CFSI scholarships for Prepaid Expo
#dcf_The Center for Financial Services Innovation is providing scholarships to February 2010's Prepaid Expo USA in Las Vegas to representatives of nonprofit companies serving under- and unbanked consumers. Applications for the award have been submitted (the deadline for applying was Jan. 19, 2010), and CFSI says recipients will be notified by Jan. 27. CFSI, an affiliate of ShoreBank Corp. that works with banks, credit unions, technology vendors and other companies to serve the under-banked, launched its scholarship program on Jan. 6.
Sarah Gordon, Nonprofit Relationship Manager for CFSI, said the company hasn't yet decided how many scholarships it will give out, but it anticipates awarding between five and 10. The scholarships will cover both airfare to and from Las Vegas and the registration fee for the conference, which is being held Feb. 22 to 24; the company said the expenses of one representative from each company that receives the award will likely be bankrolled. "The Prepaid Card Expo is the industry's leading event, and we are committed to helping nonprofits better understand the prepaid card industry," Gordon said. "Typically nonprofits don't go to these kinds of industry conferences, so we think it's a great learning opportunity for them and we think that by getting more exposure to this space they'll think more seriously about engaging in a partnership with a firm to actually distribute the product."
Gordon said the scholarships were part of CFSI's broader initiative, launched in early 2009, to bring more nonprofit organizations into the prepaid card sector. She said CFSI estimated 40 million American households were "financially underserved" and that a down economy and questionable bank practices have spurred interest in prepaid cards. She added that the prepaid segment has drawn interest from an increasingly varied array of organizations.
"We've definitely seen nonbank financial services companies start serving the un- and underbanked en masse," she said. "The nonfinancial firms have stepped up, including the nonprofits. ... They've realized over the past few years the social problem that exists with so many people that don't have safe transactional products. They don't have the tools that help them save, they don't have access to affordable credit, and nonprofits are asking themselves what they need to do in response to that."
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