Debit & Prepaid

Rev Worldwide Sets North America As Its Next Target

Rev Worldwide, a prepaid card marketer serving underserved markets in India, Romania, Kosovo, Australia and Mexico, this year plans to establish North American operations. The Austin, Texas-based company says it plans to develop, operate and market integrated prepaid card and mobile-payments initiatives for North American financial institutions, telecommunication firms and merchants.

Bertrand Sosa, Rev Worldwide’s North American operations president, contends U.S. consumers are open to alternative payment methods and new financial relationships because of the market turbulence affecting major banks. “The U.S. is a huge market for financial services, and the recent turmoil [within the financial-services industry] opened new doors for [payment] innovations and new financial relationships because consumers have lost faith in traditional financial institutions,” Sosa says.

Consumers’ growing prepaid card use also has created opportunities to grow the industry beyond the traditional reliance on cards, says Sosa, who along with his brother Roy cofounded prepaid card marketer NetSpend Corp. They sold the business in 2007 to Capital One Financial Corp. for $700 million, but the deal collasped.

Rev Worldwide is developing a platform to enable mobile-phone owners to transfer funds from their prepaid account to another mobile phone owner’s prepaid account. It also is developing a platform to support purchases at the point of sale using cell phones linked to prepaid accounts. The company is developing the platforms through partnerships with financial institutions, telecommunications companies and merchants, Sosa says.

The prepaid market is growing, and it is innovative, agrees Adil Moussa, a Boston-based analyst with Aite Group LLC. But Rev Worldwide’s ideas are not unusual, he says.

“Processors provide those services now. First Data’s Go Tag enables purchases with cell phones,” Moussa says. “I don’t see what’s so different about what they are offering. Unless I know how [Rev Worldwide] will deliver the services, it is difficult to comment on their services.”

Rev Worldwide has made its biggest moves thus far overseas. For example, Rev Europe, a Rev Worldwide subsidiary, in November introduced the first prepaid card in Kosovo that enables mobile phone-owning consumers there to send funds to each other’s cell phones domestically (see story). http://www.paymentssource.com/news/reveurope-offering-prepaid-visa-cards-romania-2710211-1.html And Rev Asia Pacific, another subsidiary, in October partnered with MasterCard Worldwide to launch a prepaid card for unbanked Indian consumers (see story) .

“We are taking our best practices from elsewhere and bringing them here,” Sosa says