A financial company is stepping up their fiscal influence by initiating a free nationwide cash load network.
American Express (NYSE: AXP) has an opportunity for those who believe in a cash and carry method of payment. Today, Serve provides an alternative banking solution for those who are underserved by traditional banks while delivering some of the same benefits other American Express credit and charge card members hold, including purchase protection, roadside assistance and fraud protection, among others. In addition to the general American Express membership benefits, Serve added new features which include direct deposit, online bill pay, mobile check capture, personal financial management tools, and Reserve, which allows customers to put money aside for future expenses.
I spoke with Stefan Happ, senior vice president and general manager of U.S. payment options and he remarked that an immense rollout plan is underway and by the end of November, American Express Serve customers will be able to take cash to the register at more than 14,000 participating CVS/pharmacy and 7-Eleven stores and add it to their American Express Serve Account. This is made possible through a relationship with InComm and its Vanilla Reload Network. You can pick up a Serve card online at serve.com and at select CVS/pharmacy, Family Dollar, Office Depot, Walgreens and Duane Reade stores in the U.S. this fall for a one-time purchase price of $2.95.
For the tens of millions of consumers who are underserved by traditional financial institutions, we believe American Express offers a compelling alternative. Moving and managing your money is very easy to take for granted. We believe it should be a right, not a privilege." He further added to his remark, "For some, it is difficult to build financial success. Our company believes we have a comprehensive program with American Express Serve."
According to a recent study conducted by the FDIC and the U.S. Census Bureau, there are 70 million Americans who are underbanked or unbanked. The number that struck me was that 7.3 percent of adults reside in unbanked households and 51 million (21.7 percent of adults) in underbanked households.
According to a Javelin Strategy & Research study conducted in April of 2012, prepaid cards are distinctive in that they enable the financial independence of underserved populations, focusing on two key segments: the underbanked and young consumers.
Unfortunately, the traditional banking system is not easily accessible to large segments of the population, making managing money cumbersome and expensive for many,” said Dan Schulman, group president, Enterprise Growth at American Express. “We launched Serve two years ago with the simple idea that consumers needed a better way to move their money. Today, we've added a number of new features to make the management and movement of money more affordable and convenient for everyone.”
 2011 FDIC National Survey of unbanked and underbanked Households • September 2012 page 10