LAS VEGAS — American Express honcho Alpesh Chokshi got downright evangelical about serving the underbanked and unbanked in his keynote at Money2020 but that is because as president of global payments options the innovative Walmart-American Express spawned Bluebird card is squarely in his court.
Pronounced Chokshi: “Bluebird is Money2020.”
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Chokshi said at his Tuesday session in the Aria resort that “Bluebird is about creating a lot of value without a lot of fees” and he elaborated that it is technology that is letting this happen. “This could not have happened five years ago.”
“Bluebird is about serving people who want better value,” he said.
He tossed out numbers: 35% of the world does not have a bank account - but 80% have mobile phones.
In the U.S., he said, there are 23 million who are unbanked or underbanked.
Chokshi insisted Walmart stores would work well as de facto branches and he made a vivid point by asking the audience – numbering in the hundreds – how many had been to a bank branch in the past week. Three hands went up.
“The mobile phone is changing everything,” he said.
“We think Bluebird can work for all Americans.”
In response to a question from the audience, Chokshi specifically addressed the Bluebird lack of FDIC coverage, which some analysts have seen as an impediment to adoption.
Chokshi sees matters otherwise. American Express, he said, has offered a range of financial products such as travelers checks going back over a century and the company has never had FDIC coverage. That did not slow adoption by consumers, he suggested.
He added that the partners had surveyed consumers and found no worries about the lack of FDIC coverage.
He indicated that the current offering is Bluebird 1.0. Bluebird 2.0 – which will feature paper checks among other enhancements – is slated for rollout early in 2013.
More on Bluebird:
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