Like most banks and businesses, The State Bank of La Junta, CO, viewed the debit interchange fees charged by the likes of MasterCard and Visa as one of those unfortunate, inevitable costs of doing business. Then CIO Brad Rose heard about a technology startup called Bling Nation that aimed to eliminate those interchange fees through a contactless, mobile payments technology that also encouraged local commerce by making it easy for merchants and banks to pass along those savings to customers in the form of customized loyalty programs.
Rose invited Bling Nation to make a presentation to the bank and Chamber of Commerce in early 2009 and the interest was immediate. Says Rose: "Everyone fell in love with the program for the way it helps the local community." The State Bank, with $97 million in assets, agreed to become the first bank in the nation to deploy the technology and the acceptance was quick. Within three months of implementation, 50 percent of the bank's debit card customers had adopted the technology, 80 percent of the target merchants had signed up, and the number of debit transactions per customer was growing. And, significantly, the bank won 23 new business customers that wanted access to the technology.