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Coopera prepaid card for Hispanics builds steam
DES MOINES, Iowa (2/3/12)--Eight credit unions will begin offering the Coopera Card--a reloadable Visa prepaid card built specifically for the Hispanic community.

Coopera is an Iowa-based economic development firm focusing on emerging markets.

The card is designed to provide financial institutions with a tool for attracting new members and earning additional interchange income.

The prepaid card gives Hispanic cardholders access to a secure financial management tool without fees for check-cashing, money order or money transfer services. A credit history is not required and alternative forms of identity are accepted to obtain the card. 

Credit unions that will offer the Coopera Card in 2012 include:

  • Amarillo (Texas) Community FCU;
  • United Services CU, Asheville, N.C.;
  • Beacon FCU, La Porte, Texas;
  • Kearney (Neb.) Eaton Employees FCU, Kearney, Neb.;
  • EECU, Fort Worth, Texas;
  • Greater Iowa CU, Ames, Iowa;
  • Des Moines (Iowa) Metro CU; and
  • Guardian CU, West Milwaukee, Wis. 

Prospective cardholders should inquire about membership status at the credit union because details may vary at each issuing credit union.

The Coopera Card was developed by Coopera in partnership with sister company and card processor The Members Group (TMG) to help credit unions ease members of the Hispanic community into the financial mainstream.

Secondary account holders can be added to each Coopera Card account to make money available to family within and outside the U.S. The cards can be used anywhere Visa debit cards are accepted. Funds can be loaded onto the card through direct deposit of wages, at an issuer's branch, online or at a Visa ReadyLink merchant.

Arna Reynolds, Amarillo CU president/CEO, said the Coopera Card is an effective tool in serving the Hispanic community.

"Many of the Hispanics in our community are foreign-born, first generation, so they lack experience with traditional financial services," Reynolds told the Texas Credit Union League (LoneStar Leaguer Feb. 2).  "I believe this product will help integrate them into the U.S. financial services system."

Offering a prepaid card to a segment of the population that is largely unbanked is both a more affordable and more secure option for members, Reynolds said.

"We see it all the time," she explained. "They get their paycheck, go down to the local check casher and pay a fee to cash their check.  If they have bills to pay, they might purchase money orders, and if the check casher doesn't offer remittances, they'll go somewhere else and pay the fee to wire money to family members abroad.  What's left of their paycheck will go in their back pocket, which poses a security risk."


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