Several prepaid card companies took action to help Japan recover from the devastating March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami.MoneyGram International donated $25,000 to the American Red Cross and activated its ExpressPayment service to deliver cash donations to the disaster relief agency when funds are sent from one of MoneyGram's 35,000 U.S. agent locations.
Additionally, Obopay Inc. and Calgary, Alberta, Canada-based Benevity partnered for a text-to-donate initiative. The process, which combines Obopay's mobile payment technology with donation management, tax receipting and corporate matching functionality provided through Benevity, reportedly allows consumers to make donations in the hundreds of dollars, with the donations rapidly reaching relief organizations in Japan.
On March 1, 2011, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network released updated anti-money laundering (AML) regulations. FinCEN reorganized and renumbered into a new chapter the regulations found in Part 103 in Chapter I of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) under the heading "Title 31, Money and Finance: Treasury"; it is now Chapter X of Title 39 of the CFR, and is entitled "Title 31 Chapter X - Financial Crimes Enforcement Network."
According to FinCEN, the reorganization streamlines the Bank Secrecy Act regulations into "general and industry-specific parts, making the regulatory obligations clearer in their structure and more accessible to affected financial institutions."
FinCEN has set up a webpage devoted to Chapter X to help companies transition from the old regulations. Interested parties can also call FinCEN's Regulatory Helpline at 800-949-2732 and select option 6.
In a letter to the Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Treasury, three senators of the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control urged a crackdown on prepaid cards transported across the U.S.-Mexico border. The March 16, 2011, letter can be accessed at http://drugcaucus.senate.gov/pre-paid-cards-3-16-11.html.
U.K.-based smart card software provider and consultancy Aconite launched Mobile Prepaid with its partner Proxama. The new solution extends the capability of its recent implementation of a smart card fare payment system in South Africa, Aconite said. Customers can now use near field communication-enabled mobile phones as mobile wallets for fare payments on South Africa's taxi-buses, the company added.
BMO Bank of Montreal, issuer of the Prepaid Travel MasterCard, said prepaid travel cards are increasingly being used in Canada in lieu of cash and travelers checks for out-of-country spending. The bank added that BMO Prepaid Travel MasterCard has quickly gained popularity, exhibiting year-over-year double-digit growth since its introduction in 2007.
First Data Corp. unveiled mobile voucher technology to allow merchants to extend brands and commerce services to customers with mobile devices. First Data mVoucher enables merchants to deliver offers to consumers through email or text message.
NovoPayment, the Miami-based program manager of prepaid solutions in Latin America, won two awards at the 5th Annual Paybefore Awards held during the 2011 Prepaid Expo USA in Orlando, Fla. NovoPayment won Best in Category for its Plata Promociones program, as well as the 2011 Industry Achievement Award for its Chief Executive Officer, Anabel Perez.
Western Union teamed with Latin Grammy award-winning recording artist Daddy Yankee to launch "Love in Any Language," a national campaign designed to help consumers express affection for loved ones.
Person-to-person (P2P) payment provider CashEdge Inc. signed an agreement with Visa Inc. to enable Visa credit, debit and prepaid account holders to send and receive P2P payments domestically and internationally through CashEdge's Popmoney.
Loyalty and gift card network provider SparkBase said EVO Platinum Services Group, an ISO of EVO Merchant Services, selected SparkBase for reward, gift card and mobile marketing functionality on the ISO's Platinum Rewards Network.
Nonprofit organization United Way said it is implementing Obopay's text-to-donate mobile donations solution to enable online donations in Central Virginia.
Western Union reported it will now offer its Account-Based Money Transfer service to accountholders of Emirates NBD Bank throughout the United Arab Emirates. The service allows users to send money transfers directly from bank accounts via the online, mobile and ATM channels.
MoneyGram engaged Aaron Henry as its Senior Vice President, Associate General Counsel, and Global Regulatory and Chief Privacy Officer. Henry is tasked with strengthening relationships with regulators around the world and communicating with lawmakers on matters that impact MoneyGram and money services businesses.
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