The U.S. Department of the Treasury said benefits payments delivered to recipients by paper check will be completely phased out by March 2013. The Treasury Department said 80 percent of all benefits recipients in the United States have already signed up for either direct deposit or having funds loaded on open-loop, MasterCard Worldwide-branded Direct Express prepaid cards.
By transitioning to an entirely electronic benefits payments system, the department expects to save the Social Security program $120 million annually for a total savings of $1.2 billion over 10 years.
In a letter to Elizabeth Warren, head of the newly created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., author of the Durbin Amendment to the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, said the CFPB should regulate the prepaid card industry, especially as it concerns reloadable prepaid cards.
"These products are often loaded with deceptive and abusive fees, and are frequently marketed to appeal to younger Americans who may not be wise to their dangers," Durbin wrote. "I urge the Bureau to closely monitor the marketing, fees and terms of these products and to alert businesses and consumers about deceptive and abusive products."
The Network Branded Prepaid Card Association is concerned the Prepaid Card Consumer Protection Act of 2010, which would place caps and bans on fees, would reduce consumer choice or increase pricing, and potentially lead to prepaid cards being withdrawn from the marketplace.
By prohibiting or eliminating certain fees, the legislation sponsored by Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., fails to recognize that consumers choose different prepaid cards based on the services they feature, services that cost money to provide, said Kirsten Trusko, NBPCA President and Executive Director.
ACE Cash Express Inc. made a donation of $419,743 to the March of Dimes in support of programs to improve the health of newborns. The donation was made via ACE's annual "Give a Little" campaign – a combination of customer donations and ACE associates' fundraising efforts.
Before Christmas day 2010, InComm, provider of the Vanilla Visa gift card, donated $5,000 worth of the cards to the Murphy-Harpst Non Profit Organization for Children, a residential treatment center for at-risk children in Georgia.
Tampa, Fla.-based prepaid card processor nFinanSe Inc. launched its general purpose reloadable cards at Fred's Hometown Discount Stores, a regional chain store in the southeast and midwest United States.
Nationally syndicated radio talk show host Tom Joyner made a deal with PreCash Inc. to promote the Reach Visa Prepaid Card. Joyner said the Reach Card can "empower people to take control of their finances with a fairly priced prepaid card."
Gift card marketer Wolfe.com plans to add up to 50 new employees in 2011 to staff its Pittsburgh corporate headquarters and its planned regional offices in San Francisco, New York and St. Louis. Positions are listed at www.wolfe.com/careers/.
Mexico City-based soccer organization Club América teamed with Denarii Systems LLC to roll out the Club América Prepaid MasterCard to soccer fans in the United States. Club América said it has 20 million fans in Mexico.
Green Dot Corp. selected NICE Actimize, a division of NICE Systems, as its risk and compliance software platform. Green Dot said it recognized a need to increase the sophistication of its systems to provide greater operational efficiencies and flexibility.
Gift and meal voucher processor Edenred acquired Euroticket, Romania's fourth-largest provider of meal and gift vouchers, for 5.5 million euros. Edenred said the purchase enables the France-based company to consolidate its position in Romania, where it now enjoys close to a 40 percent market share.
First California Financial Group Inc. reported that First California Bank entered an agreement to acquire the Electronic Banking Solutions division of Palm Desert National Bank. Terms were not disclosed.
The Western Union Co. signed an agreement to purchase Angelo Costa SRL, one of its money transfer network agents in Europe. Western Union, which already owns 30 percent of Angelo Costa, will acquire the remaining 70 percent of the company for a reported 100 million euros.
Stored-value processor SparkBase appointed Matt Mignona Vice President of Sales and Andrew Kraynak Vice President of Marketing. The Cleveland-based company said it hired seven additional staff members in 2010.
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