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Prepaid Payments in Real Time

Mar  16 
Keith Michael  Vice President, Product Management, Prepaid Solutions, Fiserv 

From payroll to incentives, payment flexibility addresses real-world situations

Nobody likes waiting for their money, especially when they need immediate access to funds. Payment flexibility is now a reality – and an expectation – thanks to significant mobile, cloud computing and risk management innovations that eliminate the waiting game for consumers and businesses.

Waiting two weeks for a paycheck to be mailed or a reward or incentive payment to be available in your account is frustrating and outdated. New technology is moving quickly to create innovative, leading-edge opportunities to distribute payments through new channels and across new platforms.

Employers Enable More Payroll Platforms

That transformation is taking payroll services and distribution to the next level. Off-cycle payments, one-time mobile and digital payouts, and disbursements to prepaid cards are just a few of the innovative options available to large enterprises and small-business owners. These payments provide greater flexibility to execute payroll and disbursements and are easy to integrate and manage.

For example, businesses are making every day payday using capabilities provided by Money Network®, a subsidiary of Fiserv and Instant Financial's Earned Wage Access. Employees can access their wages as they are earned, rather than waiting for a weekly, biweekly, or monthly payday.

Employees can control when they get paid regular wages and additional payments, including tips as they are earned. That's important in today's competitive job market. When employees have access to easy, prompt payments for wages and tips, it's likely to improve their satisfaction, loyalty and retention.

New technology is moving quickly to create innovative, leading-edge opportunities to distribute payments through new channels and across new platforms.

The Booming Freelancer Market

Contract and gig work are becoming more common, and freelancers often need different payment terms and delivery modes, including instant payments. Real-time payments keep the business relationship strong and deliver assurances for both sides; freelancers know they will get paid promptly and businesses know they can issue payments with minimal risk to their larger payroll operations.

Offering instant payments becomes a differentiator as businesses compete to hire the best workers in a challenging staffing market. Gig workers inherently have choice and flexibility regarding where and when they work. The ability for one rideshare company to pay drivers instantly compared to one that distributes pay on a weekly cycle can influence their choice.

Rewarding and Incentivizing Employees

Especially in light of the "Great Resignation," it's important to reward and incentivize top performers – and do so in a timely manner. Incentives recognize those who rise above the rest and are pivotal to long-term employee retention strategies.

Using prepaid cards to distribute incentives to employees provides flexibility, ease and choice for recipients. For example, a bonus for high performance could be distributed to an open-loop prepaid card during a team meeting on a Friday morning, enabling an employee to use those funds for happy hour after work or a ballgame that weekend.

Transforming payment distribution is increasingly vital to businesses and consumers, especially in today's always-on, need-it-now culture.

Disbursements in Response to Crisis

Flexible payments can be indispensable in a crisis. The ability to quickly move money took on new urgency during the pandemic, when financial support became a critical means of helping individuals, families and communities in need. Many government organizations were tasked with infusing money back into the economy to stabilize households and stimulate the economy.

For example, the state of Hawaii partnered with Fiserv to design and roll out the Hawaii Restaurant Card (HRC) program, an economic stimulus initiative supported by Federal CARES Act funds. The program was fully implemented and ready to launch within a matter of weeks, giving eligible unemployment insurance claimants in Hawaii $500 prepaid cards. By routing funds to residents on a card usable only at island-based restaurants, the state also supported the struggling restaurant industry, stimulating economic activity throughout the state's food supply chain.

The HRC program disbursed more than $75 million directly to Hawaiian residents, helping nearly 150,000 unemployed individuals and families with food assistance and creating more than 1.7 million transactions at local businesses. In 60 days, the program had an economic multiplier effect of more than $151 million and generated nearly $9 million in state tax revenue. The program also created or helped retain 1,162 jobs and assisted more than 4,200 restaurants and businesses.

A Gateway to Financial Literacy

When individuals can intuitively receive payments through a mobile app or web experience it can close the financial literacy gap. Digital and mobile innovations have created a new dynamic for individuals who might be unbanked or underbanked. Add in flexible payroll, and individuals now have more influence and control in their personal money management enabling them to seamlessly allocate funds for the things they want for themselves and their families.

Transforming payment distribution is increasingly vital to businesses and consumers, especially in today's always-on, need-it-now culture. We operate in a digital-first world, yet some businesses still issue paper checks – a method that poses inherent risks. Alternative payment distribution options offer greater protection by monitoring and detecting fraud before it affects employers and employees.

Learn how Money Network can reinvent your payroll delivery, disbursements, and rewards and incentives processes to optimize costs while giving consumers freedom to access and manage money with prepaid cards.