In what it called a first in the prepaid card industry, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said it added a cash-back incentive feature to the MoneyCard. When customers use the MoneyCard to buy gasoline, they will receive 1 percent cash back. The program expires Dec. 31, 2010. "We know our customers need to stretch their budgets wherever they can," said Jane Thompson, President of Wal-Mart Financial Services. "It's one more way we can help families save money."
As part of National Hurricane Preparedness Week (May 23 to 29), the U.S. Department of the Treasury recommended that federal benefit check recipients who live along the Gulf Coast and Eastern seaboard "disaster-proof" their money by switching from paper checks to electronic payments.
The Treasury Department said hurricanes can cause mail delays and other problems that may prevent federal benefit paper checks from arriving on time. In the case of Hurricane Katrina, for example, tens of thousands of emergency payments had to be issued to evacuees who did not receive their checks, according to the Treasury Department. The federal agency suggests two electronic payment alternatives to paper checks:
In Global Prepaid Card Market Potential Ranking 2010, Mercator Advisory Group provides an overview of the top international prepaid card markets worldwide. Based on 2008 data, the top prepaid markets are North America, Latin America, the Asia Pacific region and Europe.
The leading prepaid card categories are government, gift, open-loop, general purpose reloadable, payroll, incentive and campus cards, according to Mercator. In 2008, the 30 largest markets in the world represented $762.2 billion in funds loaded, the Boston-based consultancy said. Outside the United States, Germany, Italy, France, the U.K. and Spain are the "world's most promising markets for prepaid cards," Mercator added.
Prepaid card processor eCommLink Inc. joined the PCI Security Standards Council (PCI SSC) as a participating organization. "Membership and participation in this internationally recognized organization impels us to maintain the highest standards and follow industry best practices to ensure customer security and satisfaction," said Victor Newsom, Chief Operations Officer and Executive Vice President of Business Development at eCommLink.
Global Cash Card was recognized as the "Overall Winner" of the Paytech Magazine November 2009 issue AdQ Study. Paytech Magazine is the official publication of the American Payroll Association.
Identity theft protection and resolution service provider ID Watchdog Inc. launched idCheck, which uses ID Watchdog's patent-pending technology to immediately identify whether unwitting consumers have been victims of identity theft. Distribution of the product on prepaid cards will be managed by InComm.
Having purchased American Express Co.'s minority interest in American Express Incentive Services LLC, Maritz Holdings Inc. renamed the company InteliSpend Prepaid Solutions LLC.
MoneyGram International said Canada Post added over 3,000 new locations to the existing 3,000 MoneyGram agent locations in Canada. The expansion marks the final phase of a 2008 agreement to increase the number of MoneyGram money transfer outlets through the Canadian postal service, the company said.
Additionally, MoneyGram added Ukio bankas, a Lithuanian bank, to its global money transfer network.
Prepaid card processor nFinanSe Inc., in conjunction with entertainment partner Inspire, released Volume 2 of free music downloads on its online music site, nFinanSeMusic.com. The music, by new and emerging artists, is intended to attract young adults from 18 to 25 years old to the site, where nFinanSe can then promote its prepaid card products.
"We view nFinanSeMusic.com as a revolutionary new approach to brand marketing," said Jerry Welch, Chief Executive Officer at nFinanSe. "Simply put, it is event marketing meets technology and social media."
U.K.-based Stanton Consultancy Ltd. launched its handheld mobile prepaid card sales solution at Prepaid Expo Europe, held in May 2010 in Brussels. Via SCL's UltraPoS automation system, mobile merchants can sell prepaid cards "on the move," SCL said.
"Mobilising prepaid services in this way allows retailers, or shopping mall owners, to take the sale of prepaid cards to their customers, targeting high footfall areas, relieving queues during busy periods, adding new capacity during seasonal hot spots and offering more convenient and quicker ways to purchase prepaid cards," said Ray Stanton, Managing Director at SCL.
Swapagift.com reported it now offers its gift card exchange service in over 685 agent locations nationwide. The service allows consumers to receive cash for unwanted gift cards. "We have seen an increase in gift card redemptions over the past several months," said Jason Wolfe, CEO of Swapagift.com. "Right now consumers are interested in getting cash, and being able to get cash on the spot without waiting is an added bonus."
