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Saturday, April 19, 2014

QT debit card program ending

BY BILL WILSON
The Wichita Eagle

A QuikTrip spokesman says the convenience store chain is surprised and disappointed by the sudden failure of the company's one-year dip into the debit card business.

Tempo Payments of San Mateo, Calif., a debit card network offering co-branded debit cards that can be used on a major payment network, will cease operations Friday, QT spokesman Mike Thornbrugh said.

As a result, QT debit card holders will have to quit using them on July 15. Holders were notified in Thursday e-mails.

"It's back to the drawing board, and we'll figure out our next move," Thornbrugh said.

The Tempo web-based program enabled merchants to offer personalized debit cards and offered a web portal for consumers to apply for and activate cards, along with detailed purchase and rewards records.

QT signed on in August, offering a brown QT Rewards debit card under the Discover flag.

Thornbrugh said QT card holders will receive all the cash rewards due from their use of the card at other merchants. The failure, though, doesn't necessarily mark the end of QT's move into branded debit cards.

"The program worked for us," Thornbrugh said. "We'll regroup and try to figure out another method.... Something that's long-lasting, verifiable and saves our consumer some money is something we're all for."

QT's entry into debit cards grew out of the controversy surrounding credit card fees paid to major banks and the rising price of gasoline.

"What we were trying to do was offset the credit card costs we have to pay the major guys," Thornbrugh said. "If we can save money that way and pass the savings on to the consumer, we'd rather do that than pay Visa, Mastercard or American Express 2 or 5 cents. We'd rather have the consumer take the money off the gasoline."

Reach Bill Wilson at 316-268-6290 or bwilson@wichitaeagle.com.

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