Doctors Without Borders sent me this bill-stuffer with an offer for an affinity "debit card." The key innovation is that I can connect this card to any US checking account: I would not need to change banks. If consumers get used to this idea, the implications could be fairly wide reaching for banks and the loyalty of their checking account customers.
This service, currently being sold by Tempo and First Bank & Trust, would allow any non-bank organization to issue debit cards. Types of organizations could include high schools, universities, non-profits, or for-profit companies.
In fact, using this service, a company could issue loyalty points that would be portable. Similar to airline and hotel points, the consumer could leave his/her bank without leaving behind the accumulated rewards balance. Companies from Coke to CVS offer loyalty points outside of the banking realm, and this seems like a fairly useful extension: credit card and debit card partnerships are potentially a big nut to crack. Those credit/debit partnerships would also require alignment with a specific bank (e.g. Chase), which would naturally exclude some of your members.
With banking reform, it's not too likely that this will bring a deluge of new direct mail, but it I think it is otherwise pretty interesting. It's the first time I've seen of this, although there have apparently been pockets of upstream affinity debit for a little over a year.