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June 17, 2014

There Are No "Quiet Exits" in the Payment Game

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by Ron Daly

By now, you've likely heard the news that the Approved Card, the prepaid financial product promoted by none other than Suze Orman, is shutting down. You probably remember a few years ago when much ruckus was raised over Orman's endorsement of this high-fee product.  Now, Orman is seeking to exit the payment space "quietly", according to the New York Times.

Trouble is, there's no such thing as a "quiet exit" in this space. Who would expect silence after such a loud and hotly-debated entrance? Suze claimed her card would be the beginning of a revolution. 

From The Daily Beast

Even so, the Money Navigator flap was a minor blip compared to the storm Orman ignited in January 2012. That’s when, declaring a “financial revolution,” she launched the Approved Card, a prepaid debit card backed by the Bancorp Bank, the top issuer of prepaid cards in the U.S. “You can always bank on me,” Orman announced during the accompanying promotional blitz.

Well, it would appear the revolution has come to a bitter end. And as far as "always banking" on Orman? That's officially false as of July 1, when the cards will stop working. As for all the critics Suze called "idiots" and publicly shamed for questioning her judgement, I imagine they feel vindicated when they read these words in the New York Times

It is unclear exactly why Ms. Orman’s venture is ending. A spokesman for Bancorp Bank, which ran the back-end systems for Approved, declined to comment, citing a policy of not making statements about its partners. Ms. Orman could not be reached for comment. The website for the card does not appear to have been updated recently, and as of Monday night, had no mention of the card’s status.

If that wasn't enough, my attempts at reaching the Approved Card website turned up an error page. Seems as though someone doesn't want to say anything...which says a lot.

I'm not trying to diminish Ms. Orman's record as a financial adviser; many people adore her and trust her advice implicitly. But I imagine she's going to have a heck of a time explaining what went wrong with the Approved Card to its now-unbanked users...if she bothers explaining at all.

There are no "quiet exits" in the game of payment and finance. If you don't want to do the talking, don't worry - the consumers will do it for you. 

Comments

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Thank goodness this fiasco is over- no more "Bank of Suze Orman". Suze will likely put a "spin" that she tried to "save" her minions from the banking industry. The CFPB is seeking controls on Prepaid cards as well. My opinion is she likely never understood the economics of payment cards and was more interested seeking to line her pockets. It's not about "People first, then money, then things"...it's all about "Suze first, then Suze, then Suze". We all learned our lesson with Suze- especially moi!

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