Bill pay processor TIO Networks Corp. unveiled a mobile bill payment platform to allow Northern and Central California residents to pay bills via mobile phones. "TIO's mobile bill payment application will be free to download from Apple's App Store and will run on any iPhone OS powered devices such as iPod Touch, iPad and iPhone," said Chris Ericksen, Senior Vice President at TIO.
Total Systems Services Inc. (TSYS) was named the 2010 Card Processor of the Year by Cards International. The international payment news source said TSYS "demonstrated its commitment to innovation in 2009 with the introduction of two new card products."
Alternet Systems Inc. reported its partner Utiba Pte Ltd. is certified to participate in Western Union Co.'s Mobile Vendor Program. Utibe can now support Western Union services on its mobile wallet and mobile banking platforms.
Bionic Products Inc. and phone card company Intercel Telecoms Group Inc. signed an alliance to provide prepaid phone cards for bodegas and other stores in New York City. Beyond the functionality of the cards, Bionic expects the cards to be marketing vehicles for Bionic's energy drinks.
Denarii Systems LLC and Arias Financial Solutions, a product division of Microfinance International Corp., made a pact whereby Denarii will use the Arias remittance platform for back-end remittance processing and compliance monitoring of mobile money transfers conducted by customers in South America, Asia and the Middle East.
InComm Canada signed an exclusive agreement with Canada's Wonderland to make prepaid admission ticketing products available at Toronto area grocery stores. Canada's Wonderland is billed as Canada's first theme park.
MoneyGram signed a seven-year "super agency" agreement with Money Transfer International Ltd., a U.K.-based remittance and foreign currency exchange business. Through the agreement, MTI will lead the acquisition and management of new MoneyGram subagents in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden, Moneygram said.
In other news, Moneygram reported that a partnership with Visa Inc. will allow consumers to transfer money from MoneyGram locations in the United States directly to Visa card accounts of recipients outside the United States. Moneygram said the program will enable funds to be received on Visa-branded credit and debit cards issued by Banco Industrial, a MoneyGram agent in Guatemala.
National Home Services, a division of National Energy Corp., collaborated with prepaid provider DCR Strategies Inc. to roll out a prepaid incentive card for National Home Services customers. People who purchase energy efficient water heaters and enroll in the Green Billing Program will receive $50 gift cards, National Home Services said.
Rebate card program provider Parago Inc. said it now offers rebates through PayPal Inc.'s online payment service. The move eliminates the need for printed paper checks, envelopes and postage to mail rebates, resulting in more ecofriendly promotional programs, Parago stated.
Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises Inc.'s Wow Bao teamed with Mocapay to provide the Chicago restaurant chain Wow Bao with Mocapay's customer marketing and gift card programs.
Kensington Leasing Ltd. reported that it entered into an agreement to acquire prepaid card provider Allianex LLC for $75,000 in cash, 575,000 shares of Kensington common stock and the assumption of Allianex's trade payables. Additionally, Kensington agreed to pay Allianex, in a combination of cash and Kensington common stock, 25 percent of earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization.
U.K.-based online gambling service provider and Net+ prepaid card provider Neovia Financial PLC appointed Keith Butcher as Chief Financial Officer. Butcher worked as Finance Director at Datacash Group PLC and is expected to help Neovia reach the next stage in its development, said Mark Mayhew, CEO at Neovia.
International long distance phone carrier iBasis named Roelant Lyppens to the position of CFO. Most recently an Executive Director at MeesPierson, he replaces Richard Tennant, who is retiring, iBasis said. Tennant joined iBasis in October 2001 as CFO and served concurrently as Senior Vice President of Finance and Administration and as Corporate Treasurer.
MasterCard hired Andrew Ong as Group Head, Global Person-to-Person Payments. Ong, the former Regional Vice President and Managing Director in Western Union's North Asia region and board member of the Western Union Foundation, is tasked with advancing MasterCard's leadership in payment services through the company's MoneySend platform.
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