Banks Ignore the Unbanked Prepaid Market

A new study has found that prepaid cards for the unbanked has been conspicuously absent among general purpose reloadable cards. NY-based Celent notes that payment network-branded prepaid cards are set to go big in areas such as healthcare, government benefits, and incentive card programs with an unbanked 36 million people and an aggregate income of $260 billion. Extrapolating out the current average load amounts on these cards, there is a $31 billion market to be captured. Should average load amounts rise as this population shifts from the early adoption stage to mainstream acceptance, the market size will be even more immense, with the potential for card spending at $192 billion. Celent says banks have left the door wide open for nontraditional and nonbank competitors to freely pursue this massive market. Rushing into this void are Wal-Mart and Home Depot, which harbor dreams of becoming banks, Capital One charging into the banking space, and H&R Block, which just recently actually acquired a bank license.

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XMAS CASH VOLUME

Brits have been hitting ATMs heavily this holiday season as cash withdrawals are running about 7% higher than one-year ago. Through December 10th more than GBP 3.2 billion in cash has been withdrawn from LINK cash machines during December, an increase of GBP 140 million compared with the same period in 2006. LINK Data for December show that cash withdrawals since Friday, December 7th have been particularly high, suggesting that mortgage holders may have been encouraged to spend more freely following the recent rate cut. On December 6th the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee voted to reduce the official “Bank Rate” paid on commercial bank reserves by 0.25 percentage points to 5.5%. LINK also noted that ATM cash withdrawals in previous years grew about 5.00% to 5.50% per year, however this year there was a significant jump. LINK data covers cash withdrawals from more than 64,000 cash machines in the UK.

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Aveso Lands a Former Gemalto Executive

Minneapolis-based Aveso has hired Dino Ferrari, previously VP of the secure transactions business unit at Gemalto, as VP of business development. Ferrari will be responsible for developing relationships with end customers of electronic display cards featuring Aveso’s flexible display technology. Ferrari brings to Aveso over 25 years of industry experience in the payment card industry. At Gemalto, he oversaw business development and sales for conventional, contactless and contact smart cards for the company’s Financial Services business unit in North America. Prior to Gemalto, Ferrari held sales, marketing, business development and technical management positions with Atlantic Zeiser and Gilles Leroux US, as well as DataCard, the leading global manufacturer of card personalization, embedding equipment and software services. Aveso is a provider of flexible display components suitable for high-volume, cost-sensitive, mass-consumer applications.

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VOLARIS & UATP

Volaris Airlines will now be a UATP merchant, accepting the
organization’s
cards for payment through UATP Settlement Services (USS). USS reconciles
payment transactions with a low-cost system on a weekly cycle for its
merchants. Regarding the airline’s punctuality, Volaris has take off and
landing
indexes of 95% and with this development as a company, is reflecting
expansion
for market share in corporate travel. Furthermore, the airline offers
air travel
to over 16 destinations while UATP cards are accepted for payment around
the world and are issued by many different airlines.

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Fair Isaac Rules the Business Rules Market

Fair Isaac Corporation has been recognized by analyst firm IDC as the worldwide revenue leader in the Business Rules Management Systems (BRMS) software market for the second consecutive year. The new IDC report “Worldwide Business Rules Management Systems 2007-2011 Forecast and 2006 Vendor Shares” ranks Fair Isaac as the worldwide BRMS market leader in 2006 with revenues of $53.5 million, compared with revenues of $45.1 million in 2005. IDC credits Fair Isaac’s 18.7 percent growth and 23.6 percent market share to the company’s continuing success with its “Blaze Advisor” business rules management system in the North American market. Fair Isaac’s revenue in North America was $45.1 million, compared to $24.4 million for the closest competitor.

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FUNDSTECH PLATFORM

FundsTech has launched its prepaid platform in South Africa
which is currently in the process of receiving certification. With
this new platform, FundsTech will be issuing prepaid cards throughout
various African countries and following the completion of its
platform certification, intends to deploy 1.5 million cards. FundsTech
financial services provides prepaid debit cards to the over 1 billion people around the world.

