Media outlets reported 36 people were indicted as part of an organized crime ring in Phoenix that apparently perpetrated over $1.2 million in gift card fraud. Reports said Scottsdale, Ariz., police were alerted in April 2010 to a man auctioning off retail gift cards online. Investigators subsequently uncovered a gift card scam that reportedly defrauded the Angel Tree holiday toy program that provides Christmas presents to the children of convicted felons.
Dublin, Ireland-based research firm Research and Markets issued a report that concludes the U.S. underbanked remain reluctant to use traditional bankcards primarily due to fears of hidden costs and fees. According to Wooing the Underbanked, the 43 million underbanked in the United States spend approximately $10.4 billion on over 324 million alternative financial services products. Therefore, that population represents an "immense, untapped consumer segment" for prepaid cards, the report said.
The Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Co. Ltd. began installing prepaid electricity meters in homes across India, according to The Times of India. The meters are recharged over the Internet, as well as via "coupons" in the form of prepaid cards inserted into the meters. The MSEDCL plans to set up 20 self-service vending machines across the state to enable consumers to buy recharge "coupons," the news outlet said.
First Data Corp. reported that the United States Patent and Trademark Office granted the world's largest acquirer a patent for technology that allows merchants to save time at the POS by activating bulk packages of prepaid cards at one time, without having to scan or key in the account number of each prepaid card individually.
Sun City Lincoln Hills, a retirement community in Lincoln, Calif., enlisted the aid of Smart Transaction Systems' GiftCardGreatness.com to sell physical and virtual gift cards online to its population of over 11,000 retirees, thereby creating a new revenue stream for the retirement community.
Vienna, Austria-based prepaid "voucher" provider paysafecard group celebrated its 10th anniversary with the news that it increased its processing volume in 2010 by 40 percent over 2009.
Money transfer specialist The Western Union Co. launched a foreign exchange payment service to enable the traveling employees of small and medium-sized businesses to make payments via smart phones, with currency exchange rates locked in prior to the transfer of funds.
Prepaid card processor i2c Inc. reported additions to its global client roster in Europe, Central and South America, and Africa. The new i2c partnerships are with service companies from Stockholm, Sweden; Sao Paolo, Brazil; Johannesburg, South Africa; and Belize.
Social game publishers Mentez LLC and Zynga joined for game card distribution in Brazil. Latin America-based Mentez will reportedly distribute Zynga Game Cards and PIN numbers at more than 1 million retail locations and Internet cafes across the South American country.
Visa Inc. and the Cash Learning Partnership, a consortium of humanitarian aid organizations, partnered to provide disaster relief aid to victims via prepaid cards and other digital tools. The project will reportedly leverage Visa's experience working with governments around the world to disburse benefit payments.
YESpay International Ltd., a Europay/MasterCard/Visa compliant processor of chip and PIN gift cards, integrated its capabilities with Tee-On Golf Systems Inc.'s golf management software, which is designed for the POS retail environments of golf course clubhouses.
Neovia Financial PLC, U.K.-based provider of the Neteller virtual wallet and the Net+ prepaid card, completed the acquisition of Optimal Payments. The acquisition was announced in January 2011, at which time Neovia revealed it intended to change its name to Optimal Payments PLC.
Don Kingsborough, the man credited with inventing the gift card mall concept, joined PayPal Inc. as Vice President for Retail and Prepaid Products. Kingsborough was the founder and CEO at Safeway Inc. subsidiary Blackhawk Network.
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