The second keynote address at the 2008 ATA Convention & Expo was Will Sowell, vice president of prepaid products at GE Money. The presentation had the feel of a case study. Firstly, in analyzing the division’s strengths, it was realized that they excelled in the B-to-B-to-C arena (that is, providing services to other company’s customers). Furthermore, it was decided that the best course of action was to pursue a diversification strategy built around this strength.
Will shared this saga of the prepaid products division’s transition from a one product focus to one providing multiple offerings, thereby greatly increasing both the amount of business and rate of growth in the process. This multiproduct transformation was from providing private label credit cards (which they continue to do) to dual cards (that is, private label cards that also function as a major credit card). This move was in response to customer input that a dual purpose card would be desirable.
A later product addition was pre-paid cards, such as the Money Card for Wal-Mart. This was in response to consumers who have opted out of the banking system due to high fees. As a result, it was important that only “visible fees” be charged, such as per use, loading, and ATM fees, while avoiding “invisible fees” or the hidden fees that alienated the customer in the first place.
No transition proceeds flawlessly, so the advice is conduct small initial tests, so that any failures are small and occur early in the process. That paves the way for major successes later on.