One of the most innovative prepaid card companies, AccountNow is partnering with MoneyGram, a international funds transfer company, to offer online services to customers starting November of this year according to a recent press release. AccountNow and MoneyGram say that cardholders can now send money to Aunt Anna in Italy or Cousin Michael in Australia in as little as 10 minutes through the AccountNow web portal. Transferred funds can be picked up at any MoneyGram location internationally.
MoneyGram’s Reload Network functions as one of the oldest money transfer companies in the U.S. providing services since the 1940’s at thousands of postal, retail and financial institutions. According to MoneyGram, they have grown their global network to over 244,000 agent locations in 192 different countries worldwide. By joining forces with the ubiquitous AccountNow Visa and AccountNow MasterCard prepaid programs, it will be interesting to observe how market forces prevail with another arrow in the value-added quiver of AccountNow. This new venture can only frustrate the traditional banking community as many of their loyal customers continue to announce their defections to other less fee-intrusive and more value-added competitors.
According to recent studies by the Mercator Group, a leading independent research and advisory services firm focusing on the payments and banking industries, the open-loop prepaid market witnessed robust growth in 2010, growing to $148.4 billion – – an increase of 19 percent from $124.6 billion in 2009. As growth in the prepaid space continues at a dynamic pace, we can only assume that technological advances, product simplicity, competitive pricing and product innovation with continued focus on client needs and value might one day grab dominant market share from traditional brick and mortar financial institutions.
Mercator goes on to say that the future for the prepaid sector is foggy given economic and regulatory uncertainties. All that we can hope is that CEO’s, legislators and financial gurus keep the customer’s needs in plain sight, as that has always been the basis of our great capitalist system.