The Times of India reported that the Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Ltd. installed 30 prepaid electricity meters at commercial establishments in Lonavla, a city in the Pune district of the Maharashtra province of India. The meters can be recharged over the Internet, as well as via "coupons" in the form of prepaid cards inserted into the meters.
According to the report, consumers who opt for prepaid meters in their homes can buy units of power by making advance payments; once the units are exhausted, consumers can buy recharge coupon prepaid cards from designated MSEDCL centers.
According to Kenya's Daily Nation, the Kenya Power and Lighting Company Ltd. is expanding its prepaid electricity meter program in the East African country. Power customers will be able to pay for electricity in advance via funds loaded onto "scratch" prepaid cards and converted into "utility units," the online news outlet said.
KPLC contracted with South Africa prepaid meter supplier Actaris for the initial delivery of 250,000 meters for a largely domestic utility customer base. KPLC's reported goal is to transition 1.4 million customers to prepaid meter usage, using approximately 300,000 meters installed at a cost of 2.5 billion Kenyan shillings (around $30 million).
The initiative follows KPLC's prepaid meter pilot program that ran in Nairobi and outlying areas from April 2009 to February 2010, the Daily Nation said.
As of May 1, 2011, new applicants for Social Security, Veterans Affairs or other federal benefits must choose to have funds either direct deposited to bank accounts or loaded onto prepaid cards. With paper checks no longer an option, U.S. taxpayers will reportedly save $1 billion over the next 10 years.
The U.S. Treasury Department said approximately eight out of 10 federal benefit recipients already receive payments via direct deposit or the Direct Express Debit MasterCard prepaid card. Recipients who received payments via paper check prior to May 1 have until March 1, 2013, to switch to one of the two electronic payment options.
Safeway Inc. subsidiary Blackhawk Network integrated gift card malls into hundreds of Office Depot and Comercial Mexicana stores in Mexico. Retailers included in the gift card malls are Lo Mejor de Mexico, Experimenta, Bueno, todito Card, Saludo, Hablando Derecho, 10 en Tareas, Xbox Live, todito Cash and Paysafe card, Blackhawk said.
Money transfer specialist MoneyGram International said it will introduce a new cash-to-account money transfer service in the Philippines. The service, set to launch in late May 2011, will enable consumers to transfer money via MoneyGram locations and its website directly into the bank accounts of recipients in the Philippines.
Incentive and loyalty card provider Parago Inc. reported its Chief Financial Officer, Mae Reeves, was named a top corporate finance executive in Dallas-Fort Worth by the D Magazine 2011 Financial Executives Awards.
Gift card and customer loyalty program provider Smart Transaction Systems launched an interactive loyalty card that utilizes two-dimensional QR (quick response) barcode technology. Consumers scan QR codes printed on the backs of the cards into smart phones to access loyalty point totals, cash balances, transaction histories and promotional messaging from card issuing merchants, according to STS.
E-gift card provider Giftango Corp. partnered with Vesta Corp. to offer Giftango's merchant consumers the new indemnified payment services offered by Vesta which includes fulfillment of virtual cards, customer service, processor connectivity, payment processing and indemnification from fraudulent transactions. Giftango said Vesta's service eliminates merchants' fraud risk.
Higher One Inc., a subsidiary of technology and payment services company Higher One Holdings Inc., chose Green Dot Corp. to be its cash transfer partner. The relationship will enable Higher One OneAccount college student customers to transfer cash to other accounts via the Green Dot MoneyPak.
Prepaid card marketer, processor and distributor InComm made a pact with MoneyGram for the distribution and activation of the MoneyGram Xpress in-lane money transfer service. The service will be available at InComm's network of over 225,000 retail locations, including grocery and convenience stores, pharmacies, and mass merchandisers.
Oberthur Technologies said it reinforced its partnership with OTP Bank to provide MasterCard-branded Maestro "citizen cards" to the inhabitants of Pécs, the fifth largest city in Hungary. The open-loop, network-branded card is accepted by 150 million merchants worldwide, Oberthur reported.
Socialwise Inc., the parent company of BillMyParents, said James Collas resigned as chairman and Chief Executive Officer to devote himself full-time to the internal operations of the company. Mark Sandson, a director of the company, was named interim chairman and CEO and is leading the search for Socialwise's next CEO.
Cardtronics Inc. welcomed Parago President and CEO Juli Spottiswood to its board of directors. Spottiswood brings over a decade of experience in helping companies improve consumer engagement and relationship building effectiveness, Cardtronics said.
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