In its annual survey, Michigan consultancy McGraw Wentworth said economic forces combined with greater availability of consumer directed health plans (CDHPs) are spurring the growth of the consumer driven health care (CDHC) model. According to the 2010 Southeast Michigan Mid-Market Group Benefits Survey, Michigan employers are shifting more health plan costs onto employees, with 23 percent of employers in 2010 offering CDHPs, compared to 19 percent in 2009. Prepaid cards work with CDHPs to facilitate health care payments at the point of service.
New research from Mercator Advisory Group reported that restricted authorization networks (RANs) are "quickly changing the traditional prepaid landscape and bridging the gap between open- and closed-loop cards." In a report entitled Understanding Restricted Authorization Networks, Mercator said RAN technology creates closed-loop, subnetworks using the open-loop networks of card brands and electronic funds transfer operators. The solution therefore allows for spend on open-loop, network-branded prepaid cards to be directed to select merchants, the consultancy added.
At the 5th Annual Underbanked Financial Services Forum, Jennifer Tescher, Director of the Center for Financial Services Innovation, said the CFSI plans to evaluate current services for underbanked consumers in order to create "values" designed to boost the underbanked's adoption of financial services products such as prepaid cards.
Accor Services changed its name to Edenred as part of the proposed breakup of the Accor's Hotels and Prepaid Services businesses, Accor said. Accor, which operates payment services in 40 countries, said it chose the name Edenred to reflect the company's Eden corporate project, where "Eden" represents the initials of the project's French slogan, "Entreprendre Différemment Ensemble" (Moving Forward Differently Together).
Prepaid card processor AccountNow Inc. introduced a credit feature to its AccountNow Gold Visa Prepaid Card, which allows cardholders to borrow money and build credit histories. The feature is called iAdvance Line of Credit and is a MetaBank product.
ElectraCard Services, headquartered in Pune, India, collaborated with MasterCard Worldwide for its Partners in Prepaid Program. The program brings together processors and program managers with expertise in executing prepaid MasterCard programs in the Asia Pacific region, the Middle East and Africa.
On-demand bill pay provider Vindicia integrated the gift card platform of prepaid card distributor InComm into Vindicia's CashBox billing system. The integration will allow Vindicia's merchants to expand their consumer demographics with a gift card solution, the company said.
MoneyGram International reported its global money transfer network hit 200,000 agent locations. Moneygram reached the milestone when it added to its agent network SRD MP and its partner Bimedia, a value-added services provider for tobacco and news retailers throughout France, the company said.
MoneyGram also signed First Bank of Nigeria PLC to a contract, which the company said will expand its services to over 500 bank locations across the African nation. Additionally, MoneyGram inked an agreement with Citigroup Inc. to expand its services in Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua.
1World Cash, the money transfer and prepaid card division of Las Vegas-based One World Ventures Inc., said it expanded its remittance capabilities into Indonesia to reach the 150,000 Indonesian migrant workers who live in Hong Kong, where 1World opened its first office.
Plastyc Inc. reported that UPside Visa and iBankUP prepaid cardholders can reload time on their prepaid cell phones without having to employ additional phone cards. With Plastyc's prepaid cards, users can top-up cell phones and transfer minutes to friends and families in 30 countries.
Remittance processor RP Solutions Inc. reported it has secured 10 new customer contracts since the beginning of 2010.
The new customers that will employ RP Solutions for its remittance processing capabilities include city governments, municipal utilities, a health care biller, a collections agency, a retail supercenter and a nonprofit organization, the company said.
USA Technologies Inc., a noncash, wireless transaction network provider, expanded its JumpStart cashless vending program by adding the ePort G8 terminal to the ePort EDGE terminal.
The Western Union Co. signed an agreement with Turkey's Yapi Kredi Bank for the expansion of its money transfer distribution network into 830 YKB branches throughout Turkey.
Limestone College and CardSmith LLC renewed the agreement that provides the South Carolina liberal arts school with CardSmith's multi-application campus card solution.
The LCard allows for on-campus meal and student store purchases, as well as other uses on school grounds, CardSmith said.
Mobile payment platform provider Mocapay Inc. established a strategic partnership with Full Cycle, a Boulder, Colo.-based high-end bicycle retailer.
Mocapay said the partnership will allow Full Cycle to leverage Mocapay's software-as-a-service platform to enhance the bicycle company's marketing and sales efforts through the mobile phone channel.
RegaloCard LLC entered an agreement with IDT Corp. for the distribution of RegaloCard's micro-money transfer service to immigrant communities in the United States.
7-Eleven Inc. said it partnered with game publisher Zynga to offer FarmVille-, Mafia Wars- and YoVille-branded items on many of the convenience retailer's products, including Slurpee and Big Gulp drinks.
TSYS Healthcare, a Total Systems Services Inc. subsidiary, signed an agreement with Lighthouse1 LLC, a CDHC administration software solution provider. The partnership enables CDHC administrators to manage prepaid benefit cards using the Lighthouse1 OnDemand Platform.
Visa Inc. and BBVA Bancomer S.A. subsidiary Bancomer Transfer Services Inc. teamed for a money transfer service to give U.S.-based Visa cardholders a means to transfer money to friends and family living abroad.
InComm purchased Coinstar Inc.'s E-Payment business for $40 million. Incomm bought the business to expand its retail footprint by broadening its distribution in convenience stores, according to Brooks Smith, CEO of InComm.
Mercator Advisory Group welcomed Ben Jackson as Senior Analyst to its Prepaid Advisory Service.
Jackson served as editor for several payments industry publications and worked most recently as an independent consultant. At Mercator Jackson will focus on analysis of the ever evolving prepaid card industry, the Boston-based advisory said.
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