Kelowna’s Prepaid Credit Card Guru
There‘s a Kelowna link to the pre-paid credit cards that are making a splash in Canada and the U.S.
“I‘m Kelowna born and raised, and now live in Toronto for business. But I come back to Kelowna as often as possible and my parents still live there,” said David Eason of pre-paid credit card company, Berkeley Solutions.
Eason, who graduated from KLO Secondary in 1988, is in partnership with Scotiabank to offer corporate cards to LG electronics and cellphones and Nissan car dealerships. “This is strictly a corporate card at this point,” Eason said. “LG is using it as a sales incentive for salespeople at electronics stores and Nissan is giving the cards to car buyers pre-loaded with their cash back.” For instance, LG has issued cards to Telus stores‘ employees. Whenever they sell an LG Shine cellphone, the card is loaded with a bonus. The LG-branded Visa card can then be used wherever Visa is accepted – virtually everywhere.
In Nissan‘s case, the buyers of Rogue, Altima, Sentra and Versa cars are given their $1,500 cash back on a Nissan-branded Visa. “Nissan customers are constantly reminded every time they use the card of the Nissan name and that they got this bonus from the company,” said Eason.
“The LG cards are a great way to reward employees for innovation and exceptional sales.”
After Eason graduated from high school in Kelowna, he got an arts degree at UBC Vancouver and an MBA in Toronto. After working for Deloitte Consulting in Toronto for three years, he got the itch to have his own business. That‘s when he met Jonathan Hamburg, who had a fledgling pre-paid Visa card company called Berkeley Solutions. The pair originally struck a deal with Alabama National Bank to provide reloadable, pre-paid cards three years ago.
“Pre-paid cards have been popular in the U.S. for a while now because 20 per cent of adults are unbanked, meaning they don‘t really have a relationship with a bank where they could get a regular credit card,” Eason said. In such cases a reloadable, pre-paid card offers the convenience and acceptance of a credit card without the traditional application process and credit screening. However, the cards in the U.S. had a charge per transaction and loading fees that meant they never became mainstream.
Most Canadians have a bank, therefore have access to a traditional bank-issued Visa or Mastercard. That‘s why pre-paid credit cards haven‘t caught on much here. That‘s also why Eason and Scotiabank saw the opportunity for corporate cards in Canada. “We see it expanding to more corporations and possibly to the public for teens, new Canadians and the underbanked,” Eason said. Berkeley approached Scotiabank with the idea last year to get the corporate program going. “They were excited to hear from us,” he said. “It‘s a way for them to get their Scotiabank Visa product out there more and gain additional customers.”