Payment Data Systems Inc., the parent company of prepaid card processor FiCentive Inc., said in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing that it is in the process of ending its bank sponsor partnership with Meta Financial Group Inc. subsidiary MetaBank.
The Nov. 17, 2010, filing stated that MetaBank's payment division, Meta Payment Systems, informed Payment Data Systems it was terminating its participation in FiCentive's prepaid card programs effective May 11, 2011.
In October 2010, SellingPrepaid reported on the troubles of MetaBank in connection with the iAdvance loan program it was offering through NetSpend Holdings Inc.'s prepaid cards (see "MetaBank's troubles affect NetSpend," SellingPrepaid, Oct. 15, 2010).
In an address at the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia Payment Cards Center, Elizabeth A. Duke, Governor of the Federal Reserve, highlighted prepaid cards as an increasingly preferred payment option, given current economic conditions and new federal mandates.
U.S. economic troubles have caused consumers to turn away from credit cards "not only as a source of credit but also as a method of payment," Duke said. She added that passage of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act has caused banks to reconsider offering free or low-cost checking accounts and look to reloadable prepaid cards as checking account alternatives.
MoneyGram International reportedly won an appeal that negates a $16.5 million patent infringement verdict initially awarded to The Western Union Co. According to MoneyGram, the ruling overturned a 2009 judgment won by Western Union that ruled certain MoneyGram processes relating to how mobile phone-based transactions were sent without the use of "written send forms" infringed on Western Union's patents.
The ruling made by an appellate court at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Court found that on the "grounds of obviousness" that Western Union's claims in its patent infringement lawsuit were invalid, MoneyGram said.
Safeway Inc.'s prepaid card subsidiary, Blackhawk Network, expanded its digital content program, reaching 15,000 of the company's gift card mall locations nationally. Blackhawk will now offer cards for Microsoft Corp.'s Xbox 360 and Sony Corp.'s Playstation Network gaming systems, as well as Apple Inc. iTunes and online role-playing games published by Nexon Corp., according to Blackhawk.
Additionally, Blackhawk expanded its digital content category footprint into several new countries, including Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Mexico, Australia and Sweden. Further, Blackhawk's gift card mall was awarded PTPA Media Inc.'s Winner's Seal of Approval.
CashEdge Inc. added gifting functionality to its Popmoney person-to-person payment service. CashEdge said the new option to Popmoney allows users to send cash or gift cards to recipients via email, mobile phone number or mailing address.
JPMorgan Chase & Co.'s Chase Card Services unveiled the pilot for the Chase GiftShelf, a mobile gift card application available in the Apple iTunes App Store. Chase Card Services said Chase GiftShelf is a free application that facilitates mobile gift card purchases from an array of merchants and allows Chase credit cardholders to send gift cards via text messages or emails.
J.P. Morgan Treasury Services is launching a health savings account (HSA) broker program. J.P. Morgan, which claims to be one of the largest administrators of HSAs via prepaid cards in the United States, will reportedly provide brokers and third-party administrators with a dedicated service and support unit.
MoneyGram gave $200,000 to the American Red Cross to assist in flood relief efforts in Pakistan. The donation is a result of a campaign from Aug. 20 to Sept. 20, 2010, in which MoneyGram pledged a portion of its Pakistan transaction send fees to support relief efforts.
Also, MoneyGram reported its services are now available at over 8,000 State Savings Bank of the Russian Federation locations in Russia. MoneyGram said the launch occurred in one day – "a significant technological and business undertaking and is a first for an agent of this magnitude."
SSI Technologies Inc. commemorated its 15th year of manufacturing gift cards and claimed to have invented the first card in 1995. Ron Goade, President of SSI Technologies, stated, "The seemingly simple gift card was produced for Blockbuster in 1995. We produced a small sampling for the stores in Salt Lake City. They flew off the shelves, and the market was born."
Blackhawk Network inked a deal with retail chain Superquinn to roll out what is reportedly the first gift card mall in Ireland. Blackhawk said gift card malls will appear in 23 stores throughout the country and will be stocked with cards redeemable at local and international businesses.
Coinstar Inc.'s Coinstar Money Transfer division inked a deal with Land Bank of the Philippines to develop a remittance footprint in Italy. CMT said the Filipino community is the third largest foreign community in Italy.
Mobile telecommunications company Digicel Group Ltd. made a pact with Scotiabank to launch a mobile money product for unbanked individuals in Haiti. Digicel reported mobile phone penetration in Haiti grew from 5 percent in 2006 to over 35 percent today. The venture is called TchoTcho Mobile and is designed to allow Haitians to make cash deposits and withdrawals and transfer money without requiring bank accounts.
Mobile messaging firm Impact Mobile Inc. entered into a partnership with InComm to expand the prepaid card distributor's mobile footprint. The agreement will help InComm drive shopper engagement and mobile customer relationship management, the distributor said.
Convenience store chain Kwik Trip Inc. partnered with FiCentive Inc. to launch Visa Inc.- and Discover Financial Services-branded reloadable prepaid cards at Kwik Trip Convenience Stores throughout the Midwest. The cards are activated for $3, nFinanSe said.
MasterCard Worldwide acquired the prepaid card program management operations of Travelex for $458 million in cash, with an additional $55 million potentially owed if certain performance targets are met. MasterCard becomes the exclusive brand for Travelex's prepaid offerings, the Purchase, N.Y.-headquartered card brand said.
Stored-value processor SparkBase hired Matt Mignona to fill the position of Vice President of Sales. Mignona brings 10 years of financial services sales and sales management experience to his post and will guide the strategic direction and execution of the SparkBase sales team, the company said.
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