In March 2013, the United States Secret Service issued a warning to the prepaid card industry that fraudsters are increasingly targeting the back-end computer systems of prepaid card processors. The agency said that, using a variety of remote attacks, hackers gain entry to networks with the ultimate goal of obtaining administrative access to prepaid accounts.
"In a successful event, the attackers are able to manipulate some combination of the balances of the target accounts and the fraud/loss prevention controls utilized by the processor," the Secret Service said. "Subsequently, unauthorized ATM withdrawals are conducted simultaneously in multiple countries throughout the world. In most instances these withdrawals are monitored in real time by the individuals conducting the operation."
The Secret Services' industry advisory can be accessed at www.alston.com/files/docs/Industry-Advisory-Payment-Processers.pdf , courtesy of Alston & Bird LLP.
The Chicago Transit Authority is promoting its coming general purpose reloadable (GPR) transit card, in the face of criticism from the Chicago media over the card's controversial fees. In the wake of the criticism, the CTA eliminated a reported $10 "research" fee that was to be charged certain cardholders for making customer service calls, as well as a $2.95 fee to reload the card online using a bankcard.
The Chicago Tribune reported that at an April 1, 2013, hearing, state legislators peppered Forrest Claypool, President of the CTA, about concerns that the MasterCard Worldwide-branded Ventra card would charge cardholders excessive fees. Lawmakers reportedly expressed concern that the GPR transit card would be used more as a revenue generating tool for the CTA than as a low-cost service for Chicago transit riders. The Ventra card is set to be introduced in summer 2013.
A research project commissioned by the DEFG Prepay Energy Working Group concluded that a link exists between prepaid electricity metering and energy conservation. The researchers disclosed in The Effect of Prepayment on Energy Use that energy usage was reduced by 5 to 15 percent when customers switched to energy prepayment plans, with an average energy savings of 11 percent.
Additionally, the report said the 11 percent average decrease is not a product of higher levels of disconnections when smart meters run out of time and power is cut off to households. The analysis indicated that "the level of disconnects is driven by usage and not by deprivation."
Cross-border bill payment firm BlueKite filed a patent application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for the cross-border prepayment of electricity accounts. BlueKite said its system allows people to prepay the electricity accounts of other people living abroad.
Reston, Va.-based call center automation specialist Contact Solutions LLC is in the running for the 2013 Helios Apollo Awards, which recognizes Washington, D.C., area employers for supporting employee development initiatives. Helios HR is a human resources outsourcing firm also based in Reston.
Fiserv Inc., payment processor for financial institutions (FIs), continued its expansion into the prepaid card sector by rolling out a mobile prepaid remote deposit capture (RDC) solution. Prepaid Source Capture, delivered through Mobile Source Capture from Fiserv, allows prepaid cardholders to deposit checks remotely via smart phones and have those funds instantly available for use.
Prepaid card processor i2c Inc. enhanced the multipurse features of its payment platform, MCP, by adding multiple purse functionality (sub-accounts) to main accounts. The enhancements are designed to help the parents of college students and others better manage finances via budgeting controls and real-time balance alerts.
Additionally, i2c reported that its client Sightline Payments LLC won Casino Journal's 2012 "Most Innovative Gaming Technology" award for its Loyalty Card Plus, a general purpose reloadable (GPR) prepaid card that works in conjunction with existing gaming loyalty programs.
Global information technology integrator NEC Corp. is providing the smart-phone-based service Wonder Money to the Japanese theme park, Universal Studios Japan. Wonder Money is a virtual, closed-loop prepaid account residing in NEC's mobile wallet app that allows theme park attendees to pay for products and services at the park via bar codes on smart phones.
Regions Bank introduced Regions Mobile Deposit to allow smart-phone and tablet computer users to remotely deposit checks to bank accounts or onto the Regions Now Card, the bank's Visa Inc.-branded GPR card. The FI said the mobile prepaid RDC capability costs as low as 50 cents per deposit.
Henderson, Nev.-based prepaid card program manager 3Pea International Inc. reported its 2012 revenue was up 103 percent from 2011. 3Pea said its investment in technology and infrastructure fueled its recent growth.
Open currency platform provider Zeevex, an InComm company, created a gift card exchange platform to give users the opportunity to trade Zeevex PINs for games, music and software from InComm's selection of online entertainment-affiliated partners, including Valve, Sony Online Entertainment, Hulu Plus, Roblox and Webkinz.
The new tandem of e-commerce platform provider Digital River Inc. and online prepaid voucher provider paysafecard allows online merchants to accept prepaid payments. Digital River reportedly offers e-merchants over 40 international and local payment options, and over 170 transaction and display currencies to choose from.
Merchant acquirer Global Payments Inc. and card-linked offer specialist edo Interactive entered a joint pilot program to integrate edō's card-linked offers platform with Global Payments' suite of marketing services to create a local merchant-focused loyalty solution.
Payment technology firm Giesecke & Devrient GmBH joined with eBay Inc. subsidiary PayPal Inc. and Vivo, the mobile telecommunication subsidiary of Telefônica Brasil, to provide Vivo customers with a prepaid account top-up capability. G&D hosts the back-end servers for the mobile solution.
Money transfer specialist MoneyGram International signed an agreement with Univision Enterprises, a division of Univision Communications Inc., to allow users of Univision's MasterCard Prepaid Card to send money transfers and expedite bill payments.
U.K.-based program manager Prepaid Financial Services Ltd. became the bank identification number sponsor for Lycamoney, the financial services division of telecommunications firm Lycamobile UK. PFS will be responsible for providing Lycamoney access to MasterCard Worldwide's prepaid card network.
Youth payments platform operator Virtual Piggy Inc. entered the prepaid card sector by inking a deal with Euronet Worldwide division epay. The division, which reportedly handles 40 percent and 86 percent of mobile top-up transactions in the United Kingdom and Australia, respectively, will allow Virtual Piggy users to purchase epay prepaid top-up cards at over 304,000 retail locations worldwide.
Health-care payments specialist Alegeus Technologies expanded its executive team. John Park, Matthew Francis and Robert Pinataro became Chief Strategy Officer, Chief Sales Officer and Chief Service Officer, respectively. Alegeus said Park and Francis have extensive experience in the health-care sector, while Pinataro will leverage his background in the technology, banking, insurance and benefit services industries at his new position.
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