The movement to repeal New Jersey's controversial unused gift card fund collection policy took another twist when a bill that extends the deadline for compliance with the ZIP code collection mandate passed both houses of the New Jersey legislature. S1928 passed the Senate on June 21, 2012; the same bill in the Assembly – A3045 – passed on June 25. The legislation now awaits New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to sign it into law.
The legislation originally repealed the collection mandate by removing stored-value (gift) cards from the ranks of escheatable property the state could seize after a dormancy period had elapsed. But now the legislation simply pushes the deadline for implementation of the mandate back 49 months. "[S1928] was originally the repeal bill," said John Holub, President of the New Jersey Retail Merchants Association. "And it's been turned on its head."
Holub said the NJRMA cannot support legislation that mandates merchants collect the ZIP codes of gift card purchasers, even if that mandate is pushed back four years and one month. "We don't foresee anything that would change our opinion on the difficulties of retailers having to comply [with the mandate] and the negative impact it would have on consumers," he stated. "My fear is we're going to have déjà vu all over again. And we're going to be back in the exact same spot we are today."
A new mobile proximity payments pilot leveraging First Data Corp.'s Universal Commerce payment gateway will take place this summer at approximately 50 Burger King Corp. quick service restaurants in Salt Lake City. At the center of the pilot is the BK Mobile Crown Card, a mobile prepaid account that will allow customers to pay for BK purchases by using smart phones to scan quick response (QR) codes on restaurant counters and drive-up windows.
Mobile commerce platform operator Firethorn Mobile Inc., a subsidiary of wireless technology firm Qualcomm Inc., is partnering with First Data for the pilot. Elizabeth Grice, Director of Communications at First Data, said account provisioning and reloading will take place via First Data's Universal Commerce gateway, while the actual POS payments will be processed over First Data's ValueLink prepaid platform. First Data is Burger King's debit and credit card payment processor as well.
A survey of Canadian companies found that the adoption of corporate employee incentive programs has accelerated over the last two years, with prepaid cards being cited as the most popular incentive tool by employees and employers. The 2012 Canadian Incentive Trends Survey, conducted by Toronto-based prepaid incentive card program manager Berkeley Payment Solutions, said organizations have implemented incentive programs at a 46 percent increase since 2010, and a 21 percent increase since 2011.
Of the 767 Canadian companies polled, 32 percent said closed-loop, retailer-specific gift cards were the most cost effective tools; followed by merchandise (30 percent); prepaid Visa Inc., MasterCard Worldwide or American Express Corp. incentive cards (26 percent); incentive travel (4 percent); and "experiential events" (3 percent).
Prepaid card users span virtually every age and income demographic, according to an Auriemma Consulting Group report. ACG's The Payments Report said 54 percent of consumers have purchased prepaid cards, with 79 percent of those consumers having purchased cards at brick-and-mortar retail stores.
Atlanta-based maritime payroll card provider Brightwell Payments Inc. added Europay/MasterCard/Visa (EMV) functionality to its OceanPay payroll card. Brightwell said adding EMV allows Brightwell to expand its program reach in Europe.
At the 7th Annual Underbanked Financial Services Forum in San Francisco, Juntos Finanzas won Core Innovation Capital's Core challenge. Core said Juntos Finanzas, which provides mobile personal finance tools for the unbanked, was voted the company "most likely to enable underserved Americans to gain better access to a financial product needed to help them reach financial prosperity."
Frank Monaco, Vice President of International at prepaid card distributor InComm, was recognized as Industry Contributor at Prepaid Awards Canada. Monaco won the award for fostering the growth and development of the global prepaid card industry. The awards ceremony took place June 7, 2012, at the Liberty Grand Entertainment Complex in Toronto.
Vienna, Austria-headquartered paysafecard group launched its prepaid online payment services in Turkey. The company said Turkish consumers are aware of paysafecard, but the country is lacking in alternative payment solutions online.
At the sixth annual Mobile Banking & Commerce Summit in San Francisco, Plastyc Inc. Chief Executive Officer Patrice Peyret said the ability for smart phone users to remotely deposit physical checks is a "vital" service for unbanked and underbanked consumers. Mobile remote deposit capture will "plug the last remaining functional gap between prepaid card accounts and checking accounts," Peyret said.
Prepaid card provider AccountNow Inc. tapped payment processor Fiserv Inc. for prepaid card production services, including card manufacturing, card personalization and collateral material procurement. Fiserv said AccountNow will be able to track card production, shipments and inventory in real-time.
Gift and loyalty card processor Global eTelecom Inc. (GETI) joined with ISO BluePay Processing LLC to supply guest concession gift cards and volunteer meal cards for the Travelers Championship Golf Tournament in Cromwell, Conn. The tournament took place at the TPC River Highlands golf course June 21 to 24, 2012.
Gift card and loyalty program integrator Tango Card Inc. and travel and expense management company Concur Technologies Inc. created a gift card purchase and expense management solution for corporations. The solution is designed to correctly capture who gave what to whom and manage related expenses.
Check guarantee provider Chexar Networks Inc. signed a letter of intent to acquire its partner, remote deposit capture company Clear Payments Inc. The deal was scheduled to close by the end of June 2012. Chexar uses CPI for check imaging technologies, funds settlement and mobile technology.
The Network Branded Prepaid Card Association elected its board of directors and association officers for the 2012 – 2013 membership year at the association's inaugural Annual Congress - The Power of Prepaid, held June 3 to 6, 2012, in Washington. The list can be accessed at www.nbpca.org/~/media/D2DB992C3A594B36AC0BC9941F033A87.ashx.
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