Boatmen's Bancshares is providing a prepaid card for Maritz Inc., a company that offers employee incentive packages to Fortune 500 companies.

Maritz's corporate clients can use the Your Choice MasterCard, introduced last week, to reward employees with merchandise and travel awards at selected merchants.

The two St. Louis-based companies have had a banking relationship for years. Last year the bank began issuing a cobranded corporate card for customers of Maritz - the Exclusively Yours MasterCard, which replaces checks or certificates commonly used for employee incentives.

Since that time, Maritz said, its chief competitors - Carlson Marketing, Business Incentives, and S&H Citadel - have introduced card-based incentive programs, but not with a MasterCard or Visa brand.

D. Mark Jackson, vice president of electronic banking for Boatmen's, said the Your Choice card "opens new revenue opportunities."

David Mulcahy, Your Choice card product manager for Maritz, said the $2 billion company saw a need for a card that offered awards of up to $250.

Clients of Maritz can buy the card in seven denominations: $25, $50, $75, $100, $150, $200, and $250. The card displays the company's name, an expiration date, the Your Choice logo, and the MasterCard logo and hologram.

An employee using the card signs a tamper-evident panel on the back; to complete a transaction, the employee must sign a sales receipt. Once the value is used up, the card can be thrown away.

"There are scores of companies and organizations out there that give holiday gifts," Mr. Mulcahy said. Your Choice MasterCard can be viewed as an "electronic gift certificate" that can be used at select retailers.

"We saw a need that the participant wanted more than just to be able to pick from a merchandise catalog," Mr. Mulcahy said.

The first card, he said, was designed for long-term programs; with it, incentive-program participants accrue points based on achieving performance goals.

Each point equals a dollar, and total points are held in participants' cardholder accounts at Boatmen's Bank. Employees can use their cards with the accrued value to buy goods and services from participating MasterCard merchants. Value can be added to the card.

Maritz will be marketing Your Choice MasterCard to Exclusively Yours clients, plus new customers, he said.

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