Innovation and Relevance: The Direct Express® Advantage

/Innovation & Relevance
Innovation & Relevance 2020-02-24T20:53:21+05:00

Without a bank account, individuals and families face challenges in managing their day-to-day lives, which carry a significant socio-economic cost. First among these challenges is accessing their wages or benefits, which generally means converting a check, via a  check casher, into cash, often at a significant price.

With cash as the only means of payment, making purchases or paying rent and utility bills is far from easy. It generally requires payments to be be made in-person, which takes time away from work and family. It also rules out the use of convenient online or telephone payments that many others take for granted. Cash also makes budgeting and money-management difficult, and is especially susceptible to loss or theft.

This cash-based existence was the norm for many Direct Express® beneficiaries, 70 percent of whom have no bank account (according to a 2018 survey). Moving beneficiaries from paper checks to Direct Express® addressed these challenges instantly, leaving room for continued innovation that would enhance the utility and experience for cardholders.

Enhancements to the card’s core utility have included the development and fielding of the popular PayPerks financial capability program, and the creation of a smartphone app.

Direct Express® Smartphone APP 

 In 2018, it is estimated that 80 percent of Direct Express® beneficiaries own a smartphone. To financially empower our beneficiaries and give them safer, secure, convenient and portable access to their accounts, Comerica Bank launched the DX℠ Mobile App, developed and hosted by Mastercard®, in August 2015. Once app users register and choose a PIN code for security purposes, they can check their balances, view transaction details, confirm pending deposits, locate nearby ATMs and pinpoint free cash-back locations. Since launch, 90 percent of users report accessing the app every month. 42 percent of users say they check their account balances on the app six or more times a month.

Click the icon to get the Apple or Android version of the Direct Express App 

Cardholder Need and Direct Express® Feature

A Growing Program

As Direct Express® has evolved, the number of government agencies and programs utilizing it to disburse benefits has significantly increased, taking Direct Express® beyond just Social Security and Supplemental Security Income. Today, eight agencies and 27 benefit programs use Direct Express®.
Agency Payment Type Description
Social Security Administration Social Security
Social Security Administration Supplemental Security Income
Railroad Retirement Board Railroad Retirement/Annuity
Railroad Retirement Board Railroad Unemployment/Sickness
Office of Personnel Management Civil Service Retirement/Annuity
Office of Personnel Management Civil Service Survivor/Annuity
Department of Labor Black Lung
Department of Labor Federal Employee Workers Comp
Department of Labor Long Shore and Harbor Workers Comp
Department of Labor Energy
Coast Guard US Coast Guard
Treasury DC Pension
Department of Defense Defense Finance & Accounting (DFAS) Annuitant Pay
Department of Defense DFAS Retired Military Pay
Department of Defense DFAS Former Spouse Pay
Department of Veterans Affairs Veterans Compensation and Pension
Department of Veterans Affairs Veterans Education MGIB
Department of Veterans Affairs Veterans Education/Selected Reserve
Department of Veterans Affairs Veterans Vocational Rehabilitation & Employment
Department of Veterans Affairs Chapter 33 - VA EDU Post 9/11 GI Bill
Department of Veterans Affairs Chapter 35 - VA DEP EDUC ASST - Dependents Education Assistance Program
Department of Veterans Affairs Chapter 1607 - VA EDUCTN REAP - Reserve Education Assistance
Department of Veterans Health Administration Veterans Health Administration Beneficiary Travel
Department of Veterans Health Administration Compensated Work Therapy
Department of Veterans Health Administration Veterans Medical Research

Continual Innovation

Direct Express® is constantly innovating to streamline the program and bring even greater utility to cardholders. Planned enhancements include:
  • Expansion of cash-back access
  • Incorporation of PayPerks “FoodSmarts” program, which learning how to shop smarter, use nutrition information to make healthier choices and cook delicious, affordable meals
  • Usage rewards
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