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Comdata SVS Debuts American Idol Gift Cards

San Diego-based IdeaEdge and Comdata’s Stored Value Solutions have teamed to launched the first “American Idol” gift cards. The new gift cards provides access to music from past “American Idol” contestants and can be used to purchase Karaoke CDs of songs sung on the show by favorite “Idols,” exclusive “American Idol” apparel and accessories, a “Playstation 2” video game, and even an “American Idol”-ized monopoly game. Cards can be purchased in $25 or $50 denominations online or at select retail stores nationwide. In addition to exclusive “Idol” merchandise, each time a user redeems an “American Idol” gift card, the user will automatically be entered into a sweepstakes to win a grand prize trip for four to Los Angeles to attend the season seven “American Idol Finale” in 2008. The card is available 10,000 retail locations nationwide. There are an estimated 40 million “American Idol” fans in the USA.

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WINCOR NIXDORF & APCA

Wincor Nixdorf ATM vendor has achieved certification under the
Australian “Series 2 CECS” (Consumer Electronic Clearing System)
Manual, allowing the company to install its ATMs in IT networks throughout
the country. The certification is regulated and enforced by the Australian
Payments Clearings Association (APCA) to ensure customer security at
card terminals, including ATMs and POS. This development is a reflection
of Wincor’s efforts to customize its customer products and solutions to
local markets, such as meeting Australia’s PIN security requirements.

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EM MICROELECTRONICS & NFC FORUM

EM Microelectronics integrated circuit developer has joined the Near
Field Communication (NFC) Forum to contribute initiatives in technology
products and services. Joining the forum, EM is now among existing
member companies from the mobile communications, consumer electronics,
computing and media sectors. The forum implements its solutions and
collective opinions through working groups that promote NFC adaption
and interoperability testing for contactless payment expansion. EM
Microelectronics produces low-power circuits for battery, battery-less
operating devices and RFID products in the smart card market. The
organization also produces LCD modules and offers bumping services
while the NFC Forum,a non-profit industry association is focused on advancing
the use of NFC technology by developing specifications and interoperability
with the contribution of over 130 global member companies.

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FNBO Direct Introduces Pay Yourself First

Internet bank FNBO Direct has announced the new “Direct ExtraEarnings VISA Card” credit cards linked to its “Online Line Savings Account and issued a “Pay Yourself First” challenge to consumers. The FNBO “Direct ExtraEarnings VISA Card” rewards consumers for everyday purchases by giving them 2% cash back for every dollar spent for the first 12 billing cycles after an account is opened. Consumers can redeem their cash back by requesting a $25 deposit into their FNBO Direct account for every $1,250 in purchases during those first 12 billing cycles. After that, rewards are redeemable in $25 increments for every $2,500 in purchases. These cash back rewards are directly deposited into consumers’ high-yielding FNBO Direct Online Savings Accounts, which currently offers consumers a 5.05% APY1 with no fees or minimum balances required.

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ID THEFT

Capital One has released the results of its latest annual identity theft
survey
providing insight on how Canadian consumers habitually protect themselves
from identity theft. Among these habits, the Capital One survey has
revealed
that 65% of consumers do not regularly review their own credit reports,
52% believe all credit bureaus share all information and 33% felt that
alerting
the police is not necessary in the event of identity theft.
Subsequently, the
bank is recommending several measures be taken to protect themselves.
Among these recommendations, Capital One suggests not leaving the
signature box on the back of their cards blank, secure account numbers,
secure PIN numbers, keep all receipts, purchase retail goods from only
secure websites and maintaining paper account statements for future
reference.
If a consumer does find that they have already become a victim of ID
theft,
the bank encourages the consumer to contact all credit bureaus to receive a
fraud alert, file a police report and to cancel any card for which a
criminal
may have information. Capital One has provided consumers with Mastercard
products since 1996.

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