Cobaltcard.com, a start-up that markets a secured credit card for 13-to-22-year-olds, has hired the general manager of bank cards at Associates First Capital Corp. as president and chief executive officer.
Randall M. Chesler, 41, is among a battalion of card executives to leave more-traditional companies for dot-coms.
Mr. Chesler has spent 18 years in the banking business, mostly as a credit card specialist. In his three at Associates he was credited with arranging agent-bank relationships with Washington Mutual Inc. and KeyCorp.
Earlier he was executive vice president of member relations at Visa U.S.A. for three years. Still earlier he worked for 12 years in a variety of jobs at Citicorp, where he rose to senior vice president.
Though the Internet gold rush has died down, Mr. Chesler said he is not worried about Cobaltcard.
"Companies that lack a viable business model are really the ones running into trouble," he said. "This company has a real profit stream. The market we're going after has really been untapped."
The young people it targets spend $150 billion a year and typically have trouble finding ways to pay for items they want to buy online, Cobaltcard says.
Other companies, among them Rocketcash Corp. and Doughnet Inc., have been formed to offer payment cards to these young people for Internet shopping. A key differentiator for Cobaltcard is that it can be used in the real world as well as on the Internet, Mr. Chesler said, and the company is working to develop other distinctive features.
Cobaltcard.com, founded in April, issues a cobranded Visa card through an agreement with Heritage Bank of Commerce in San Jose, Calif. The Silicon Valley community bank, which caters to Internet start-ups, is best known as the incubator bank of the NextCard Visa.
Cobaltcards are linked to deposit accounts funded by young people or their parents. As the cardholders spend money, their accounts must be continually replenished. Mr. Chesler, who succeeded Cobaltcard.com co-founder Roberta Jacobs, is president and CEO of the company and its parent, Zowi.com. Ms. Jacobs became chief strategy officer.