Magazine article American Banker

BlueBird and Liquid Don't Scare NetSpend's CEO

Magazine article American Banker

BlueBird and Liquid Don't Scare NetSpend's CEO

Article excerpt

Byline: Sean Sposito

Walmart's (WMT) Bluebird account a which the retailer is launching with credit card giant American Express (AXP) a and JPMorgan Chase's (JPM) Liquid prepaid card are both potential disruptors that threaten traditional prepaid card companies' profits.

But Dan Henry, the chief executive of card marketer NetSpend Holdings, isn't reacting to either like you might expect.

"My first reaction is: Fantastic," he says. "They are going to start spending tens of millions a day educating everyone in America about a prepaid card."

Henry was a keynote speaker Wednesday at the 20th Annual ATM, Debit & Prepaid Forum.

And he quickly derided the Bluebird account, a nearly fee-less prepaid alternative that looks similar to a checking account. The accounts aren't FDIC-insured, he says, so Walmart and American Express cannot load Social Security checks or other government funds on to those cards.

"In my opinion, they just alienated 40, 50 percent of that total available market," he says. "If you work for the Department of Defense, you can't get your paycheck on that card."

But consumer education is a big piece of bringing customers to prepaid cards.

It's not a stretch of the imagination that customers that first learn of prepaid after using JPMorgan's Liquid card could eventually become NetSpend customers.

"I don't think [Henry] is blowing smoke," says Larry Berlin, a vice president and research analyst for First Analysis. …

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