Green Dot Corp. plans to start offering credit lines to its customers, a move that likely foreshadows how new regulations will reshape the prepaid card industry.
Chief Executive Officer Steve Streit told analysts Thursday that he envisions Green Dot offering a secured credit card and an unsecured line of credit.
Streit's description of the unsecured credit line sounded a lot like a subprime credit card, although he didn't use that term. The product will be marketed to Green Dot's base of low- and moderate-income customers.
"FICO scores are not what they used to be. In our demographic, they were never good to begin with," Streit said on a conference call following the release of Green Dot's quarterly earnings.
"So if you're a single mom with two kids, and you're making $50,000 or $60,000 a year in household income, you're not going to get a loan from any bank. We want to change that with a highly pro-consumer, well-priced product."
The Pasadena, Calif., company's announcement follows the November release of proposed new federal regulations for the prepaid card industry. Under the proposal, prepaid card issuers would have to verify the customer's ability to repay before extending credit to the consumer.
Streit said Thursday that Green Dot will underwrite the extension of unsecured credit to its customers. He added that the two new lending products will require regulatory approval and oversight.
The proposed rules, which were written by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, would also place limits on the interest and fees that could be charged.
This is not Green Dot's first foray into credit cards. Starting in 2006, the company ran a pilot test in which it sold credit cards at Rite Aid Corp. stores. That card was sold to anyone who could verify his or her identify, regardless of creditworthiness. The product carried an annual fee of $70, a monthly fee of $4.95, and had a $200 credit limit.
That card would not be allowed today. A 2010 law bars card issuers from charging annual and monthly fees that exceed 25% of the initial credit limit.