The Federal Communications Commission issued a public notice to caution consumers that some prepaid calling card companies are not providing the calling minutes advertised. Despite taking aggressive action against such companies and fining them a total of $25 million in the last nine months, "some carriers appear to be continuing these misleading practices," the FCC said. FCC investigations found companies charged undisclosed fees that reduced the number of calling minutes available to consumers to only a fraction of what was advertised.
At the annual Prepaid 2012 conference to be held mid-June in London, a new innovators' showcase called the Prepaid Dragons' Den will allow companies to pitch prepaid card products and programs to judges and event participants. Conference organizer Clarion Events Ltd. said three to four companies will be chosen to pitch solutions to European program managers, retailers, transport operators, local government authorities, banks, mobile network operators, corporations and gambling operators.
Toronto-based virtual travel card provider UseMyServices Inc. said it had been chosen for the showcase. Prepaid 2012 will take place June 12 through 14 at the Park Plaza Victoria hotel in London.
The latest U.S. bank to enter the network-branded, general-purpose reloadable (GPR) prepaid card market also happens to be the largest. JPMorgan Chase & Co. reported it is piloting the Chase Liquid prepaid card in about 200 bank branches, with a goal of launching nationally this summer.
Analysts said JPMorgan took this action in response to the Durbin Amendment to the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010, which reduced by roughly half the amount of debit card interchange that the card brands and their networks of banks could charge merchants for accepting electronic debit card payments. Lower debit card fees have forced banks to find alternative sources of revenue, with prepaid card products chief among the alternatives, analysts said.
Prepaid card distributor and Safeway Inc. subsidiary Blackhawk Network reported the following winners of the sixth annual Hawk Awards: J.C. Penney Co. Inc.'s jcpenney and Sephora store chains, Apple Inc.'s iTunes, The Kroger Co.'s Kroger C-Quad Fuel, Safeway, Lowe's Companies Inc., BI-LO LLC, American Banknote Corp.'s ABnote North America and Gift Card Impressions. The Hawk Awards recognize achievement in the prepaid card industry.
Venture capital fund Core Innovation Capital named the four finalists for the second annual Core Underbanked Innovators Challenge: Santander Consumer USA Inc., Juntos Finanzas, Sociogramics Inc. and TIO Networks Corp. Core will award the company with the best new product or service innovation at the Center for Financial Services Innovation's 7th Annual Underbanked Financial Services Forum to be held June 15, 2012, in San Francisco.
Nashville, Tenn.-based social network services provider edō Interactive is beta testing Geocommerce Offers, a card-linked service that uses purchase location data to deliver targeted, real-time offers via mobile devices tailored to consumers' shopping activity and physical location. The service is set to go live in July 2012.
British Columbia, Canada-based VendTek Systems Inc., the parent company of Now Prepay, redesigned its website to make it more functional and user friendly. The new website can be found at www.vendteksystems.com .
India-based payment processor Yalamanchili extended its prepaid card processing services to European financial institutions. The processor said legacy processing systems in Europe are hindering the growth of the prepaid card market across the continent.
American Express Co. and social game developer Zynga Inc. introduced Zynga Serve Rewards, a new program tied to AmEx's Serve digital wallet. Players of Zynga's FarmVille social game on Facebook can "plant" Serve Money Trees on their virtual farms and earn Zynga Farm Cash for virtual awards redemption, the partners said.
Mobile payment technology provider C-SAM Inc. and MasterCard Worldwide collaborated on a prepaid mobile wallet solution for the Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa regions. The venture integrates C-SAM's Mobile Transaction Platform with MasterCard's prepaid processing platform and its PayPass Wallet Services.
Global Payout Inc., a gateway provider for multinational companies, and payment technology firm Boundless Payment Solutions Inc. inked a deal to launch a MasterCard-branded prepaid card that can be issued internationally. Both companies have corporate offices in San Diego.
Iceland-based merchant acquirer Valitor joined with U.K.-based prepaid card issuer and program manager White Eagle (Europe) PLC to enter the U.K. prepaid market. The agreement is part of Valitor's initiative to diversify its portfolio.
Littleton, Colo.-based prepaid card producer CPI Card Group purchased the operating assets of U.K.-based card producer ID Data Cards Ltd. CPI said the purchase strengthens the company's card production, personalization and fulfillment capabilities worldwide, as well as expands CPI's reach internationally.
Miriam De Dios was promoted from Vice President to CEO of Affiliates Management Co. subsidiary and prepaid program manager Coopera. De Dios, a native of Jalisco, Mexico, will lead the implementation of Coopera's mission to provide the Visa-branded Coopera Card to Hispanic communities via credit unions.
Neopay Ltd., a U.K.-based compliance specialist for the prepaid card industry, promoted Julian Griffiths to Chief Operating Officer. Griffiths joined Neopay in January 2010 from the U.K. regulator Financial Services Authority. Neopay said Griffiths has been instrumental in the delivery of Neopay's authorization and auditing services. Griffiths brings over 20 years of experience in the financial services industry to his new role and is expected to help continue Neopay's expansion. The company recorded 300 percent growth in 2011.
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