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FDIC Federal Register Citations


July 15, 2004

Robert E. Feldman
Executive Secretary
Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation
550 17th Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20429

Attention: Comments/Legal ESS

Re: Definition of “Deposit”; Stored Value Cards
68 FR 20558 (April 16, 2004)

Dear Mr. Feldman:

America’s Community Bankers (“ACB”)1 is pleased to comment on the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation’s (“FDIC”) proposed rule that would clarify when funds underlying stored value cards will qualify as insurable “deposits.”2 What is determined to be a “deposit” is important under the Federal Deposit Insurance Act for assessment and deposit insurance purposes.

In 1996, the FDIC’s General Counsel’s Opinion No. 8 created a general framework for determining whether the funds underlying stored value cards are considered “deposits.”3 Over the past eight years, new stored value systems have been developed, and the FDIC believes that additional clarification is needed.

ACB Position

ACB supports the FDIC’s proposed rule. As a general matter, we believe that stored value products should be allowed to evolve without unnecessary regulatory interference.

Certain variations of stored value products are designed to be treated like cash, while others have characteristics of traditional deposit accounts. As a result, we believe that funds underlying stored value cards should be considered deposits only when a clear and unmistakable deposit is credited to the owner of an account. We believe that this logic should be applied to all regulatory aspects of stored value products (e.g. Regulation E, which implements the Electronic Funds Transfer Act, Regulation CC, which implements the Expedited Funds Availability Act, and the USA Patriot Act and its implementing regulations).
We also are concerned that imposing differential regulation on insured depository institutions and uninsured providers of stored value products would discourage innovation and could conceivably eliminate insured institutions as major participants in the development of stored value products.


Many community banks have been reluctant to enter the stored value market. Regulatory uncertainties persist regarding the application of Regulation E, Regulation CC, and the USA Patriot Act. Moreover, community banks must partner with third party vendors to make stored value products economically feasible. Many community banks are monitoring the stored value market, and we expect additional product development as the regulatory treatment of this product is addressed.

The proposal would address the following types of stored value card systems:

1. Accounts funded by a sponsoring company. In this type of stored value system, a sponsoring company issues stored value cards to cardholders in exchange for cash. The company places funds into an account at an insured depository institution for the purpose of making payments to merchants as the cardholders use the cards.

Under the proposal, the funds in such an account would be "deposits." The insured depositor would be the sponsoring company, and not the cardholders, unless the FDIC's existing requirements for "pass-through" insurance coverage are satisfied.

2. Funds received from cardholders or from others on their behalf in exchange for stored value cards. Under this arrangement, funds would be “deposits.” However, if the issuing institution maintains a “pooled reserve account” for all of the stored value cards it issues without maintaining separate records or sub accounts reflecting the amount owed to each cardholder, the funds would not be “deposits.”

3. Funds received from cardholders in exchange for stored value cards issued by a sponsoring company. In the case of funds received by an insured depository institution from cardholders in exchange for stored value cards issued by a sponsoring company and not issued by the insured depository (i.e. the insured depository institution serves as an agent of the sponsoring company in collecting funds and distributing cards), the funds:

Would be “deposits” if the depository institution forwards the funds to the sponsoring company or holds the funds for the sponsoring company. The funds would cease to be “deposits” when the institution forwards the funds to the sponsoring company or the company withdrawals the funds.
Would not be “deposits” if the depository institution has no obligation to forward or hold the funds (e.g. the depository institution purchases the cards from the sponsoring company and then resells the cards to the cardholders.)

4. Payroll cards. The proposal does not have a special provision dealing with “payroll cards.” Rather, the proposed rule would apply to all types of stored value bank cards. The proposed rule would clarify that, with one exception (where the insured depository issues the cards but does not maintain sub accounts or other records reflecting the amount of money owed to particular cardholders), funds underlying all three types of stored value cards would be classified as “deposits” and are thus insured by the FDIC. Where the underlying funds are maintained in an account belonging to an employer or card sponsor, the “deposits” are insurable to the employer/card sponsor and not to the employees/cardholders unless the requirements for “pass-through” insurance coverage are satisfied.

While the proposal does not establish any new disclosure requirements, the FDIC is concerned that some purchasers of stored value cards may not understand if the funds given to an insured depository in exchange for such cards are FDIC insured.

