Next Step Network LLC unveiled a general propose reloadable (GPR) prepaid card that allows caretakers to manage the purchasing behavior of recovering addicts. The MasterCard Worldwide-branded Next Step Card restricts users from feeding addictions at such locations as bars, liquor stores, gambling establishments and massage parlors. Additionally, the card cannot be used to withdraw cash at ATMs or to receive cash back at the POS.
Individuals who support addicts in recovery enroll online and become primary cardholders. They manage the accounts and set card usage parameters, such as daily and monthly spending limits, on companion cards provided the recovering addicts. As a security feature to deter companion cardholders from selling or trading the cards, primary cardholders upload photographs of companion cardholders online.
The Next Step Card is issued by First California Bank and is being marketed to addiction recovery facilities. Fees on the GPR card include:
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office granted a patent to mobile phone billing technology firm IDI Billing Solutions for its prepaid mobile payment solution, AdvancePay. IDI characterized AdvancePay as a hybrid service that melds the most desirable aspects of prepaid and postpaid (credit-based) mobile communications platforms.
"This pay-in-advance offering helps mobile operators secure greater flexibility in providing service to a wider market than traditional post-paid – without the high costs associated with comprehensive prepaid platforms," IDI said.
The AdvancePay payment model is based on time rather than consumption. When mobile prepaid phone users reload phones at the POS, they pay for service over a period of time instead of for a number of minutes.
A pilot program conducted by coin-to-card kiosk operator Coinstar Inc. is underway to test the effectiveness of a gift-card-to-cash kiosk implementation. Coinstar's Alula kiosks in Chicago, Phoenix and Columbus, Ohio, grocery stores accept gift cards and dispense vouchers that can be redeemed for cash at checkout, according to a Coinstar spokeswoman. Cardholders reportedly receive 65 to 85 percent of the value from gift cards in the pilot.
In mid-December 2012, an Alula blog post said that the self-service kiosks were not able to accept "odd-shaped gift cards," such as the JCPenney gift card. The Coinstar spokeswoman said the company is in discussions on how to address the problem.
Big data provider ARM Insight Inc. unveiled its Prepaid Management Platform (PMP), which transforms payment data stored in legacy processing systems into actionable information for program managers and issuers. PMP's functions include a reporting dashboard, automated suspicious activity monitoring, program profitability analysis and chargeback management.
Tupelo, Miss.-based BancorpSouth Inc. launched the BancorpSouth Prepaid Card program, designed to serve as an alternative to traditional checking accounts. The MasterCard-branded and TransCard-managed GPR card is designed as a low-cost, alternative financial product for travelers, students and online shoppers.
Cornelius, N.C.-headquartered philanthropic organization Gift Cards for a Cause allows a portion of revenue from gift cards purchased through the charity to be directed to other charities. A percentage of purchases from Gift Cards for a Cause goes to support education, children, animal rights, homeless advocacy, the environment and heath-related causes.
Prepaid telecom provider Krush Communications LLC sued its competitor Lunex Telecom Inc., alleging patent infringement, among other violations. The lawsuit claims that Lunex infringed on Krush's patented web portal distribution system that delivers mobile text message receipts that confirm the purchase of prepaid minutes, as well as provides local access numbers, enabling customers to initiate PIN-less domestic and international long distance calling directly from mobile devices.
GPS tracking specialist LiveViewGPS Inc. rolled out what it described as the world's first prepaid card that allows users to track smart phones. Consumers purchase the Mobile Phone Locate Card online or in-store and register devices for the location service that utilizes GPS tracking technology embedded in smart devices. The service can be used by businesses to track mobile workforces.
New research offered by Market Research Reports on the payments market in Chile said that the prepaid card category is dominated by closed-loop prepaid cards issued by nonbank issuers. The report noted that conventional banks in Chile operate for only five hours per day, between 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Monday through Friday.
A Mercator Advisory Group report stated that the prepaid buyer demographic is skewing away from younger consumers and toward people aged 35 to 64 years old. Over half of the consumers in those older demographic groups bought prepaid cards in 2012, especially retailer-specific gift cards (38 percent) and prepaid cards for online services, such as digital downloads and role playing games (18 percent), according to Consumers and Prepaid 2012: More Tools, Please.
The teen-centered MyPlash card, a collaboration between Plastic Cash International LLC and MasterCard, became the title sponsor for the 2013 MyPlash Metal Mulisha Yamaha Racing Team. The supercross and motocross racing team will participate in MyPlash events throughout the racing season.
NetSpend Holdings Inc. became the exclusive program manager and processor for the Brink's Co.'s branded payroll card, Brink's Money. The initial rollout of Brink's Money is scheduled for the first quarter of 2013.
SelectCore Ltd. said 2012 was a pivotal year for the Canadian prepaid card processor. The company achieved several milestones in 2012, including the launch of the City Services Benefits Card for the city of Toronto, the completion of $5.7 million in equity investment, and the reduction in its long-term debt from $5 million to $3 million.
The U.S. Department of the Treasury urged Social Security and other federal benefit recipients to switch to either direct deposit or the Direct Express Debit MasterCard by the March 1, 2013, deadline for recipients to sign up for one method of electronic benefit disbursement. The Treasury Department said approximately 93 percent of Social Security and Supplemental Security Income payments are already made electronically, but 5 million checks continue to be mailed to federal beneficiaries monthly. Converting the remaining paper check recipients to electronic payments is expected to save U.S. taxpayers $1 billion over the next 10 years.
Toronto-based gift and loyalty program operator Givex Corp. integrated with the Facebook-based social gifting solution Wrapp. The partnership opens up Givex's network of retail customers to Wrapp's friend-to-friend marketing platform. Users of Wrapp's mobile app can buy and give people in their social circles digital gift cards from Givex's brand retailers.
E-commerce gateway provider Payelp Global partnered with Qiwi to launch a virtual, Visa-branded prepaid card in the combined marketplace of Russia and the surrounding states that used to be part of the Soviet Union, called the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).
The Qiwi Virtual Visa will be offered by Payelp merchants to customers without access to credit cards. Users can add funds to the Qiwi Virtual Visa online, via mobile phones, or through Qiwi's 110,000 self-service kiosks, located in 16 countries worldwide, including Russia and CIS countries, which include Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.
Prepaid card distributor InComm purchased digital gifting network operator Giftango Corp. InComm said the purchase expands InComm's reach into e-commerce gift card sales and distribution via high-volume channels. The acquisition also adds business-to-business, e-commerce and promotional applications to InComm's portfolio.
Austin, Texas-based mobile payment firm Mozido LLC acquired U.S. check cashing network provider PagoVision. With the acquisition, Mozido achieves PagoVision's merchant network of over 1,500 independent retailers that serve U.S. underbanked and unbanked consumers, including immigrant populations. Mitch Dillard, co-founder of PagoVision, will continue to lead operation of the new Mozido subsidiary.
Mercator named Jeffrey Green to the position of Director of Emerging Technologies Service. Green was formerly Editorial Director of the Payments Group for SourceMedia, where he managed payments groups and coordinated payments coverage for multiple publications, including American Banker. In his new role, Green will focus on the emerging technologies space, including customer-facing technologies and core platforms, online and person-to-person payments, and bill and contactless payments.
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