The prepaid card provider Plastyc Inc. has added a mobile remote deposit capture feature that provides instant access to funds.

Plastyc’s mobile RDC feature allows cardholders to choose between having funds credited to the account in real-time for a fee or waiting five days for the funds to be loaded without a charge. The New York-based company charges 1% of the check’s value for printed payroll or government checks and 4% for other checks.

“We’re trying to measure that behavior of the customer of speed versus fee sensitivity,” says Patrice Peyret, CEO of Plastyc.

Plastyc offers the service because many small to mid-sized employers don’t offer direct deposit, and employees who receive checks might otherwise have to deal with the hassles of visiting a check casher, he says.

The company will roll out the service to certain cardholders starting Feb. 11. Cardholders can use the feature to deposit checks as large as $2,500.

Peyret says it’s customary for check cashers to charge 2% for payroll and government checks and much more than 4% for other checks. Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s money centers charge the same 1% as Plastyc, and the retailer caps its charge at $3 for checks of up to $1,000 and $6 for checks of up to $7,500. For large checks, this fee can be less than 1% of the total check amount.

But Wal-Mart has a different set of rules. It allows customers to cash only payroll checks, government checks, tax checks and Walmart-issued MoneyGram orders, according to its website. Wal-Mart also doesn’t have a no-fee option or a mobile deposit option, though it waives the issuance fee for consumers who choose to receive their funds on a Walmart MoneyCard. Because of these differences, Peyret says he doesn’t see Wal-Mart as a true competitor.

In May 2012, Peyret said, the application would only be active if used from the cardholder’s home, an attempt to discourage people from using their phones to deposit checks from the parking lot of a check-cashing store and then rushing inside to cash it again.

“In the prepaid industry we’re exposed to people who, unfortunately, are more tempted to do this,” says Peyret. The restrictions “are more preventive; we’re trying to protect the reputation of the industry,” he says.

Plastyc will try being more permissive in the locations it supports during the test period, “to measure some of these boundaries to make sure we’re not too restrictive but at the same time not opening ourselves up to fraud,” Peyret says.

Plastyc knows where its cardholders live since it sends its prepaid card to the consumer’s home address. It can use GPS location data on customers’ smartphones to track. If the GPS is turned off on a user’s phone the application will not work.

To counteract fraudulent use of RDC, companies in the prepaid market are putting together a central database so they can communicate to each other about who sees the check first. The prepaid companies do not yet know whether they could legally shut down a customer when the fraud occurs on another company's account, says Peyret.

Plastyc, as it stated in May, reserves the right to call cardholders on their mobile devices to authenticate the transaction.

Plastyc's rollout comes after an October announcement by Chexar Networks Inc. and Visa Inc. to allow prepaid card companies to offer mobile RDC features. Visa and Chexar work with Plastyc, AccountNow and UniRush.

Plastyc recently began working with H&R Block, integrating its Powered by Plastyc technology into H&R Block’s Emerald Online prepaid MasterCard product. The partnership added new features to the Emerald Online product to urge consumers to stop treating the cards as disposable.

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