Visa Inc. introduced a prepaid mobile account focused on the financially underserved in developing countries. Visa's first partner for this new enterprise is MTN Group, a telecommunications provider in Africa and the Middle East that intends to offer the mobile prepaid "wallet" to mobile phone users in Nigeria and Uganda.
Visa reported that developing countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America will be among the first target markets for the card brand's new product. Visa counts its June 2011 acquisition of Fundamo, a mobile payment platform provider for developing countries, as adding mobile payment functionality to its global payment network, VisaNet.
Consumer advocacy groups, including Consumers Union and the National Consumer Law Center, penned a letter to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau requesting the newly formed agency mandate cardholder protections enjoyed by debit card users to be afforded prepaid cardholders as well.
The main request of the advocacy groups is that the CFPB clarify the definition of "account" as it relates to the consumer protection laws implemented by Regulation E in accordance with the mandate set forth in the Electronic Fund Transfer Act of 1978. Consumers Union et al want the definition of "account," which originally applied to credit and debit card accounts, to include pooled accounts into which prepaid cardholders deposit funds and from which they withdraw funds.
Effective Jan. 1, 2012, the Kansas state government said it will begin collecting fees on the purchase of prepaid wireless phones and phone cards as mandated by passage of the Prepaid Wireless 911 Fee Act during the state's 2011 legislative session. According to SB 50 of the Kansas Senate, the fees will be 53 cents per month per prepaid phone subscriber and 1.06 percent of the retail price on calling cards.
The funds are to be deposited into the 911 State Fund managed by the Kansas 911 Coordinating Committee and used to fund emergency dispatch centers across Kansas.
The American Express Co. launched the American Express for Target Card, an open-loop, general-purpose, reloadable (GPR) prepaid card available at over 1,000 Target Brands Inc. stores in the United States. The cards, which are loaded (and reloaded) at registers, come with no monthly or maintenance fees, AmEx said.
Arroweye Solutions reported it received approval to manufacture and personalize Discover Financial Services' prepaid cards. Arroweye digitally prints Visa and MasterCard Worldwide logos on-demand, as well as personalizes the cards for consumers. These services are now available for Discover-branded card products.
Digital gifting and incentives company CashStar Inc. will provide mall-based teenage apparel retailer Aéropostale and shopping network QVC Inc. with an online platform for virtual gift cards. The businesses expect to leverage CashStar's e-gift card platform to allow customers to personalize virtual cards and select the date the e-gift cards are delivered.
Mobile commerce platform provider Mocapay Inc. said it now allows merchants and consumers to purchase gift cards through customized websites and directly from consumers' mobile devices. The mobile gifting feature is available through Mocapay's mobile wallet application on Apple Inc. iPhones and devices that operate on Google Inc.'s Android operating system.
Los Angeles-based financial services company 24/7 Card unveiled the 24/7 Visa Prepaid Debit + Remit Card, a GPR card designed for Filipinos and other U.S. immigrant communities. The card is promoted by boxing champion and Philippine congressman Manny Pacquiao.
Ingenico S.A. subsidiary easycash Loyalty Solutions GmbH (ecLS) agreed to process open- and closed-loop prepaid card transactions for France-based customer relationship management provider LaSer Group. LaSer will issue cards and administer programs while Hamburg, Germany-based ecLS will provide back-end payment processing.
InteliSpend Prepaid Solutions LLC teamed with Discover Financial Services to launch private-label, Discover-branded prepaid cards in late November 2011. The MAX, Preferences and Universal cards round out InteliSpend's initiative to provide products co-branded by the four major card brands, the company said.
MoneyGram International expanded its services in India by signing an agent agreement with the State Bank of India, the nation's largest bank. SBI joined the agent network via MoneyGram's principal agent in India, Thomas Cook (India) Ltd. The services of the money transfer specialist will be available at 100 SBI branches by the end of 2011, MoneyGram said.
Prepaid card program manager The Tyburn Group Inc. teamed with nonprofit Operation Homefront to provide emergency financial aid and other assistance to families of U.S. service members and veterans via the MasterCard Worldwide-branded TrustCard. Military personnel and their families get payroll direct deposited onto the cards and can manage their money online or over mobile phones.
Young Money Entertainment, in collaboration with prepaid card program manager Accent Intermedia, rolled out the Young Money Prepaid Discover Card targeted at the unbanked and underbanked in the United States. Young Money Entertainment is the management company for rappers, including Lil Wayne.
Green Dot Corp. reported that the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System approved the prepaid card company's application to acquire Bonneville Bancorp of Provo, Utah. Green Dot's $15.7 million acquisition will reportedly allow the largest U.S. prepaid card company to issue its own GPR cards. Bonneville is expected to be renamed Green Dot Bank.
International law firm Locke Lord LLP welcomed Robert Courtneidge, recently named Best Contributor at the U.K.'s Prepaid Awards. Courtneidge, who co-founded the Prepaid International Forum and specializes in e-money legislation, brings over 20 years of experience in the cards and payments sector. He will work out of the firm's London office.
John J. Mack, former chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Morgan Stanley, joined the board of directors at mobile and prepaid card provider Rev Worldwide. The company said Mack is often credited with stabilizing Morgan Stanley during the 2008 financial crisis.
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