Feb 11, 2013 Sean Albert
Prepaid cards are a growing trend in alternative credit options these days. Businesses of all sizes are using the popular means of payment in new ways that are lifting largely debilitated demographics across the country.
Prepaid cards can hold meaningful transactions
One young company based in the United States illustrates more ways to utilize prepaid cards than making average purchases. 123 English Mobile has recently begun allowing access to its paid mobile application through the cash-to-credit devices.
Founder Maximiliano Lobos said the ability of immigrants in particular to access the application through a prepaid card, which works like a debit or ACH card, is vital to their success and basic survival in the U.S. over the next few years.
Lobos has run his popular YouTube channel 123 Ingles for half a decade and has been teaching Spanish-speaking people how to speak English over the platform. He asserts he has seen success in immigrants hoping to become more accustomed to American culture, and he believes access to his program through prepaid cards is essential to the continued progress of the Hispanic community.
A company with similar altruistic roots aims to assist another specific demographic, but this one knows no borders in regards to race, sex or financial standing. New York Daily News reports the Next Step card is targeted towards recovering addicts who can benefit from tight financial restrictions during recovery.
Eric Dresdale, a co-founder of the electronic payment company, told the source that although addiction can surpass most limits of financial realities, recovering addicts who open an account with Next Step will benefit from the limits the company sets.
"The truth is, if someone wants to buy drugs they will find a way," he said. "But we act as a hurdle from achieving that goal."
Dresdale and his business partners - all recovered from some type of substance abuse - believe struggling users will find the alternative financial service worth the nearly $10 it costs to begin and $14.95 monthly fee to continue membership.
Innovation in a new industry
Alternative credit services like the 123 English Mobile access card and the Next Step card show moves toward a positive direction for the prepaid credit industry.
In the case of the Next Step card, Dr. Paul Hockemeyer affirms such programs can truly benefit families and communities by asserting ground rules where other forms of credit cannot.
"I think it's a great tool to teach patients boundaries and limits," he told the Daily News.
And although these companies have similar humanitarian foundations, Next Step and 123 English Mobile have one major difference in that the addiction-recovery card is accessible to consumers who have the means to open a bank account regardless of their personal problems. 123 English Mobile's accessibility through prepaid cards targets a demographic that is largely unable to reach such levels of financial stability in the U.S., whether that be due to language barriers or financial means.
Lobos' tech company hopes to inspire less fortunate Hispanic Americans to achieve what a former user named Veronica did. The woman emailed the entrepreneur before he announced 123 Mobile's prepaid plan, detailing her struggle to learn English and become a U.S. citizen because of it. She said the strides she made using Lobos' techniques put her in a position where she was able to achieve citizenship and finally reconnect with relatives in Columbia over the holidays.
Access to information and financial control are the first trends branching from traditional prepaid card usage, and as the popularity of these alternative credit devices increase, more are sure to surface over the coming year.