Union Telecard Alliance Cash Card

Summer might be over, but the prepaid industry continues to heat up, as providers look for new ways to fuel revenues in the face of slimming margins. To this end, seasoned prepaid veteran Scott Matthews, president of Orlando-based IGE Inc. (International Gateway Exchange), is utilizing his experience in the phone card industry to launch two stored value products.

UTA Cash CardTrendy yes, but newsworthy? Absolutely, because in addition to recognizing a hot new area of industry opportunity, Matthews and company have formed alliances with well-known distributor UTA (Union Telecard Alliance) and giant Western Union to bring a loadable cash card and a prepaid bank card to consumers nationwide.

While this type of venture might represent an uptick in the prepaid industry’s future, end-users will benefit as well. The cards are targeted primarily to college students and unbanked consumers — an estimated 40 million people — who, without bank accounts or credit cards, have limited or nonexistent payment options other than cash when shopping at many retail or online locations.

With transaction processing, tracking, customer service and custom software provided by IGE, the UTA CashCard and the UTA Prepaid MasterCard will be available at more than 350,000 UTA retail locations. UTA, a division of IDT, is one of the largest prepaid phone card distribution channels in the country. Customers who purchase the products can go to any one of more than 35,000 Western Union locations to have their debit cards loaded with money, gaining instant access to the nation’s electronic banking and payment networks.

Once loaded, the CashCard works like an ATM card and can be used at any ATM or point-of-sale (POS) location where STAR, Interlink or PLUS are accepted. The Prepaid MasterCard will be welcomed anywhere a traditional MasterCard is accepted.

“When IGE brought us the idea for the CashCard, I knew this was the future,” says Carlos Gomez, CEO of UTA. “This is how the business is going to go, so we developed the product together.” UTA’s distribution channel as well as the overall experience of IGE’s management team attracted Western Union to the partnership. “We are joining with IGE because of its partnership with UTA,” says Keith Diveley, senior vice president and general manager of Western Union SwiftPay. “The people running IGE know what they are doing and have the necessary distribution.

“We look at IGE as a great customer; replenishment of (the UTA CashCard) is another extension of our SwiftPay service that targets the prepaid industry,” says Diveley. “Any (product) with a recurring payment is an opportunity for us. From our standpoint, we are adding to what we are doing overall in the prepaid industry, and we are adding another great client.”

“Our goal is to bring value to the consumer,” adds Matthews, who is president of IGE. “There is a huge value in providing the unbanked population with a stored value solution that is convenient for them to use as well as economical for them to maintain.”

Access to cash — and moreA consumer can purchase a two-card UTA CashCard for $19.95 off the retail shelf. For $6, he can load one of the cards with cash up to $999 at a Western Union location and remain anonymous. By calling IGE to register the card, the consumer can load up to $2,500 as well as obtain card replacement protection.

A consumer can purchase a two-card UTA CashCard for $19.95 off the retail shelf. For $6, he can load one of the cards with cash up to $999 at a Western Union location and remain anonymous. By calling IGE to register the card, the consumer can load up to $2,500 as well as obtain card replacement protection.”For $19.95, they are purchasing technically an off-the-shelf bank account,” says Matthews. “But by registering the card, we can manage it better by knowing who they are and where they are located.”

Consumers can use the second card in the CashCard set for friends or relatives. The card purchaser simply provides that person with the card and a secret PIN so that they, too, can have access to the original prepaid account.

In addition, the CashCard can be used to prepay for long distance; when registering the card, end-users can opt for this service. For example, $10 on the card can be designated for long distance calling, and users will receive a voice prompt while talking when five minutes remain on their card. They can also opt for automatic replenishment, which enables them to hit a key on their phone during a conversation and obtain an additional $10 increment of phone time on their card without terminating the call. Matthews adds that consumers who choose the domestic prepaid phone time feature will receive 100 free minutes with the first load.

IGE plans to add options for prepaid wireless and prepaid local dialtone service by year’s end.

