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Faster Payments, faster payroll, faster progress

With the eventual rise in restaurant hiring accelerating at a steady rate, so too is the need for faster payments which support a traditionally gig- and cash-intensive workforce in pace with modern expectation and preference. But although the re-establishment of the service industry (and subsequent rise in demand for faster payments) workforce was expected, experts are pointing to new opportunities for businesses to enhance their employee experience and, perhaps, gain a leading edge among their labor-hungry competition.

“We do a lot of business in the hospitality industry, especially with QSRs (quick-service restaurants), but also food production and retail, and they’re really challenged with hiring right now,” said David Smith, Head of Prepaid National Sales & Relationship Management at U.S. Bank. “What we’re learning from listening to our clients is that they need holistic money movement solutions, not just customer-to-server tips, but with payroll and incentives,” he said, adding “we’re learning that whole industry actually doesn’t have to be so cash-intensive.”

To further compound the issue of cash and paper-based compensation delivery, business leaders are targeting the operational costs of legacy money movement.

“It costs a lot of money to issue and deliver a paper check,” Smith said. “Depending who you ask, between two and five dollars or more, but it’s expensive and companies are … they’re fed up. So we explore what makes them unique and work together to save money and time. You can just imagine the weight lifted from a CFO’s shoulders.”

To solve for modernization and workforce demands, many of which are based on the immediacy and simplicity of P2P payments innovations, Smith said that he and the Prepaid team at U.S. Bank usually follow the “20/80 principle.”

“With a lot of our clients we see right away they’re spending 80 percent of their efforts – whether that’s time or money, but it’s usually both – on only 20 percent of their operations,” he said.

“We target those activities for simplification, collaborate, innovate together, and ‘flip the script’ … and the result we aim for, and often attain, is they’re now spending 20 percent of their cost on 80 percent of the business.”

Smith added that some of the biggest savings stem from issuing payroll cards – which are free for U.S. Bank clients — and moving away from paper check. The resulting savings is then applied to mid- and long-term business goals.

“What that means,” Smith said, “is they’re actually delivering on strategy and – I have to emphasize this – transforming with digital. We call it a Digital Bridge.”

Prepaid solutions

“At the end of the day, we know that banking and payments partner needs to offer the best solutions, at the best time, for a company, and I think that’s why U.S. Bank is seeing such great results,” Smith said.

In the case of the hospitality industry and the uptick in hiring, competitive solutions toward labor demands (both from the workforce themselves and from an operations standpoint) are often presented in Prepaid cards and accounts.

“We recommend the U.S. Bank focus card to a lot of clients, and it’s not only our hospitality partners that benefit,” Smith said. “In cases where companies are funding expenses, per diem, emergency payments, which is really a lot more industries than you’d think, the Prepaid option is one of the best ways to move money.”

Noting that clients have been trending toward flexibility and security, Smith pointed toward the striking similarity between Prepaid and “legacy” banking.

“The Focus Card, or lots of other client-forward Prepaid solutions developed by U.S. Bank, can be almost as feature-rich as what you might call “traditional” banking products, like checking accounts. I supposed you could think of prepaids as ‘debit-alternatives,’ but also payment and spending tools,” Smith said, adding “they’re incredibly secure, and we’ve heard from several clients that the payroll teams love prepaid more than anyone.”

People over payments

Smith stressed that the results are not simply months-end reporting facts.

“Our clients are telling us how much ‘happier’ their customers and employees are, how their retention rises, … it’s really nice to hear, but my team rates our own performance on those intangible results, and it’s changing the payments industry.”

To learn more about Prepaid at U.S. Bank, join us at this year’s MPC21 or visit




David Smith

Prepaid – Head of National Sales & Relationship Management, U.S. Bank

As Senior Vice President of the Prepaid National Sales and Relationship Management team, Dave is responsible for overseeing new business efforts and ongoing client support for the Prepaid division. He establishes strategic direction for the entire sales and relationship management team, overseeing contracting administration, drives revenue growth and client engagement.

Dave has 16 years’ experience in prepaid card services in both retail and banking services. He has worked with government agencies for the past eight years. Key areas of focus over his career have included driving revenue growth during times of economic instability, overseeing the development and marketing of industry-leading prepaid products and leading new business development. He holds a bachelor’s degree in political science.