By  Tue Sep 4, 2012

Banks Extend Hours, Benefits for Storm Victims: 5 Things to Know for the Week

Although Hurricane Isaac is gone, its aftermath continues to affect many Americans. Some have returned to damaged homes while others don’t have access to power. Banks understand the problems posed by the storm and they offering longer hours and certain benefits to customers in areas that were hit by Isaac.

  • Regions Bank launched its iPad application with much of the banking functions available through most tablet banking apps. Customers can check balances, pay bills, make transfers and locate branches and ATMs. Also, Regions introduced its cash-back program on the iPad — allowing customers to sign up for offers through the device..
  • Walmart is testing a new mobile checkout system — not a mobile payment system — that allows customers to scan their items with their smartphones. The idea is to speed up the checkout process. A store in Arkansas is currently testing the service with employees. With a successful turnout, consumers may soon have a more convenient way to shop for groceries — and probably more.
  • There’s a new prepaid card for recovering addicts — from booze to gambling to tattoos. Called the Next Step Card, it won’t work at lounges, casinos or most other naughty businesses. Also, it won’t allow users to withdraw cash, the easiest way to pay for questionable activities. Only time will tell whether the restrictions are effective at fighting addiction.
  • New data by Charles Schwab, a well-known fund and brokerage firm, found that more companies are offering a 401(k) matches to employees than before the 2008 financial crisis. “The bounce-back is a healthy sign for plan participants and employees alike,” according to Steven Anderson, head of Schwab Retirement Plan Services.
  • Americans who were affected by Hurricane Isaac last week are still encouraged to speak to bankers about fee waivers and special relief assistance. Chase, for example, is waiving all ATM, late and loan fees through the end of Tuesday.

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