SAN RAMON, Calif., April 24, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Jim Jones, CEO of privately held AccountNow, Inc., one of the nation's largest prepaid card companies, praised the independently researched Prepaid Industry Scorecard, newly released by the Center for Financial Services Innovation (www.cfsinnovation.com), the nation's leading authority on financial services for underserved consumers.
"Ten years ago, general purpose reloadable (GPR) cards were a good idea in the early implementation phase. No one was quite sure of how they would be accepted. Serving the financial needs of consumers without a traditional banking relationship was largely unchartered territory for mainstream financial firms. But digital technology enabled affordable and useful new products and now prepaid cards are enthusiastically embraced by banks and financial services firms, both large and small," according to Jones. "Today, 13% of the U.S. population holds a prepaid card, and AccountNow, Inc., a company born in this era, successfully competes for customers with banks and payment companies such as American Express and Western Union," he said.
The Center for Financial Services Innovation (CFSI) analyzed 18 general purpose reloadable (GPR) cards, which represent 90% of the total GPR marketplace, including the AccountNow Gold Visa® Prepaid Card. The research was funded in part by the Anne E. Casey Foundation. It compared prepaid card industry practices to CFSI's Compass Principles which assess standards for quality, best practices and additional services that improve consumers' lives. Compass Principles are also supported, in part, by the Ford Foundation and are intended to provide a set of benchmarks against which future progress can be measured.
CFSI's Prepaid Industry Scorecard employed quantitative and qualitative methods of analysis to generate scores that accurately capture the quality of products in the prepaid marketplace. Their analysis illustrates a fast growing industry that has opened new avenues for financially underserved customers everywhere and allowed Americans to embrace a convenient new way of executing their financial transactions while learning to manage their personal finances more effectively.
The Prepaid Industry Scorecard assessed the industry in three categories, assigning letter grades from "A", the highest grade where standards for high quality functionality are prevalent, to "D" where additional services are just beginning to become available:
A- For the prepaid card industry's adoption of standards necessary for prepaid cards to be considered high-quality financial products – articulated in the Compass Guide to Prepaid.
B For best practices for providers to stretch beyond the basics.
C- For Next Generation additional services that improve customers' lives.
"The prepaid industry has matured operationally and professionally. It has successfully navigated a maze of technological, privacy, state and national regulations and compliance issues and is now focused on the hyper-personalization of products to meet an immense diversity of consumer needs," said Jones. "This means consumers will engage an ever expanding menu of new financial services, such as remote deposit capture and money remittance, which offer consumers more choices and illustrate the trend toward prepaid cards moving beyond a transaction service toward a comprehensive personal finance platform," he said. "Customers are able to complete transactions at point of sale, ATM networks, by phone, online or via mobile devices. Availability, convenience and value of financial services will continue to increase for previously overlooked consumers."
Industry pricing design was graded a "B+" by the CFSI report and customer service earned a "B", comparing favorably with traditional banking services. With unstoppable trends toward mobility and globalization, it appears that the estimated 68 million previously financially underserved U.S. consumers are gaining the ability to manage their finances, and literally billions of unbanked people around the planet will be joining the global community.
About AccountNow, Inc.
AccountNow (www.accountnow.com), headquartered in San Ramon, California, is a leading provider of financial solutions for consumers who choose not to have traditional banking relationships. AccountNow provides consumers a convenient and affordable alternative to traditional checking accounts and access to financial payments systems including Visa® and MasterCard® prepaid cards, with features such as online bill payment and card-to-card transfers.
AccountNow Gold Visa Prepaid Cards are issued by The Bancorp Bank pursuant to a license from Visa U.S.A. Inc. and can be used everywhere Visa debit cards are accepted.
CONTACT: Media Contact: Gary Douglas firstname.lastname@example.org (949) 464-9301Source:AccountNow, Inc.