Friday, December 5, 2008

BioPay Launches Prepaid Debit Card Program

Back  in April 2006 I put forth a proposal suggesting that Pay By Touch's Paycheck Secure launch a reloadable prepaid card that could be funded by the amount a payroll check was cashed for.

I specifically targeted the "underbanked" which is vastly of Hispanic origin, thus I even suggested calling the product "BonifiCard"  from "Bonificar" which translates as follows:

Spanish to English

Bonficar - take into account, credit
Bonificar - refund,
discount reimburse
Bonificar - to give a bonus to
Bonificar - ameliorate, receive a premium, to improve,
Bonificar - act of goodness, reclamation, to make better, bonafide

It would be an "open loop" card and at the tiime, PBT had a strategic partnership with Discover, so I suggested partnering with them. "Discover the Prepaid Touch"   No word in the Press Release on whom they've partnered with in order to use it at "millions of locations" but I'm sure that will be available shortly.  I even suggested  tying in a "prepaid rewards" program which enticed them to use it for bill payment and build credit which would make them bankable and loyal.   No word on that either, but they have announced a reloadable prepaid debit card that is funded by the amount a payroll check is cashed for with bill payment capabilities.  Here's their press release:
BioPay Goes After Underbanked with Prepaid Card

Biometric check cashing company BioPay Paycheck Secure launches two new product offerings aimed at merchants who service the underbanked consumer sector: a prepaid debit card and a walk-in bill payment service.

Thus, the new prepaid debit card program allows retailers to cash customer checks and load the transaction proceeds onto a prepaid card which can subsequently be used for ATM cash withdrawals, online payments or at millions of other retailer establishments.

Biometric check cashing leader BioPay Paycheck Secure today announced that it has established partnerships that provide retailers with new, valuable product offerings, including walk-in bill payment and prepaid debit, to better serve underbanked consumers. This market constitutes more than 106 million individuals, who prefer to transact at alternate financial service centers, like grocery and convenience stores, rather than traditional banks.

The prepaid card program allows retailers to provide their check cashing customers with an alternative to cash. Now retailers can cash customer checks without stocking their stores with large sums of cash, instead loading the proceeds of a check cashing transaction directly onto a prepaid card.

The consumer may then use the value stored on the card at ATMs, online or at millions of retail and restaurant establishments. The card offers the consumer a safe means of building “savings”; providing protection should the card be lost or stolen and gives the consumer the convenience and prestige associated with mainstream card usage.

Both walk-in bill payment and prepaid cards markets are experiencing 30% plus growth rate, which offers grocery stores, convenience stores and other retailers the opportunity to increase their revenue, drive in-store traffic and increase their overall merchandise sales. Using Paycheck Secure, retailers may now provide this valuable service to the estimated 1 in 5 consumers who prefer to pay their bills in person.

"Providing our merchant customers with new tools to grow their business and meet the needs of the increasing alternate financial services market is our goal," said Jon Dorsey, CEO, BioPay Paycheck Secure. "The Paycheck Secure service positively enhances the transaction experience for underbanked consumers; and provides merchants with critical data to manage their businesses.”

Signing up to use bill pay and prepaid debit services or to cash checks using Paycheck Secure is quick and easy. The system's robust feature set and ease-of-use has facilitated over 53 million transactions worth $23 billion dollars for merchants and consumers nationwide.

For additional information about Paycheck Secure, please visit:

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Discover - Morgan Stanley Had Secret Talks with Visa/MC

Looks like Discover is today's HomeATM Blog topic of Day as the next post refers to them as well...

Finextra: Discover alleges Morgan Stanley had secret talks with Visa and MasterCard
Discover alleges Morgan Stanley had secret talks with Visa and MasterCard

In a lawsuit filed against Morgan Stanley, card scheme Discover claims that its former parent engaged in secret talks with its rivals, jeopardising its antitrust case against Visa and Mastercard and forcing it to agree to a lower $2.75 billion settlement than it might otherwise have been able to claim.

Discover was set to pay Morgan Stanley the first $700 million recovered from the anti-trust case and half of any proceeds above $1.5 billion, up to a total consideration of $1.5 billion, as part of a deal struck when the bank spun off the card company last year.

However the card scheme has refused to hand over the $1.2 billion claimed by Morgan Stanley from the settlement and disputed the bank's claims. Morgan Stanley has filed a suit seeking a declaratory judgement to resolve the issue.

Discover's counter-claim alleges that Morgan Stanley continued to have secret talks with Visa and MasterCard about the anti-trust case after it had spun off the card scheme. The alleged negotiations only came to light as Discover's legal team debated the merits of a $2.75 mediated settlement offered the day before the case was due to go to court.

