The next time you see someone using a self-serve prepaid debit kiosk, chances are pretty good they'll also have a bank debit card in their pocket.
Firms such as self-service kiosk partners Nexxo and Chexar are now looking beyond the traditional "underbanked" to a class of customer that responds to untraditional hours and locations: people who already have bank accounts.
"Half of the transactions take place late in the afternoon or evening … we see it with check-cashing and prepaid card activity, where so many customers that use these services are working two jobs. If you provide broader access to more hours, there's a lot of traction there," says Dave Alvarez, CEO of Nexxo, a firm that leverages kiosk technology to provide money transfer, bill pay and phone card services.
Nexxo works with Chexar, a provider of check-cashing, check-to-card and check guarantee services, to deploy self-service kiosks. While check-cashing, prepaid debit and bill payment services typically target the underbanked, the two firms are increasingly seeking banks and credit unions as a way to reach "banked" consumers who are using prepaid cards more as a way to improve financial health.
Nexxo recently signed the Omaha, Neb.-based Centris Federal Credit Union, and says it is working with other larger banks to deploy self-service kiosks, remote deposit capture and prepaid debit card loading.
"Most of these people are banked … and we have financial clients that are working with us on automating [processes] such as prepaid cards where consumers may want to use these cards for budgeting purposes," Alvarez says.
The tough economy has led consumers to move away from using credit cards to pay recurring or one-off bills, in favor of prepaid debit. The prepaid card market is growing rapidly, on pace to reach $200 billion in the next year from only $29 billion in 2009, according to the Pew Charitable Trust.
Chexar recently singed Regions Bank, which uses Chexar's range of mobile and self-service technology to drive an alternative prepaid and check cashing services product called "Now Banking." In an earlier interview with BTN, Regions head of Now Banking Bill Simpson said the ability to view and manage balances electronically is proving a useful way for both current and underbanked consumers to track their financial health.
"The entire banking industry is going prepaid … they're looking for services such as prepaid deposits and debit," says Drew Edwards, CEO of Chexar. Edwards says the overdraft-fee reductions from regulations such as the Dodd-Frank Act are also driving the move toward offering more digital prepaid products.
Other firms that target the prepaid debit market include Cardlytics, which provides merchant rewards tied to card usage; and prepaid card tech firms such as Netspend. Madeline Aufseeser, a senior analyst at Aite who covers prepaid, debit and credit card issuing, says the self-service kiosks can be a helpful venue, provided there is some means for the consumers to receive consultation where necessary.
"The strategy is a good one, as long as there is proper communication and education on how to use the machines and the service," she says. "Also, remote deposit capture is now available on both ATMs and smartphones, and that will help the industry out as well."
Nexxo says it will have an application ready shortly that will support mobile RDC with Chexar and other bank end-providers across its financial services platform.