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The Green SheetGreen Sheet

The Green Sheet Online Edition

February 25, 2013 • Issue 13:02:02

Prepaid in brief

The Green Sheet, Inc. NEWS

Facebook enters gift card fray

Facebook launched a gift card scheme that leverages Discover Financial Services-branded prepaid cards that can hold balances for multiple retailers. The social media company said the Facebook Card service is being rolled out in select regions of the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, France and Germany, with the cards currently available for use at a mix of retailers that include grocery stores, convenience stores, discount retailers and a toy store chain.

Facebook said its users can purchase retailer-specific cards in the Gift Cards & Digital category on its website. Facebook Cards are then physically mailed to recipients, who are also Facebook users. The next time a Facebook user gives another "gift card" to that recipient, the gift amount is added to the Facebook Card already in the recipient's possession. Additionally, the cards can hold balances from different retailers.

Urban Trust drops prepaid overdraft protection

On Feb. 1, 2013, prepaid card issuer Urban Trust Bank officially discontinued the overdraft protection feature on its Visa Inc.-branded prepaid cards. Orlando, Fla.-based UTB said elimination of the feature helps the bank streamline card offerings and better serve the needs of its customers.

Federal bank regulator Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) might have a different explanation. In September 2012, the OCC ruled that UTB and payday lender CheckSmart Inc. evaded payday and usury laws in Arizona and Ohio by loading payday loans on prepaid cards. The OCC said CheckSmart disguised payday loans as either lines of credit or overdraft protection offered via prepaid cards.

The OCC stated that CheckSmart's payday loan program, facilitated with UTB-issued Insight prepaid cards and managed by Insight Card Services LLC, which is partly owned by Dublin, Ohio-based Community Choice Financial Inc., offered payday loans "cloaked as overdraft fees of $0.15 per $1 negative balance (or $15 per $100 borrowed)."

Popularity of prepaid electricity growing in U.S.

A survey conducted by DEFG LLC, a management consulting firm specializing in the energy sector, said interest in prepaid electricity is especially strong among younger adults, renters and men in general. DEFG noted 38 percent of 1,000 consumers surveyed in late 2012 by the company's Prepay Energy Working Group were interested in the technology. The respondents said the top reasons for choosing prepaid electricity service were to:

  • Reduce energy consumption and more closely monitor usage (30 percent)
  • Increase control over energy costs and budgets (28 percent)
  • Pay for energy as it is used (24 percent)
  • Eliminate "surprises" (23 percent)

The Green Sheet, Inc. ANNOUNCEMENTS

CardSmith upgrades law school's card program

Campus card provider CardSmith installed the Coastal Card program for the Florida Coastal School of Law in Jacksonville, Fla. The law school said its new campus ID and prepaid card solution represents a "significant upgrade in service and convenience for our students, parents, campus service providers and other stakeholders, and makes our campus operations more efficient."

Record 2012 holiday season for CashStar

Virtual gift card network operator CashStar Inc. reported an 800 percent increase in the number of mobile e-gift cards purchased during the 2012 holiday season, compared with the same period in 2011. CashStar said companies with mobile-optimized e-gift card websites saw 55 percent more purchases from smart phones in the 2012 holiday season than brands without such services.

Lufthansa eXperts get Citi prepaid

Lufthansa German Airlines' travel agency loyalty program, eXperts, switched from a voucher to a prepaid incentive card service. The program, managed by Citibank NA's Citi Prepaid Services (a division of Citi Transaction Services), will be rolled out to travel agents enrolled in the eXperts program in Hong Kong, Singapore and Australia. Plans to extend the program to Malaysia and the Philippines are in the works.

edō opens marketplace

Teen reward card provider edō Inc. launched edō Marketplace that allows small businesses to target new customers and increase loyalty with instantly redeemable offers tailored to customers' shopping habits.

Green Dot revenues up 13 percent

For the fourth quarter of 2012, Green Dot Corp. reported a 13 percent year-over-year revenue increase. Green Dot Chief Financial Officer John Keatley said the company's performance remains strong despite a "great deal of uncertainty in our business going into 2013 as we expect continued headwinds from enhanced risk controls and competition to play out through much of the year before we can expect stabilization."

MyPlash unveils card customization feature

Plastic Cash International subsidiary MyPlash debuted a new custom card design option for cardholders of the MyPlash Prepaid MasterCard. Users can upload images and edit designs online.

PIF founds Middle East chapter

The Prepaid International Forum is expanding its international presence with the launch of a regional chapter in the Middle East. PIF's partner, Total System Services Inc., is coordinating with the PIF's central body to found the chapter and schedule an inaugural meeting in February 2013.

Swissclear Global offers new airtime recharge service

Singapore-based prepaid service provider Swissclear Global Pte Ltd. launched a prepaid phone airtime recharge offering. Seventy to 90 percent of mobile subscriptions in emerging markets are prepaid, the company said.

Western Union expands in Central America

Money transfer specialist The Western Union Co. extended its MasterCard Worldwide-branded prepaid card program to Western Union agent locations in Costa Rica and Guatemala. The company cited World Bank statistics that Guatemalans received $4.5 billion in remittances in 2012, compared with Costa Ricans who received over $585 million in remittances last year.

The Green Sheet, Inc. PARTNERSHIPS

Canada to get new tax refund service

A tri-partnership between MasterCard Canada, tax preparer H&R Block Canada and DirectCash Bank of Alberta, Canada, will result in the H&R Block Advantage Prepaid MasterCard. The companies said benefits of the card include text message balance notifications and minimal fees.

Companies deal for mutual expansion

U.K.-based Prepaid Financial Services Ltd. teamed with Frankfurt, Germany-based cash management service provider Deutsche Card Services GmBH to develop and deliver prepaid card solutions across Europe. The companies said the focus of the partnership will be on markets where prepaid card services are underdeveloped, such as Germany.

New team tackles tax refunds

Western Union partnered with tax preparation specialist Advent Financial to offer tax refunds on the Get It Prepaid MasterCard at over 5,000 tax preparer locations in more than 45 states. In addition to the loading of tax refunds on the cards, cardholders can also reload the cards at Western Union agent locations in the United States.

The Green Sheet, Inc. APPOINTMENTS

Coinstar adds to board

Coin-to-card company Coinstar Inc. appointed Nora M. Denzel to its board of directors. Denzel brings over 25 years of business experience to Coinstar's board. Most recently, Denzel was Senior Vice President of Big Data, Marketing and Social at Intuit Inc.

paysafecard group hires Falb

Gerhard Falb was named Chief Marketing Officer at paysafecard group. Falb formerly worked as an independent project manager for a number of clients, including paysafecard.

Payza names new VP

Online payroll facilitator Payza promoted Mohammad Hashemi to the position of Vice President of Strategy. Hashemi, previously Director of Product Strategy at Payza, will spearhead the U.K.-based firm's partner acquisition efforts.

Hutson retires from InteliSpend

Darryl Hutson retired as Chief Executive Officer at InteliSpend Prepaid Solutions LLC. Jim Menadier, President of InteliSpend, assumed day-to-day operations for the company. Hutson had been InteliSpend's CEO since the company's inception in 1997. end of article

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