Green Dot Corp.’s diversification from a pure prepaid card management company into banking and other financial-services niches is driving direct deposits into its card accounts and spurring revenue-generating payment volume, according to the company’s latest financial report.
Pasadena, Calif.-based Green Dot said Wednesday that fourth-quarter purchase volume on its cards rose 10% to $6.2 billion from the year-earlier quarter’s $5.65 billion. That increase came despite the active card base growing only 0.6% to 5.29 million.
Green Dot chief executive Steve Streit explained that seeming disparity in a late-afternoon conference call with analysts. Many customers who formerly might have purchased several cards over the course of a quarter to load wages and then make purchases or pay bills are now enrolling for direct deposit, he said. In fact, the number of active accounts enrolled for direct deposits rose 10%. These direct-deposit customers are using their cards frequently, he said. Weekly active accounts on cards issued by the company’s Green Dot Bank were 8.5% higher in 2018’s fourth quarter over a year earlier.
“While the mix shift towards direct deposit and more engaged customers is clearly better for profitability and growth, the lower churn also means fewer accounts issued to short-term customers, which weighs down on unit sales and therefore the quarterly active-account metric,” Streit said, according to a Thomson Reuters StreetEvents call transcript.
About 50% of Green Dot’s customers now use direct deposit, analyst Robert Napoli of Chicago-based investment firm William Blair & Co. estimated in a Thursday report.
More purchases pushed interchange revenue 9% higher year-over-year to $75.2 million.
Green Dot got into the banking business in 2011 when it bought Utah-based Bonneville Bank. Now known as Green Dot Bank, the institution enables Green Dot to issue cards directly rather than through partners, and is the foundation of the company’s “banking-as-a-service” platform (BaaS) that includes a mobile app.
Green Dot is now planning to leverage the platform through a product for young adults called Gen Z MODE, for mobile-only, digital-everything, according to Streit. He also said the company is working to enhance the BaaS platform’s attractiveness to small businesses. He reported that Intuit Inc., developer of the QuickBooks accounting application, will use the platform to enable small businesses using the Intuit Desktop Payroll service to pay employees via the Green Dot-issued Intuit Turbo PayCard, eliminating the need for payroll checks.
In all, Green Dot reported fourth-quarter operating revenues of $237.8 million, a 12% increase from a year earlier. Net income rose 17% to $14.3 million.