Rev Worldwide, a prepaid card marketer that targets underserved markets in India, Romania, Kosovo, Australia and Mexico, is now making plans for the U.S. market.
The Austin company says it plans to develop, operate and market prepaid card and mobile-payments products meant for consumers who are wary of banks.
"The U.S. is a huge market for financial services, and the recent turmoil opened new doors for innovations and new financial relationships because consumers have lost faith in traditional financial institutions," said Bertrand Sosa, Rev Worldwide's North American operations president.
Consumers' growing use of prepaid cards also has created opportunities to expand beyond the traditional reliance on the card, said Sosa, who co-founded, with his brother Roy, the prepaid card marketer NetSpend Corp. Capital One Financial Corp. purchased a minority stake in NetSpend in 2007.
Rev Worldwide is developing a system that would let mobile-phone owners transfer funds from their prepaid accounts to other mobile phone owners' prepaid accounts. It also is working on mobile payments technology that would let people make purchases at the point of sale with phones linked to prepaid accounts, Sosa said.
The prepaid market is growing, and it is innovative, agreed Adil Moussa, an analyst at Aite Group LLC, but Rev Worldwide's ideas are not unusual.
"Processors provide those services now. First Data's Go Tag enables purchases with cell phones," Moussa said. "I don't see what's so different about what they are offering."
Rev Worldwide to date has made its biggest moves abroad. For example, its Rev Europe subsidiary in November introduced the first prepaid card in Kosovo that lets consumers there transfer funds domestically to other people's mobile phones. And Rev Asia-Pacific, another subsidiary, in October formed a partnership with MasterCard Inc. to introduce a prepaid card for unbanked consumers in India.
"We are taking our best practices from elsewhere and bringing them here," Sosa said.