As part of its phase out of government paper check payments over the next two years, the U.S. Department of the Treasury is including veterans and railroad retirees in its move to electronic payments via direct deposit and Direct Express prepaid cards.
The prepaid cards are MasterCard Worldwide-branded, issued by Comerica Bank and processed by Xerox Corp. subsidiary Affiliated Computer Services Inc. The Treasury began contacting new beneficiaries May 1, 2011, and all beneficiaries are expected to be receiving benefits electronically by March 1, 2013.
The Federal Reserve Board issued a request for public comment on a proposed rule to create new consumer protections on cross-border money transfers. The rule would require that money transfer providers make disclosures to money transfer senders, including information about fees, the amounts of currency to be received by recipients and the currency exchange rates between the countries of senders and receivers, the fed said.
The proposal is being made under the requirements of Regulation E, a cardholder protection measure that is part of the Electronic Funds Transfer Act of 1978, pursuant to the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010. Public comments to the proposal can be submitted to the fed up to 60 days after the proposal was published in the Federal Register, which occurred on May 23, 2011.
To access the published proposal, go to www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-05-23/html/2011-12019.htm.
U.K.-based Advanced Payment Solutions, the program manager for the Cashplus Prepaid MasterCard, believes prepaid cards are superior to credit and debit cards in minimizing the risks of online fraud for consumers. Unlike credit and debit cards, prepaid cards limit cardholders' exposure to fraud because the only funds at risk are the funds loaded onto the cards, APS said.
In contrast, online shoppers who use credit and debit cards are potentially exposing credit limits and bank accounts to fraud, APS added.
BillMyParents, the Socialwise Inc. subsidiary and teen prepaid card company, provided an update on its national marketing campaign. The strategy has involved event programming on the ESPN and MTV television networks and touts the benefits of its Spend Smart prepaid card. BillMyParents' slogan is "It's Safe. It's Smart. It's Money." The brand's spokesman is professional skateboarder Rob Dyrdek.
Loyalty platform provider BillShrink added new functionality to its in-statement rewards service. The new features help consumers achieve greater savings, eliminate the need for customers to carry multiple loyalty and rewards cards, offer geolocation interactivity and integrate with social networks, BillShrink said.
Safeway Inc. subsidiary and gift card mall purveyor Blackhawk Network named the winners of the company's fifth annual Hawk Awards. Among the winners are Regal Entertainment Group (best card design), Marriott International Inc. (most innovative product or service), Starbucks Corp. (industry achievement), Berwick Offray LLC's Seastone brand (most innovative prepaid product) and i3 Plastic Cards (industry innovation).
Through its eGift Social application, First Data Corp. is giving away e-gift certificates in denominations of $10 and $50 for use at Dairy Queen, Sephora, Kmart, F.Y.E and Joe's Crab Shack. Additionally, one winner will receive a $200 Sears e-gift grand prize. The promotion runs through June 12, 2011.
The Global Prepaid Exchange announced that the 4th Annual Gift & Prepaid Retreat will be held June 15 and 16, 2011, at the Marriott Gateway on the Falls in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada. The event is focused on the gift and prepaid card markets in Canada and the United States. For more information, go to www.actcda.com/calendar.html.
White-label loyalty and stored-value card provider SparkBase won the Technology Innovation Award for Paycloud at the 2011 Electronic Transactions Association's Annual Meeting & Expo. Paycloud is a smart phone-enabled mobile wallet for loyalty and gift card programs that integrates with merchants' existing POS terminals.
Consumer bill payment portal provider ChargeSmart Inc. integrated its services with online gift card exchange Plastic Jungle to enable customers to use unredeemed gift cards to make utility, car and mortgage payments.
Atlanta-based prepaid card distributor InComm signed an agreement with Brazil-based processor Unik to offer retailers in Brazil a prepaid card management and promotion solution. The processor issued and processed over 3 million gift and rechargeable prepaid card transactions in 2010, Unik said.
NBC Universal-owned Telemundo and mun2 (a U.S.-based television network and division of Telemundo) teamed up with The Western Union Co. to offer Hispanic consumers in the United States two types of MasterCard Worldwide-branded, general purpose reloadable prepaid cards.
Valutec Card Solutions, the gift and loyalty subsidiary of Fidelity National Information Services Inc., teamed with SNAP Services LLC, which connects loyalty programs with social networking sites, to allow Valutec clients the ability to expand upon their current in-store loyalty programs by rewarding customers for making automated online recommendations on Facebook, Twitter and foursquare.
Network-branded prepaid card provider FSV Payment Systems Inc. hired Stephen T. Middlebrook to serve as its General Counsel. Middlebrook, who was Senior Counsel at the U.S. Department of the Treasury, will provide legal expertise on regulatory and legislative issues that affect stored-value, prepaid and debit cards; mobile payments; and Internet-based collections and disbursements.
Las Vegas-based prepaid card processor eCommLink Inc. promoted Oscar Mota from Senior Vice President of Operations to Chief Operations Officer. Mota is charged with leading eCommLink's software development division, as well as the company's planning, implementation and client delivery groups.
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