As tax season begins, the prepaid card provider Plastyc Inc. will be able to see whether its technology can help H&R Block transform its prepaid card from a disposable, seasonal product into one they use repeatedly.
To this end, Plastyc’s Powered by Plastyc technology has been integrated into H&R Block’s Emerald Online prepaid MasterCard product, says Patrice Peyret, CEO of Plastyc. The companies began working together in November.
H&R Block cardholders can now access transaction history and inquiries, manage cash-back rewards, receive email and text alerts and add minutes to their prepaid cell phone and pay the phone’s bill. Plastyc’s system lets H&R Block send customized messages to specific customer segments.
Since the government has pushed back the date its sending tax refunds, Plastyc hasn’t seen anyone start using the prepaid card, although it is witnessing tens of thousands of people signing up every week, says Peyret.
By February, Plastyc expects to “see if there’s a linkage between the money received from the government and the use of the prepaid card,” he says.
During the next few months, Plastyc will be trying to win more partners for its Powered by Plastyc system. The technology could appeal to community banks, credit unions, insurance companies and wireless carriers, Peyret says.
Plastyc is also looking to work with alternative financial services providers, such as payday lenders and check cashers, says Peyret. However, these financial services providers “are not the best category to work with because of the fees,” he says.
As such companies consider operating online instead of solely through brick-and-mortar stores, they may become more interested in Plastyc’s product, Peyret says, especially since the company launched a mobile application in March 2012.
After analyzing their data, Plastyc found 55% of its users accessed its products with an Android device, while about 20 to 25% used an iPhone to access the features.
Plastyc customers are usually underbanked but they’re not “under-phoned,” Peyret says.
Plastyc started out catering to the youth population, creating a prepaid product with parental controls, similar to the BillMyParents prepaid card.
Plastyc began paying attention to adults because “it was pretty clear that prepaid was going to be a good alternative to a checking account” for that audience, Peyret says.
In the next few years more traditional financial services may start seeing prepaid as a better alternative and embrace the product like American Express has with its BlueBird Card, he says.
“It’s difficult for a lot of banks to say that one product could be replaced by another,” he says. “More generally now we believe the prepaid accounts are the future of checking.”
Not only will Plastyc be speaking with financial institutions to try and get them signed on to the Powered by Plastyc platform, but the company also hopes to launch mobile remote deposit capture in the near future. The product would allow underbanked prepaid cardholders to easily load funds onto their card.