CO-OP Launches Reloadable Debit Card
RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif. -- In a move that could provide credit unions with a significant new option for helping lower income and underbanked communities, CO-OP Financial Services has announced the release of a reloadable debit card, which will also allow access to the CO-OP's nationwide network of surcharge-free ATMs.
"Prepaid solutions continue to experience rapid growth in the card marketplace," said CO-OP CEO Stan Hollen. "The CO-OP Reloadable Prepaid Card offers flexibility and peace-of-mind to traveling members, college students, people on a budget and those who simply don't like to carry cash. The reloadable card also allows credit unions to provide a non-traditional service to the unbanked, which could become a stepping-stone to membership."
Features include in-branch load and reload, direct deposit capabilities, personalization, and online tracking. The reloadable cards are also protected against unauthorized purchases and can be replaced if lost or stolen.
CO-OP also said the program provides for management of all administrative services including plastics, activation, card packaging, transaction processing, and reporting and customer service. A complete, turnkey marketing program is also available to credit unions through its consumer marketing program, CO-OP said.
Jim Hanisch, executive vice president with CO-OP, said the CUSO was particularly excited by the card's uniqueness in the current market for prepaid debit cards. Most of the cards that offer nationwide access are those attached to a major retailer, like Wal-Mart or another less well-known firm, Hanisch explained.
Further, many of the other cards, particularly those offered to lower income people who may lack bank accounts or other financial services, are known for being expensive and carrying a lot of fees. A reloadable debit card offering surcharge-free access to ATMs will have a particular value in a lower income environment, Hanisch said.
The fees some reloadable ATMs carry for ATM access have been documented to be among the highest in the country and extend past the customary fees charged by the organization or institution that deployed the ATM.
Hanisch said CO-OP has beta tested the new card and is ready to roll it out to credit unions. In addition, the cards will carry either the Visa or MasterCard brand to further expand their utility as debit cards.
"You can get at this card's utility in two ways," Hanisch said. "It can be either a reloadable surcharge-free ATM card with debit card features or a reloadable debit card that also allows cardholders to make surcharge-free ATM transactions. Either one is unique in this current market."