FiCentive, Inc. has introduced a service that enables consumersto reload prepaid cards using their bank’s online bill service – acapability that Mercator Advisory Group has recommended to existingonline bill pay suppliers for three years.
To use the PrepaidLoad.Com service from FiCentive, the consumersimply “pays a bill” identifying the recipient as PrepaidLoad.Com -using the prepaid card number receiving the load as the accountnumber associated with biller (PrepaidLoad.Com).FiCentive utilizesthe account number as the referral that identifies theparticipating issuer and card account.FiCentive then remits thefunds to the issuer with the account instructions.
The challenge, as with all reload schemes, is the inability forthe cardholder to know if their specific prepaid card is supportedby the service.Of course FiCentive would argue that communicatingthe availability of the service is the job of the issuer.The factremains however that, as with network brands, it is the networkenabling the load that must be recognized by the consumer.This hasbeen a key problem for every reload network, from Green Dot toMasterCard RePower and Visa ReadyLink.
FiCentive is a small supplier with limited ability to establisha new national reload brand.On the plus side, FiCentive indicatesthat it intends to support closed as well as open loop issuers.Withluck, this may drive greater adoption and reload volume across agreater range of issuers, which would in turn help drive greaterbrand awareness.The challenge in this approach to driving brandawareness is that it demands extremely broad adoption and marketingefforts funded by the issuers.This broad adoption and marketinginvestment will only develop if the cost of this reload functionfor the issuer is extremely low compared to all other reloadoptions – said another way; the lowest cost reload option will getthe most marketing dollars from the issuer.
Implemented using the existing bill pay mechanism, low costimplementations may well be the case.The proof will be how rapidlyFiCentive is able to recruit new issuers to the solution.MercatorAdvisory Group will be interested in learning what adoption rateFiCentive achieves, and we wish them well, since this is the reloadmechanism that this author has been waiting for – I simply expectedit to be introduced by the major bill pay suppliers, not by acompany that specializes in deploying card acceptance to governmentagencies.