According to the 2010 Federal Reserve Payments Study, transaction volume on prepaid cards was the lowest among electronic payment forms in 2009. However, prepaid cards represent the fastest growing noncash payment type overall, the study said.
The study compared electronic payment trends in the United States from 2006 to 2009. In that time period, the number of overall prepaid card transactions grew 21.5 percent year over year, from 3.3 billion in 2006 to 6 billion in 2009. Meanwhile, the dollar value on the transactions in that time frame kept pace at 22.4 percent yearly growth.
The Network Branded Prepaid Card Association voiced concern over "operational flaws" in the Federal Reserve's recently announced debit card interchange fee structure and network routing proposals designed to implement the Durbin Amendment to the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.
The NBPCA said flaws in the Fed's proposed rulemaking, such as requiring gift cards and flexible spending account cards to include PIN-based debit features, would create inefficiencies, increase fraud risks and raise costs for issuers that would be passed on to consumers.
In the First Data SpendTrend Bi-Weekly Closed-Loop Prepaid Cards analysis, First Data Corp. said gift card activation levels declined as spending dropped off overall in the first half of December 2010, and recession wary consumers remained cautious when it came to gift giving purchases.
First Data reported that during the first two weeks of December, year-over-year dollar volume on activations dropped off 0.3 percent, compared to activation growth of 8.6 percent in November. Additionally, overall year-over-year dollar volume growth of redemptions slowed to 3.9 percent in December, down from 5.9 percent in November.
ACE Cash Express Inc. donated $3,803 and 1,710 pounds of food to the North Texas Food Bank, which served over 17,000 meals during the 2010 holiday season. The donation was made through the ACE Community Fund, ACE's corporate philanthropic program.
For the 2010 holiday season, Citigroup Inc.'s Citi Cards donated 100,000 AT&T prepaid phone cards worth approximately $700,000 to U.S. troops stationed abroad. Each phone card provided 20 minutes of free international talk time to the United States from AT&T military calling centers in areas like Iraq and Afghanistan.
Las Vegas-based processor eCommLink Inc. released what it calls a first-of-its-kind global processing platform that supports an array of international payments. The architecture of the platform enables "localization" of the processing engine based on regional regulations, language, currency and processing standards, while still offering flexibility and a robust feature set, eCommLink said.
Ten merchants now offer virtual cards on Facebook via the First Data eGift Social application. First Data Corp. launched eGift Social in July 2010 with Cold Stone Creamery. Since then it has added Kmart, Sears, Sephora, Dots, Boston Market, Burger King, Culver's and Joe's Crab Shack.
InComm, provider of the Vanilla Visa prepaid card, reported it gave the Los Angeles Unified School District 100 Vanilla Visa Gift Cards prior to Christmas 2010. The cards were valued at $100 each and were awarded to select teachers at Marshall and Fremont high schools.
The InsurCard Visa Prepaid Card, issued by the Bancorp Bank Payment Solutions Group, an entity of The Bancorp Inc., won the Best International Prepaid category at the Oscard awards ceremony in Paris. The InsurCard allows insurance companies to control payments and ensure on-time fund disbursals to claimants, the company said.
7-Eleven Inc. stores in Australia now offer money transfers via MoneyGram International. The service, available through self-service kiosks operated by the Cullinan Consulting Group., is being rolled out in about 400 stores across Australia, thereby tripling MoneyGram's network in the country, the money transfer specialist said.
In addition, MoneyGram added 4,200 locations to its network in India through Bank of Baroda, Axis Bank and Vijaya Bank. MoneyGram now sports over 30,000 locations throughout India.
Also, MoneyGram reported it made a loan prepayment of $75 million; added to previous prepayments, its debt burden has been lowered 35 percent since January 2009.
U.K.-based Stanton Consultancy Ltd. (SCL) reported it activated its 30 millionth prepaid card. With its UltraPoS solution, SCL manages the sale and distribution of travel money and open- or closed-loop prepaid cards.
Blackhawk Network said its gift card mall is now available on the website of eBay Inc. Blackhawk called eBay the "perfect complement" to Blackhawk's global network of supermarkets, big box retailers, convenience stores, pharmacies, specialty and Internet retailers.
In other news, Blackhawk made a pact with Tesco Bank to place gift card malls in over 600 Tesco stores across the U.K.
The New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority partnered with JPMorgan Chase & Co. for a 90-day pilot program that provides the city's Access-A-Ride customers with Chase Visa prepaid cards for taxi rides.
Monetization-as-a-service (MaaS) PlaySpan Inc. teamed with platform-as-a-service provider IP Commerce Inc. to deliver PlaySpan's solutions to social and digital content developers through IP Commerce's Managed Services Platform.
Additionally, Nexon America, the North American online game publishing arm of Nexon Corp., inked a deal with PlaySpan to leverage PlaySpan's MaaS platform to expand purchasing capabilities for gamers and provide credit card processing and fraud risk management services.
NovoPayment Inc. subsidiary, Tebca Mexico, along with MasterCard Worldwide, launched the Bonus Alimentación MasterCard, a corporate prepaid card designed to assist public and private organizations in Mexico in distributing food and meal benefits to employees.
Prepaid card software developer VendTek Systems Inc. signed an agreement with Brazil's mobile telecommunications company Software Express to implement a prepaid phone card program in the South American country.
Processor i2c Inc. hired Mark Sumby as Vice President, Business Development. Formerly, Sumby served as National Sales Manager at Columbus Data Services LLC.
Online gift card exchange operator Plastic Jungle Inc. tapped 15-year industry veteran Loren Scott for the position of Vice President of Business Development.
Electronic benefits card provider Evolution Benefits Inc. promoted Lynda Godkin to Vice President and General Counsel. Godkin will continue as Senior Vice President and General Counsel for EB subsidiary Women's Health USA Inc.
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