The proposed rule appropriately treats payroll cards and other types of stored value cards.

We believe that the proposal properly distinguishes between stored value products that are designed to be treated like cash and products that have characteristics of traditional deposit accounts. If there is no evidence that a stored value card represents account ownership at a depository institution, deposit insurance should not apply to an individual cardholder. Some stored value cards are designed to be the functional equivalent of cash and should be treated as such. In this circumstance, financial institutions do not maintain deposit account records, such as signature cards, that would enable the FDIC to determine whether each cardholder would be entitled to deposit insurance coverage in the event of a bank failure.

Employers often select payroll cards as a cash equivalent for day laborers and employees that do not have a bank account that can accept direct deposit. These cards are designed only to provide an alternative to a paycheck. They are not designed to function like a traditional deposit account that identifies a specific individual with a specific account number and account balance.

On the other hand, we believe that it is good public policy to provide deposit insurance to those stored value cards that mimic traditional deposit accounts. These types of arrangements clearly attribute funds to a particular cardholder. For example, issuing banks maintain account ledgers that relate to the institution’s deposit taking function as well as records of the funds that belong to each cardholder. In addition, the cardholder’s name may be printed on the face of the card, the card may have a PIN or signature based security feature, the cardholder may be able to make additional deposits to the card, use the card at an ATM, or use the card to pay for goods at merchants that accept traditional credit and debit cards.

We believe that providing deposit insurance to these types of accounts may help facilitate trust between the unbanked and the banking industry. Those unbanked individuals may someday become conventional bank customers.

The proposed definition of “stored value card” should be expanded.

The proposal defines a stored value card as “a device that enables the cardholder to transfer the underlying funds to a merchant at the merchant’s point of sale terminal.” Historically, stored value cards could only be used at a specific merchant; however, advances in technology now allow cardholders to withdraw funds from an ATM and transfer funds from one card to another.

Financial service providers will continue to develop new ways to transfer funds associated with stored value products. Accordingly, we believe that the FDIC should define “stored value card” in a manner that is sufficiently broad to include future products. This would avoid frequently revising the rule to account for new innovations. We suggest that the FDIC define stored value card as “a device that enables the cardholder to transfer or withdraw the underlying funds.”

It would be reasonable to require disclosure with respect to whether stored value cards are FDIC insured.

Community banks face mounting regulatory burden requirements, and ACB strongly opposes unnecessary regulation that would stifle product development. Because technology will evolve and market forces will change, the stored value card arena should be permitted to develop without unnecessary regulatory interference.

ACB believes that it is reasonable to require disclosure with respect to whether a stored value card is federally insured. It is important for depository institutions to have the option of offering both insured and uninsured stored value products. Likewise, it is vital that customers understand whether the value underlying a stored value card is insured. We believe that disclosing whether a stored value card FDIC insured is a quid pro quo for the ability to offer a variety of insured and uninsured products.

Studies have shown that consumers do not read the documents financial institutions are already required to provide with respect to privacy, funds availability, and other consumer issues. As a result, we suggest we suggest that any disclosure requirement pertaining to stored value cards could be met by printing “treat this the same as you would cash” or “this product is not FDIC insured” or “FDIC insured” on the card.

In addition, requiring a basic disclosure would be consistent with existing regulatory expectations. The OCC already expects national banks to take adequate steps to adequately inform consumers of their rights and responsibilities when using stored value cards, including whether the card is insured by the FDIC. Similarly, the federal banking agencies expect financial institutions to inform to customers that nondeposit investment products such as stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and annuities, are not FDIC insured.


ACB looks forward to working with the FDIC as important policy considerations regarding stored value products are explored. We reiterate our position that any regulation pertaining to stored value cards should distinguish between those products that are designed to function as a cash substitute and those that have deposit-like characteristics.

Should you have any questions, please contact the undersigned at 202-857-3121 or via email at or Krista Shonk at 202-857-3187 or via email at


Charlotte M. Bahin
Senior Vice President
Regulatory Affairs

1 America's Community Bankers represents the nation's community banks. ACB members, whose aggregate assets total more than $1 trillion, pursue progressive, entrepreneurial and service-oriented strategies in providing financial services to benefit their customers and communities.
2 69 Fed. Reg. 20558 (April 16, 2004).
3 61 Fed. Reg. 40490 (August 2, 1996).

Last Updated 07/19/2004

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