NEW YORK -- The prepaid industry is moving beyond gift cards and phone-related services, said speakers at the Prepaid Markets Expo held here recently.
e, a prepaid products and services provider based in Miami.
A value-pack approach to prepaid services is one possibility, Sancho told attendees. She described the purchase of discounted haircuts or dental services through an interactive kiosk at a retailer as a possible future development.
Speaking on the same panel, Tim McCallum, who is the director of new product and business development for Dallas-based 7-Eleven, advocated for more aggressive innovation. "You have to innovate. True retailers innovate," McCallum said, referring to 7-Eleven's unrelenting development of prepaid services in recent years. His company has "loftier" long-term goals, he revealed.
"Our goal is to perpetuate the elimination of cash in our society," McCallum said. While that vision may seem advanced, he said back when 7-Eleven started, the convenience store format hadn't been heard of either.
To achieve that goal, McCallum said retailers and service providers must establish a convenient system that makes it easier for consumers to access funds. He discussed a future where consumers can check their account balance on a personal keychain reader -- technology already available in parts of Asia -- and pay the baby-sitter by swiping his or her card through the same device.
The category of prepaid services has been the fastest-growing one for 7-Eleven for several years. The company launched its self-service financial services V-Com kiosks earlier this year with an eye toward these larger concepts, McCallum said in another session at the conference. 7-Eleven started its prepaid services years ago with gift cards, too.
Walter Paulsen, vice president of Safeway Marketing Services, Safeway, Pleasanton, Calif., said he didn't share McCallum's vision of a cashless society. However, the kinds of innovations the convenience retailer has implemented and discussed are positive -- as long as they stay focused on solving real problems for consumers, Paulsen said.