Prepaid card industry searching for first lobbyist

The unbanked masses will soon have representation in Washington.

The Network Branded Prepaid Card Association (NBPCA) hopes to have its first in-house lobbyist by September, a spokeswoman for the group said.

The New Jersey-based trade association has retained outside lobbying help since being formed more than six years ago but is now looking for a permanent, in-house advocate to lobby in Washington.


“The growth of the trade association membership over the years has allowed us to add a dedicated governmental affairs function, and we look forward to continuing our strong relationship with policymakers,” said spokeswoman Crystal Wright. “We hope to have the position filled by the end of September.”

Branded prepaid cards are often used by unbanked or under-banked consumers, who can load paychecks or certain benefits onto the products — emblazoned with a the logo of a credit card company like Visa, American Express or MasterCard — and use them like traditional debit cards, except they are not connected to a bank account.

NBPCA says the cards have fraud and loss protections and “help the consumer control their budget and avoid interest charges, running up debt and overdraft fees.”

The prepaid card group is looking for someone with “six to eight years of relevant experience” in a congressional office or government relations position and the “ability to influence and direct business and financial services trade coalitions,” according to a job listing that appeared online last week.

Among other responsibilities, the person “will lead the association in its core effort to drive the policy agenda around legislative and regulatory issues and opportunities of the prepaid card sector in Washington, D.C.,” while working with the group’s management and “retained advocacy consultants.”

NBPCA has paid two firms more than $2.5 million to lobby on its behalf since 2008. Joi Sheffield and the firm Sheffield Brothers has lobbied for the group from the beginning, while the association hired Timothy R. Rupli & Associates the following year. Lobbying records show that the group recently severed ties with Rupli.

Before the trade group’s second annual Power of Prepaid Conference in June, NBPCA President Kirsten Trusko said it “believes it’s imperative to connect high-level industry and government leaders for frank, in-person discussions … for the greater good of all involved, and our constituents.”

Attendees at the conference included Reps. Bill Huizenga (R-Mich.), Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.), both members of the House Financial Services Committee, and officials from the Treasury Department, the Federal Reserve, the Department of Homeland Security and the Justice Department.