NetSpend, Western Union to partner on co-branded prepaid card in U.S.

April 26, 2014 

TSYS subsidary, NetSpend, said it plans to develop and market a co-branded prepaid card with Western Union that should be available later this year in the U.S.

NetSpend, based in Austin, Texas, did not release the features of the card and its pricing. But it plans to use its payment platform and distribute the cards through a network of 70,000 distribution locations and 130,000 reload points.

Englewood, Colo.-based Western Union operates a money transfer network that includes banks, national retail and grocery chains and independent locations. Founded in 1851 as a telegraph company, it also was well known at one time for its telegram service. That was discontinued less than a decade ago.

In 2013, Western Union completed 242 million consumer transactions worldwide, moving $82 billion between consumers, along with 459 million business payments, according to the firm's website.

"Combining the strengths of Western Union's global brand and expertise in moving money with NetSpend's deep prepaid knowledge and unique product capabilities, creates an incredible opportunity for us to better serve an underserved market," Dan Henry, chief executive officer of NetSpend, said in a statment.

There are about 68 million Americans who are financially underserved or lack access to traditional forms of banking, according to the Center for Financial Services Innovation (CFSI). More and more consumers are turning to prepaid cards to spend, save and manage their money, with the FDIC estimating that nearly one in five households used a prepaid card.

Columbus-based TSYS, a global credit-card processor, purchased NetSpend last summer for $1.4 billion, making it the largest acquisition by TSYS in its history.

Carmike Cinemas to open Tiger 13 complex Thursday in Opelika, Ala.

Carmike Cinemas said Friday it will hold the grand opening Thursday of its new Tiger 13 movie complex in Opelika, Ala..

The theater, which also serves Auburn, will open at 7 p.m. (CDT) with Marvel's "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" in 3-D and in Carmike's signature, large-screen "BigD" auditorium.

All patrons who visit the Tiger 13 during the opening weekend will be able to purchase a medium drink and popcorn for $5, the company said.

The new 13-screen theater seats more than 2,800 guests in stadium seating, with high-back rocking seats, retractable armrests and cup holders. The BigD auditorium in Opelika seats 580 patrons. All auditoriums in Tiger 13 include large wall-to-wall screens, DLP digital projection and digital surround sound.

The theater's lobby contains multiple concession areas featuring self-serve Coca-Cola Freestyle drink centers, which pour more than 100 customized fountain drink varieties.

One-stop ticketing is included in the lobby, allowing moviegoers to purchase their tickets and refreshments at the same transaction point.

The new complex also provides special services for visually and hearing impaired patrons using "Sony Closed Captioning" glasses, as well as descriptive and amplified audio, the company said.

Carmike management has set a goal of operating 300 theaters, with 3,000 screens, through new theater openings and acquisition of other movie-theater operators. It currently has 251 theaters and 2,654 screens in 37 states.

Carmike also said recently it plans to open a 10-screen entertainment complex featuring its large-screen "Big D" auditorium in Yulee, Fla., serving Amelia Island, Fernandina Beach and surrounding communities. Construction should begin this month.

Carmike sets first-quarter earnings release for May 5

Carmike Cinemas has finally set the date for release of its first-quarter earnings report. It will be May 5 after the stock markets close.

Wall Street analysts surveyed by research firm Thomson Financial are currently expecting the Columbus-based movie-theater chain to report earnings of 2 cents per share, improved from a loss of 20 cents per share in the first quarter of 2013.

Projections for the second quarter (April-June) are for Carmike to earn 45 cents per share as the summer movie blockbuster season explodes into high gear.

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