor Management Services to offer the benefits of TransCard's prepaid cards to CMS's independent contractor members.
France to get new money transfer card
Payment processor TSYS Acquiring Solutions signed an agreement with international money transfer provider TransCash Corp. to launch a prepaid money transfer card in France during the third quarter of 2009. It will be sold by Midi France Telecom.
The card will be Visa-branded and distributed in dual-card packs through French supermarkets. The first card must be loaded with a currency value; the second card can be sent to relatives in Morocco, Algeria or Tunisia.
Audit committee gets new chair
London-based foreign exchange and business payment specialist Travelex appointed Phil Hodkinson as a Non Executive Director and Chairman of its Audit Committee. Until recently, Hodkinson was Group Finance Director of HBOS plc (a banking and insurance group in the U.K.) and Chairman of Insight Investment.
Skinner moves up
Prepaid kiosk operator Coinstar Inc. promoted Michael J. Skinner to President of Coin and E-Payment Services. Skinner joined Coinstar in 2004 and served in several leadership positions for the company's e-payment and entertainment segments. Since 2008, Skinner has been Vice President and General Manager of Coinstar E-Payment Services, during which time he doubled Coinstar's retail installations.
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