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portland.bizjournals.com

portland business journal | june 22, 2012

TFG Card Solutions

Use of debit cards can fix paycheck problems By Maureen McGrain

OREGON ROOTS

Contributing writer

Issuing paper paychecks may soon be as antiquated as using a stand-alone fax machine. Companies looking to cut costs and reduce paper waste, including Wal-Mart Stores Inc., have made the move to loading employees’ wages on debit cards held by the employees. As the market for such prepaid debit cards matures, one Beaverton company is poised to make its own payday. TFG Card Solutions Inc.’s revenue grew 119 percent over the last three years, from $1.1 million in 2009 to more than $2.3 million last year. Companies have long pushed cathy cheney | portland business journal direct deposit, but that only Tom Secor, left, and Burke Rice favor paying wages on debit cards. works for employees who have reach nationally, adding a sales repretraditional checking accounts. sentative in New England to its staff of “There are 40 to 50 million workers who 16. TFG is also bolstering its social media are ‘unbanked,’ meaning they can’t get or presence and enhancing its mobile capawon’t get bank accounts. Fewer than 10 bilities, said Rice. percent of those workers have paycards As it stands, TFG today,” said TFG can send card balance President Tom Secor. alerts via text mes“If employers sage. The company knew what (such is looking to ramp up employees) have to other mobile banking go through to access options. their pay, they’d While Americans’ never issue another banking participation paycheck again.” has lagged, their thirst Secor founded TFG for technology is only in 2004, making it a Headquarters: Beaverton growing. According to veteran of the nascent a 2012 Nielsen survey, prepaid debit card 2011 employees: 16 nearly half of adults in industry. He spent the 2011 revenue: $2.34M the United States own first few years educat2009-11 revenue growth: 119.35% a smartphone. ing employers on As banks and paythe benefits of TFG’s roll services companies scramble to meet product, targeting large companies with this trend, the prepaid debit card market multiple locations and hourly workers should grow and consolidate. That could who don’t have bank accounts. mean acquisition opportunities or addiTFG’s first customers included Porttional partnership opportunities to reach land landscaper Teufel, Emerald Staffing, smaller companies, said Rice. Reser’s Fine Foods and Starbucks. Despite growing competition in the payJust as the company began to hit its card market, especially from large banks, stride, the economy tanked. At the same TFG’s executive team remains confident. time, the company’s startup capital ran Because of the independent company’s out and committed investors pulled sole focus on the payroll debit card, TFG back. can offer a personal touch that big banks The company made “significant cuts” cannot. to survive 2008, said Secor. TFG was able “We can focus on getting the fragile to tap into new capital sources in 2009 and consumer the information they need become profitable. That same year, Burke Rice joined the company as vice president. quickly,” versus being rerouted through a large institution, Rice said. “From there, things have just gone turbo,” Secor said. Now the company has expanded its portland@bizjournals.com | 503-274-8733

TFG Card Solutions Inc.

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TFG Card Solutions