2013 Paybefore Awards: Best Non-U.S.-Based Program (May 2013)
Best prepaid or emerging payments program launched and operated by a non-U.S. company outside the U.S.
Best in Category: Power to Pay Program
Power to Pay NFC tags for mobile phones were developed exclusively for IIT Bombay students and faculty and can be used at select campus outlets for day-to-day purchases via the RuPay payments network.
- ItzCash Card Ltd.
- National Payments Corporation of India (RuPay)
- Canara Bank
- Indian Institute of Technology – Bombay
With a population of 1.2 billion and a largely cash-based culture, the potential for electronifying payments in India is always discussed with a sense of awe. But equal to the market potential is the challenge of addressing India’s deeply embedded cash culture through payment products with value propositions and price points so compelling they prompt change.
ItzCash’s Power to Pay, which uses NFC tags attached to mobile phones to enable micropayments, is a grassroots program to introduce tech-savvy university students to the benefits of electronic payments.
This project has created a seamless app in the education sector as a route to introduce the younger generation to a new way to pay. The IIT Bombay campus was the first to launch Power to Pay and also the first Indian campus to adopt an NFC-cashless system for payment collection. Students use their Power to Pay tags for on-campus purchases, such as food, stationery, etc. The tags can be loaded for free online or through campus reload points. Funds also can be loaded via cash through a reload network comprised of ItzCash franchisees, where the equivalent of a $50 reload costs 45 cents.
Not only do students benefit from the cash alternative, the university is a big winner, too. Power to Pay electronifies micropayments, relieving the university and the merchants within it of the burden to count and reconcile cash.
The team that put this program together is counting on the student demographic to get a taste of the convenience and other benefits of electronic payment—combined with the panache of early adoption—and to continue the transition from cash to electronic payment after graduation. The launch at the IIT Bombay campus is the beginning of a national rollout.
Ultimately, the program could be expanded to 523 universities and more than 33,000 colleges across India, introducing a significant (and impressionable) population to cashless payment. Although started as an on-campus program, Power to Pay has the potential to fulfill other uses, such as benefits transfer, remittance, payroll and GPR. It also has the potential to enable any device and form factor for payment purposes.
Winner: City of Toronto Services Benefits Card
- SelectCore Ltd.
Toronto Employment and Social Services wanted to streamline disbursement of Ontario Works Social Assistance benefits. The check-based system in place prior to July 2012 had shortcomings, including high administrative costs and audit and fraud issues. And, it placed a heavy burden on recipients in terms of the inconvenience and cost to cash checks.
SelectCore Payments, a Toronto-based program manager, addressed the multiple challenges—as well as an aggressive implementation deadline—by developing the City Services Benefits Card program to replace benefits checks with instant-issue, EMV chip-and-PIN prepaid MasterCard cards. The card is now issued by 15 Employment and Social Services office across Toronto.
Recipients are enrolled in the program by their personal caseworker. Then, the card is securely printed, personalized and encoded on-site. Cardholders select their PINs and leave with active cards. Government funds are loaded automatically. Mobile apps, SMS and email alerts, online account access and 24/7 IVR and live agent support are also provided by SelectCore.
The program is driving a province-wide reevaluation of benefits delivery and distribution. SelectCore welcomes the expansive thinking, as it says its solution is scalable to support an unlimited number of cardholders and instant-issue government agency branches.
All Trans Financial Services Credit Union is the issuer, and FIS is the processor.
Winner: NuCard Prepaid Card
In South Africa, like many emerging economies, microlending plays an important role in funding individuals and entrepreneurs who may not have access to the banking system. Although the concept seems simple, the logistics and real-world challenges of disbursing relatively small sums—for example, loans of $250 to $1,000—can be overwhelming.
This is the situation Tutuka, a Johannesburg-based provider of prepaid software platforms, chose to address with its NuCard Prepaid Card, launched in March 2011 in conjunction with Altech NuPay. The card is a prepaid MasterCard card, co-branded and issued by microlenders throughout South Africa. Microlenders load funds to the card (rather than disburse cash) for use by loan recipients at the point of sale or ATMs.
Microlenders in South Africa operate in a mass market with locations in shopping malls, bus stations and stores. With a microlending market of more than $3 billion (2011), they’ve traditionally handled a huge amount of cash in unsecured locations, creating multiple security risks for themselves and their customers. Using the NuCard Prepaid Card, microlenders can keep less cash on hand, reducing the threat of criminal activity, which pleases South African regulators.
Because many microlending customers are often unbanked, NuCard may be their first step toward a formal banking relationship. The card also provides the convenience of managing loans via mobile phones and extending loans without a visit to the microlender’s location.