In Iowa, card processing company The Members Group partnered with Coopera Consulting to produce the Coopera Card, a pre-paid, reloadable Visa card geared specifically towards the Hispanic community.
“Many Hispanics avoid traditional financial services due to a lack of traditional identification documents, language barriers or a mistrust of financial institutions,” said Miriam De Dios, vice president of Coopera, to the website cuinsight.com. “Reloadable pre-paid cards are among the most effective ways to introduce Hispanic community members to a community-based financial institution.”
The Coopera Card will offer cardholders secured access to financial services, such as money orders and check cashing, without having to pay a fee. Eligibility to carry the card is not contingent upon credit history, nor is the applicant required to provide a taxpayer identification number.
“We view the Coopera Card as a way to ease our Hispanic members into the financial mainstream,” said Arna Reynolds, CEO of the Amarillo Community FCU in Texas, an early adopter of the card, to cuinsight.com. “A reloadable card does not allow a cardholder to spend more than he has, yet he isn’t operating on a cash basis.”
The hope is that community banks and credit unions will consider the Coopera Card to be a useful tool that can be used to attract members of the Hispanic community. Additionally, the Coopera Card will bring in more interchange revenue for the banks, something which will be appealing as lenders attempt to offset losses as a result of the debit interchange fee cap.
“Affordable prepaid cards with transparent pricing have the potential to become a bridge to mainstream banking services for many Hispanic families otherwise priced out of traditional bank accounts,” said Janis Bowdler, director of the National Council of La Raza’s Wealth-Building Policy Project, according to cuinsight.com. “Our research with Hispanic consumers revealed a high appreciation for the budgeting and control that prepaid cards can offer.”
Individuals carrying a Coopera Card can load it with funds by going to the issuer’s branch, on-line, or by using their wages via direct deposit. The card can be used anywhere Visa is accepted, and cash can be withdrawn from the card using any ATM branded with Visa`s logo. For individuals with family in Latin America, the Coopera Card allows for secondary cardholders to be attached to each account, which provides an inexpensive, safe way for primary cardholders to allow family members in distant locales access to money.