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The Green Sheet Online Edition

April 11, 2011 • Issue 11:04:01

Prepaid profile: HP Prepaid Card Services


Providing prepaid self-serve for global markets

While Hewlett-Packard Co. is perhaps best known for its role as a Silicon Valley pioneer and its line of personal computers and inkjet printers, it is also a merchant acquirer. Up until now it processed credit and debit cards through the bank channel. But recently it added prepaid card programs to its product portfolio.

"We have had a platform on both the issuer and acquiring side," said Robt Sadeckas, Global Cards Strategist, Enterprise Services, HP. "On the issuing side we did the 'pay now' and we did the 'pay later.' And we had a void in the offering relative to the 'pay before.' So that's why we addressed that."

Sadeckas indicated that through its new HP Prepaid Card Services, part of HP's business and technology services division HP Enterprise Services (formerly Electronic Data Systems, acquired by HP in 2008), the new enterprise will focus on providing banks with self-service prepaid card programs. By self-service Sadeckas means bank-branded websites that provide fee disclosures for prepaid cardholders and offer access to real-time transaction histories and card balances.

Sadeckas said HP's version of a self-service prepaid card solution addressed a shortcoming in the marketplace where banks that wanted to issue prepaid cards would have to do their own program creation and integration. "We wanted to address that and make it easier for our clients to white label and very quickly go to market and provide self-servicing capabilities for their cardholders," he said.

International footprint

Sadeckas called HP the second largest acquirer worldwide, with an especially strong presence in international markets, including Latin America and Asia. Because of that international presence, HP's prepaid card programs are compliant with the Europay/MasterCard/Visa (EMV) security standard, and its cards are enabled with chip and PIN technology.

"Being in the international market, you have to be EMV compliant," he said. "Everybody does it except [the United States]… We think it adds a lot from the security perspective on a stored-value or prepaid card in a number of different environments, like on a campus or a corporate environment."

Through HP Enterprise Services, HP operates one of the largest reservation systems for airlines, such as Virgin Atlantic. Additionally, HP manages the back-office systems for London's Oyster card fare payment system. Sadeckas said HP also has a large footprint in health care claims processing.

"If you look at all those industries, there's a growing need in every one for prepaid capabilities," he said. "For example in the HSA [health savings account] space, there's a lot that can be done relative to integrating that stored-value and adding better controls, adding better reporting, adding better management; by putting it in the purview of our offering, [it] gives us a lot more flexibility to do that integration, to do that customization, to make it a little bit different than the run-of-the-mill products in that market."

Cards in HP's mix

HP also has an interest in general-purpose reloadable (GPR), teen and travel cards, Sadeckas said. He believes the security vulnerabilities inherent in using debit and credit cards online make GPR cards all the more interesting to consumers, as the cards are not tied to checking accounts or credit lines.

The same can be said for teen cards, but with a twist: "Parents want to make sure [their children] have access to funds, but they don't want them to have full access to their credit line or to their checking account," he said.

Travel cards are another potential product category for HP. "In particular we're finding a big demand for the multicurrency feature," Sadeckas said. Travel cards allow users to lock in exchange rates at the time the cards are loaded so that travelers know what they are paying on each transaction as they travel in foreign lands.

As HP enters the prepaid card market, Sadeckas expects the company to follow its previous path to success – a company that excels at "transformation and integration and doing custom development." end of article

HP Prepaid Card Services can be located on the web at http://www8.hp.com/us/en/services or by phone 1.800.566.9337.

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