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The Green Sheet Online Edition

July 23, 2012 • Issue 12:07:02

Rev takes off where Square left off

sellingprepaidPrepaid card program manager Rev Worldwide entered the micro-merchant mobile payments arena with the launch of RevCOIN, a mobile app and dongle combination to rival Square Inc. But what sets RevCOIN apart from Square is that Rev is targeting merchants with minimal or no access to bank accounts.

"Square's doing a great job," said David Clifton, Senior Vice President of Global Merchant Services at Rev. "They've made a lot of progress and covered a lot of ground. But it's a fairly one dimensional offering."

In contrast, RevCOIN is a feature-rich, "business-in-a-box" solution, Clifton said. RevCOIN offers a free downloadable app available on Apple Inc.'s App Store and Google Inc.'s Android Marketplace, a merchant account linked to a prepaid debit card and a card reader/dongle that attaches to smart phones. Clifton noted the RevCOIN dongle has the same functionality of Square's device but is designed better.

Additionally, RevCOIN provides back-end reporting for merchants via an online merchant account center where transaction histories can be reviewed – both funds received from merchant customers as well as transactions conducted by merchants using the cards. Clifton said Rev is going to add a merchant marketplace to the service that will allow RevCOIN merchants to communicate with each other, as well as with their customers.

The transaction fee for RevCOIN merchants is 2.55 percent per transaction, while Square charges 2.75 percent per swipe.

Filling the gap

sellingprepaidClifton said Rev didn't develop RevCOIN just because Square hadn't pursued the unbanked and underbanked merchant market – a market that seems designed for Square. But Rev did recognize that a service gap existed for those customers, which Clifton believes Rev is ideally equipped to fill.

Rev specializes in servicing unbanked and underbanked consumers with prepaid card programs in 12 countries, including India, Australia, Brazil and Mexico. RevCOIN is being rolled out in the U.S. market and will eventually be introduced into Rev's other markets.

"We think the U.S. is a great market," Clifton said. "And it's a market you sort of need to be in. … But the real opportunities, at least the exponential opportunities, really are international. And that's where the real exciting part is."

Clifton has good reason to be excited, as attested to by a Total System Services Inc. (TSYS) whitepaper. In the second part of a two-part report entitled Incredible India!, TSYS Managing Director Amit Sethi wrote that mobile payments are set to surge in India, especially among its rural communities, where mobile phones are popular.

"[D]ue to the ubiquitous nature of mobile phones in India's rural environment, mobile payments could advance and gain deeper market penetration than traditional card-based payments in India's 600,000 villages, of which approximately 550,000 have no access to banking, credit or Internet services," Sethi said.

Sethi added that awareness is high in rural India of the value of prepaid products linked to mobile applications, which "indicates a high likelihood that rural Indian consumers will accept mobile phones as their e-wallet for money transfers or other types of electronic payment transactions."

Knowing its users

Clifton said products like RevCOIN "democratize financial access, financial stability and financial services to a group of people who have massive potential." He realizes that better services for financially underserved people may mean they become banked, an eventuality Rev is planning for, as RevCOIN merchants will soon be able to transfer funds from their prepaid cards to bank accounts. "It's not just the magic of letting them take credit cards, but also giving them financial stability, financial access through this platform," he said.

And yet Clifton also recognizes that financial inclusion in traditional banking may not be the goal of many of Rev's customers. "We call them underbanked or underserved," he said. "They could just be smart." end of article

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