Are Check Cashers Relevant in a Digital World? PLS President Bob Wolfberg Says "Yes"

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Bob Wolfberg, co-founder of Chicago-based PLS Financial Services which operates PLS Check Cashers in seven states, believes that check cashers play a vital role in giving consumers easy, affordable access to the digital economy. Bob Wolfberg has seen his customers migrate from cash to more sophisticated e-commerce consumers using direct deposit, debit cards and other forms of digital payments. "PLS has always been on the forefront of converting paper to cash and cash to paper," says Wolfberg, who notes that PLS is helping customers bridge the "digital divide" every day.

Bob Wolfberg has been on the frontlines of the rapidly changing world of retail financial services since 1997. As co-founder of Chicago-based PLS Financial Services which operates PLS Check Cashers in seven states, Bob Wolfberg has seen his customers migrate from cash to more sophisticated e-commerce consumers using direct deposit, debit cards and other forms of digital payments. "PLS has always been on the forefront of converting paper to cash and cash to paper. Now, PLS is also bridging the digital divide. We've added e-payment capabilities so that our customers will have easy, affordable access to the digital economy," says Wolfberg, who is Co-President of PLS with his brother, Dan Wolfberg. "PLS is now the leader in converting digital information to cash and vice versa."

According to Wolfberg, "The market is changing and we've seen many of our customers become more comfortable with electronic payments." He notes that many employers and government agencies prefer to pay with direct deposit, and online shopping or bill payment requires a debit or credit card. For the 28 million "unbanked" consumers in the US, participation in the digital economy was nearly impossible without a bank account and a credit card. So PLS Check Cashers responded with new products, like its branded PLS Visa Prepaid Card, to give its customers options for sending and receiving electronic payments.

PLS introduced the PLS Visa Prepaid Card in late 2006. Basically, customers can convert their cash into a prepaid Visa card, which gives them convenience and security with no monthly bills or hidden fees. Customers can even elect to have their paycheck deposited directly into their PLS Visa account, and can use the card for shopping, bill payment and ATM withdrawals. Wolfberg is especially proud of the 3% APR, "no fee/no minimum balance" savings account feature of the card. In early 2007, PLS Check Cashers launched PLS Xpress Benefits, a service which allows customers to receive affordable, convenient direct deposit of government benefits payments.

For PLS Check Cashers, business has been booming in recent years. Wolfberg credits the new products and services for the growth, along with high-quality customer service and convenient, easily accessible locations. He also notes that over 40% of PLS customers have traditional bank accounts, but find that PLS service and pricing is far better than bank offerings. "If you're working second or third shift, it's hard to get to the bank during regular business hours. And if you can get there, they sock you with all sorts of hidden fees. Most of our locations never close, and our pricing is transparent and affordable."

Customers have responded well to the new PLS Check Cashers products, and Bob Wolfberg expects to see more innovations in the future. "PLS Check Cashers has more than 100 neighborhood locations, so we really see how our customers live and how they take care of their finances. We'll always be a convenient, safe place to cash checks - no question about that. But we're also ready to provide new products and services to adapt to our changing economy."

ABOUT PLS FINANCIAL SERVICES, INC.
Chicago-based PLS Financial Services operates more than 300 financial service centers in Alabama, Arizona, California, Illinois, Indiana, Mississippi, New York, Texas and Wisconsin, with more than 2,500 employees. It is one of the largest privately-held organizations in the check cashing industry and ranks among the top five Western Union money transfer networks in America. PLS is a member of the Financial Service Centers of America (FiSCA). The PLS Financial Service brands include: PLS Loan Store, which provides consumer micro-loans; PLS Check Cashers, which offers check cashing, money transfer services, money orders and utility bill payment; PLS Vehicle Registration; and PLS Tax Service.

More information about PLS is available from Barb Wolf at PLS Financial Services, 300 North Elizabeth St., Chicago, IL 60607, telephone 312-491-7888.

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