In December 2009, the Network Branded Prepaid Card Association and consumer advocacy groups, led by Consumers Union, sent letters to the Federal Reserve offering recommendations on implementation of the gift card requirements outlined in the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009.
The NBPCA feels that, due to the diversity of prepaid card offerings and functions, many types of cards should not fall under the gift card category. Therefore, such instruments as payroll, teen and general-use reloadable cards "should not be subject to restrictions designed solely for gift card products," the NBPCA said.
Consumers Union, along with the nonprofit Consumer Action, the Consumer Federation of America and the National Consumer Law Center, believes gift card regulations do not go far enough. It recommends the rules include caps on various fees prepaid card issuers charge cardholders. Additionally, the coalition of consumer advocates suggests nonreloadable, general use prepaid cards be included in the gift card regulations.
Republican Ashvin Lad, formerly a Product Manager in the Prepaid Card Division of Discover Financial Services, finished third in Illinois' Fifth Congressional District primary election held Feb. 2, 2010.
Despite endorsements by The Chicago Sun-Times and The Chicago Tribune, Lad trailed Rosanna Pulido and David Ratowitz, who became the Republican candidate to challenge Rep. Mike Quigley, D-Ill., in the mid-term elections to be held in November 2010.
Paybefore awarded edo Interactive prizes in two categories: Most Innovative Card Program and Best Consumer Funded Card Program. Ed Braswell, Chief Executive Officer of edo, said the awards demonstrate how "edo is a force in the card and reward technology business. Our Preward technology is like no other in the business, bringing coupons on payment cards across the industry."
MoneyGram International extended its specially discounted price of $1 for money transfers to Haiti through Jan. 31, 2010. The Caribbean nation experienced a devastating earthquake on Jan. 12. MoneyGram, which operates 186,000 locations worldwide, said it has 40 money transfer agent locations functioning in Haiti, including three in the capital city of Port-au-Prince and five in surrounding cities.
In other news, PropertyBridge Inc., a MoneyGram subsidiary that delivers property management services, signed a deal that will bring its payment platform to the property management clients of Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
Also, the Visa Inc.-branded MoneyGram AccountNow prepaid card won the Best Third-Party Prepaid Product Retail Program Paybefore Award. The card program, a collaboration between MoneyGram and AccountNow, a San Ramon, Calif.-based alternative financial services company, was launched in August 2009.
U.K.-based Neovia Financial PLC reported that its Neteller e-wallet was chosen by the iGaming Affiliate Awards for Best Payment System for Affiliates for the third straight year.
Neteller allows online gamers to spend on betting and gaming sites operated by such Neovia affiliate partners as BSkyB, SEGA, BeatYa Online Entertainment Ltd., GWbet.com and Winunited Ltd.
The Royal Bank of Canada will issue Coca-Cola-bottle-shaped Visa contactless prepaid cards to athletes, coaches and team officials participating in the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.
The cards utilize Visa payWave technology, which allows cardholders to wave cards at contactless readers, rather than swipe them through POS devices. Cardholders will be able to purchase beverages from vending machines in Olympic and Paralympic venues in the Canadian cities of Whistler and Vancouver, British Columbia.
Online payroll provider Payoneer won a Paybefore Award for the Best Business/Corporate-funded Program: B2E (business-to-employee). The award came for Payoneer's MasterCard Worldwide-branded prepaid card program used by Internet-based businesses to pay their global workforces. Yuval Tal, CEO at Payoneer, said card issuer MetaBank afforded Payoneer "exceptional support" and allowed the New York-based company to innovate and succeed.
The State Bank of India formally launched the Visa-branded SBI Gift Card. A ceremony to commemorate the rollout took place at the SBI branch in Hyderabad, the capital city in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. With Shiva Kumar, Chief General Manager at SBI, in attendance, B Karthika Chandra Reddy, Mayor of the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corp. (an urban development agency that oversees Hyderabad), expressed hope that the card would help the bank reach new customers.
The cards come in denominations as low as 500 rupees (approximately $10).
An agreement between Total Systems Services Inc. (TSYS) and Germany-based acquirer B+S Card Service GmbH will allow TSYS to provide B+S Card Service's merchants with back-office solutions. B+S Card Service operates in 12 European countries and has facilitated electronic payments for over 20 years, TSYS said.
According to international mobile money transfer company VoiceCash, the United Arab Emirates' remittance market has an annual payment volume of approximately $10 million. To roll out a new service to reach expatriates from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh living and working in the UAE, VoiceCash retained Dubai, UAE-based Newboard Capital as a strategic adviser.
Safeway Inc. subsidiary and prepaid card distributor Blackhawk Network Inc. teamed with Microsoft Corp. to deliver Xbox Live game cards through Blackhawks' gift card malls. Through the malls, gamers will be able to purchase Xbox Live Gold Subscription and Microsoft Points Cards for downloading gaming and entertainment content, Blackhawk said. "As with most prepaid cards, gaming cards are a perfect fit for self-use and gifting," said Talbott Roche, Senior Vice President of Blackhawk Network.
A deal between U.K.-based online gaming processor Neovia Financial and SEGA Corp.'s SEGA Games Ltd. integrates Neovia's Neteller e-wallet into two new SEGA gaming Web sites.
Neteller, an online cash account that Neovia said allows consumers to spend securely at merchants worldwide, is now available on gaming sites SEGAPoker and SEGACasino. On those sites, gamers will now be able to transfer funds to and from their accounts using Neteller accounts.
Oxford Investments Holdings Inc. entered into a shared-revenue and collaborative agreement with ECOM Financial Corp. ECOM said it will provide reloadable prepaid cards under an unnamed credit card brand to support the Oxford TPS electronic payment platform. Oxford is targeting opportunities within the rapidly growing prepaid card and mobile payments markets - to exceed $7 trillion globally in 2010, according to Oxford's sources.
Sainsbury's Supermarkets Ltd., the U.K.-based supermarket chain of J Sainsbury PLC, renewed its gift card mall partnership with InComm Europe. Under the terms of the agreement, InComm Europe will continue to manage and provide prepaid cards for SSL's gift card mall network over the next four years. In 2006, InComm and SSL launched the U.K.'s first gift card mall, InComm Europe said. The initial mall featured cards from 10 partners; it now features over 70 cards in such market categories as retail, digital music, digital content and gaming, financial services, lifestyle, experiential, and mobile.
Galileo Processing Inc. and EPS Financial LLC partnered to provide Drake Software customers with tax refunds on prepaid cards. Tax preparers using Drake Software will have access to Visa Inc.-branded, open-loop cards on which the preparers' customers can receive tax refunds. Tax preparers using Drake's tax software now have access to EPS Financial's new e-Collect program, which allows taxpayers to take advantage of electronic filing and refund disbursement options. Funds can be direct deposited into bank accounts, given via checks or loaded onto E1 Visa Prepaid Cards.
Len Pienaar joined the management team of text messaging provider Clickatell (PTY) Ltd. as a financial services marketing specialist. Pienaar, former CEO of First National Bank's M-Commerce Division, is tasked with advancing the use of the mobile phone in enterprise and financial services deployments across Africa and elsewhere.
Business Logic Systems Ltd., a specialist in real-time prepaid marketing campaign automation and customer loyalty solutions for mobile network operators, appointed Tim Yates as CEO.
Yates brings to his new position over 25 years of experience in commercial operations and marketing for consumer and telecommunications brands. Yates' mandate is to lead Business Logic Systems' global expansion.
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