Perhaps the most innovative product at the expo was not a new electronic solution, but a decorative gift card container that combines creative design and utility. The patent-pending Gift Box created by bäks co. of Sandy, Utah, comes in different designs and colors, and complete with a bow. But the uniqueness of the box is that it hangs flat on J-hooks to minimize its retail footprint, and then is easily folded into a box to contain a gift card.
"It uses four origami hinges to allow it to pop up and go from a flat substrate to a sturdy gift box," said bäks President Michael S. Nebeker.
A customer places the gift card on the platform in the box, then closes the lid and affixes it with an adhesive strip. Voilá, ready for presentation. "People will respond to a box that is handmade with decorative paper, a ribbon and bow," Nebeker said. "Traditionally, the way that Americans give gifts is taking a box, wrapping it with gift paper, and tying it up with a ribbon and a bow."
Nebeker added that bäks can ship 350,000 Gift Boxes in a 40-foot container; it allows bäks to save on shipping and provide merchants with a space-saving product. He said bäks could work with ISOs to offer merchants bäks-branded or private-label boxes.
Discover Financial Services has a message for ISOs. As one of the four major card brands, Discover is looking to partner with ISOs rather than dictate to them, said Beth Horowitz, Senior Vice President at the company.
Recently, Discover partnered with acquirer Heartland Payment Systems Inc. and campus card program manager Blackboard Inc. for the Acceluraid campus card program. The card functions as a financial aid disbursement mechanism, as well as a campus ID card and an open-loop, general purpose reloadable card that can be used at approximately 9 million merchant locations that accept Discover.
Horowitz characterized the Discover brand as user friendly, from both card issuer and merchant network operator standpoints. "We have a unique relationship with merchants," she said. "And we have a unique perspective on how important merchants of all sizes are. So we can, and I believe have delivered lots of value through acquirers and ISOs."
Horowitz noted that Discover is engaged in such wide-open categories as parking and vending machine payments. "I want ISOs to know not only that [their merchants] should accept Discover, but if they're looking to do something a little unique, come talk to us," she said.
First Data Corp. has partnered with hundreds of ISOs to resell the acquirer's processing solutions. But Mark Putman, Senior Vice President of First Data's Prepaid Services, said ISOs are doing themselves a disservice by not pushing the acquirer's payroll card program, Fasttrak.
First Data operates the Money Network, over which paycard payments are processed for large corporations, like Wal-Mart Stores Inc., which has a sizable workforce of unbanked and underbanked employees. But Fasttrak is designed for smaller businesses. "It is sort of a bare bones, stripped-down system that ISOs certainly could sell," Putman said.
According to Putman, the types of businesses that can benefit from paycards are quick-service restaurants, casual dining establishments, light manufacturing companies and movie theaters. And it's not that such businesses employ minorities who are less likely to have bank accounts, but rather that their employees are simply young people with little or no savings, and who would rather receive their pay electronically rather than via an old-fashioned check, Putman said.
And with younger generations comfortable with paying, and receiving pay, on smart phones, the payroll card is a natural fit. "If you look at the sheer percentages of smart phones being sold right now, virtually every phone getting replaced today is a smart phone," Putman said. "So it goes hand in hand with a payroll card."
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