The CashCard also facilitates automatic deposit of a payroll check, as does the Prepaid MasterCard, which will roll out in November. The MasterCard application will either be included in the CashCard package and/or will be offered to each customer during the CashCard registration phone call process, says Matthews. “The MasterCard works just like the ATM/debit card, but the unbanked consumer, or those without credit histories such as college students, can now join the ranks of the millions of Americans who pull out the plastic at stores, restaurants or when shopping on the Internet. The Prepaid MasterCard can help these customers build a positive credit history,” Matthews says. The MasterCard will cost the consumer an estimated $49.95.

Matthews also notes that a rewards and incentives program will be available later this year for consumers who apply for the MasterCard. They will be rewarded with vacation packages or discounts or receive points in a redemption program.

Back to schoolMatthews believes the key to attracting consumers initially to the stored value products is education. “The goal is to advertise and educate the marketplace a lot like we did in the beginning days of prepaid phone cards,” he says. “When I started in the phone card industry, customers didn’t even understand the concept of getting somebody to prepay for a product.” Matthews says, however, that the job of educating the marketplace about stored value products will be easier since a similar product — the prepaid phone card — is already in the stores.

Matthews believes the key to attracting consumers initially to the stored value products is education. “The goal is to advertise and educate the marketplace a lot like we did in the beginning days of prepaid phone cards,” he says. “When I started in the phone card industry, customers didn’t even understand the concept of getting somebody to prepay for a product.” Matthews says, however, that the job of educating the marketplace about stored value products will be easier since a similar product — the prepaid phone card — is already in the stores.IGE plans to use commercial media such as Univision, Telemundo and different types of Hispanic sports marketing programs to get its message out. “We are also looking at doing some things with Little League, such as hanging banners on fences, just to educate and bring awareness,” says Matthews, a former professional baseball player. “We also are trying to give money back to support the Hispanic community, perhaps in the form of sending underprivileged kids to baseball camp. We aren’t just targeting the Hispanic community, but we feel it’s going to be a dominant marketplace.”

Perfect for private labelingWhatever the niche segment a company might want to target, IGE provides the UTA CashCards to clients as part of a turnkey program that can include private labeling under a customer’s own brand. The company promotes the CashCard as a product that can replace the need for a retailer’s traditional gift card and separate phone cards. Says Matthews, “If Walgreen’s, for example, put out a UTA CashCard, the consumer would see the brand name not only when shopping in Walgreen’s, but when he used the debit card to go to the movies or make a phone call.”

Whatever the niche segment a company might want to target, IGE provides the UTA CashCards to clients as part of a turnkey program that can include private labeling under a customer’s own brand. The company promotes the CashCard as a product that can replace the need for a retailer’s traditional gift card and separate phone cards. Says Matthews, “If Walgreen’s, for example, put out a UTA CashCard, the consumer would see the brand name not only when shopping in Walgreen’s, but when he used the debit card to go to the movies or make a phone call.”According to Matthews, the company offers technical expertise, card design and production as well as the backbone infrastructure to help customers maintain a competitive edge in the fast-emerging stored value arena.

This infrastructure includes state-of-the-art IBM-I series hardware and fourth-generation LANSA application software, says Matthews. In addition, IGE has invested in sophisticated firewalls and a high level of security. Using cameras and motion detectors, a New York security firm monitors the company’s processing center to safeguard all systems.

Future plansBy the end of November, IGE will increase its 24/7 customer service staff to more than 200 in-house agents, and the company will increase its physical plant to more than 50,000 square feet. Matthews adds, “We are working hard to put a legitimate product out on the street. We want to give consumers something they can’t normally get and at the same time offer cost-effective savings in the services that they purchase.”

By the end of November, IGE will increase its 24/7 customer service staff to more than 200 in-house agents, and the company will increase its physical plant to more than 50,000 square feet. Matthews adds, “We are working hard to put a legitimate product out on the street. We want to give consumers something they can’t normally get and at the same time offer cost-effective savings in the services that they purchase.”







2 Responses to 'Union Telecard Alliance Cash Card'

  1. sonia Austin - September 12th, 2007 at 9:52 am

    Would like to buy a phone card

  2. kenya - April 20th, 2008 at 8:42 pm

    Hi !
    how much is the minute to Mexico, Queretaro City?
    Thank you so much!


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