Discover was was seeking damages that could have reached $18 billion, after being tripled under antitrust law, according to the claim, but was forced to choose between accepting the money on the table or "risking a trial without knowing whether its privileged and confidential information had been disclosed to its opponents."

Morgan Stanley has denied the claims.

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More on Antitrust and Visa/MC...

Economists provide antitrust analysis in Discover settlement case

Boston, Dec. 4, 2008 -- CRA International, Inc., a worldwide leader in providing economic, financial, and management consulting services, today announced that the Company assisted counsel for Discover Financial Services with economic antitrust analysis pertaining to a lawsuit seeking damages from Visa Inc. and MasterCard Inc. for practices that suppressed third-party issuing on the Discover Network and the acceptance of its cards. On October 27, 2008, Discover announced that it had reached a $2.75 billion settlement agreement with Visa and MasterCard in the third largest reported antitrust settlement in U.S. history.

In October 2004, Discover filed a damages suit following the conclusion of a Department of Justice lawsuit, which determined that by barring banks from issuing cards on the Discover Network, Visa and MasterCard violated antitrust laws. After four years, Visa and MasterCard agreed to settle the Discover suit on the night before the trial was to begin.

CRA International had been retained by Constantine Cannon and Kirkland & Ellis LLP to assist in analyzing the anti-competitive effects of the rules of Visa and MasterCard in prohibiting their member banks from issuing Discover credit and debit cards.

CRA supported Discover's expert economist, Professor Jerry A. Hausman, MacDonald Professor of Economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, MA, and a CRA Senior Consultant. The CRA team undertook economic analyses of market definition, market power, and the impacts of Visa's and MasterCard's rules on competition in the provision of credit and debit card network services. CRA also analyzed the monetary damages to Discover. This analysis contributed to determining the $2.75 billion settlement amount.

Jeffrey Shinder, co-lead counsel for Discover Financial Services and managing partner of Constantine Cannon's New York office, said, "CRA's analysis was invaluable to our case and helped us achieve one of the largest antitrust settlements in U.S. history. We are extraordinarily satisfied with CRA's economic analysis, as well as their depth of knowledge of the payments industry. CRA contributed with great teamwork and with the depth and skill of its economists."

"Our consultants are regularly tapped by leading companies seeking economic antitrust expertise," said James C. Burrows, CRA's President and Chief Executive Officer. "We are pleased that our economic antitrust analysis in this matter produced a positive result for our client."

CRA's work in this matter was directed by Craig Romaine, CRA Vice President, and Dr. Steven C. Salop, CRA Senior Consultant and Professor of Economics and Law at the Georgetown University Law Center. Other key CRA senior staff assisting in this effort included Spencer Graf, Stephen Kletter, and Mary Beth Savio.

About CRA International

Founded in 1965, CRA International is a leading global consulting firm that offers economic, financial, and business management expertise to major law firms, businesses, accounting firms, and governments. CRA's consultants combine uncommon analytical rigor with practical experience and in-depth understanding of industries and markets. CRA is adept at handling critical, tough assignments with high-stakes outcomes. The Company's analytical strength enables it to reach objective, factual conclusions that help clients make important business and policy decisions and resolve critical disputes. Headquartered in Boston, CRA has offices throughout North America, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. Detailed information about CRA is available at .

Source: Company press release.

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Discounts Pushed Sales on Cyber Monday

Ecommerce sales on Cyber Monday were pushed by discount offers according to a new report from comScore.

According to the company, Cyber Monday turning into the second highest online shopping day ever, reaching nearly $850 million. Year over year, shopping increased 15% but money spent per shopper actually declined.

Shoppers spent an average of $91 online this year versus nearly $97 in 2007. Despite the increase, though, there are signs that etailers need to do more to get shoppers in their online doors.

Both the number of transactions per consumer (9% decrease) and dollars spent per buyer (5% decline) dropped year over year, indicators that consumers are not buying as often or as much in 2008. It is also an indicator that consumers are shopping for price as much as for product.

"Because of the extremely attractive prices offered by a myriad of retailers, it shouldn't be surprising that nearly two million more consumers purchased online this Cyber Monday compared to last. But, because of their reduced spending power it's also evident that those who did buy were unable or unwilling to spend as much per person as we saw last year," said comScore chairman Gian Fulgoni. "That said, it's clear that Cyber Monday has become a well publicized event that has fundamentally captured consumers' attention and a meaningful share of their wallets."

As in year's past, consumers are still shopping from work. Shopping from work increased by 50% on Cyber Monday.

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