The launch of the new OnePrinceton debit card is a long-awaited and welcome event according to John Marshall, the owner of Main Street Bistro at the Princeton Shopping Center.
As a member of the Princeton Merchants Association (PMA), Mr. Marshall was one of the local businessmen who had hoped to bring a precursor of today’s card to Princeton some years ago. At that time, Bob Carr, founder of Heartland Payment Systems, was asked to present ideas for a single card that could be used for library related items and to pay for parking around Princeton. While nothing came of the idea at that time, the new and improved card that has just been launched was worth the wait, said Mr. Marshall. When Mr. Carr presented plans to the PMA in February of this year, the technology had advanced. Smartphones had changed everything.
“The advent of the smartphone in the interim has enhanced the value of the new card for users,” explained Mr. Marshall. “It’s actually a decoupled debit card,” he said, meaning that the card can be linked to any bank account you like. “So there is no forcing anyone to use a particular bank or change their relationship with their existing bank.”
“The card bypasses traditional networks [such as Visa and Mastercard] and gives monetary traction to the practice of buying local. As merchants we pay for the privilege of the brand on the card, not necessarily the function of the card or the value it delivers,” said Mr. Marshall, referring to charges to merchants for credit card transactions that can sometimes be as high as three percent.
Since OnePrinceton transactions cost less to process than traditional credit cards, local businesses are able to save and to effectively split savings between the Prince-ton-based credit card processor Heartland Payment Systems, which administers the card, and the consumer, allowing the latter to redirect those savings to the benefit of local non-profits.
According to its website, Heartland Payment Systems at 90 Nassau Street is “a Fortune 1000 company and ranked fifth in the nation for payment processing providers.”
As Mr. Marshall points out: “In turn those non-profits will urge their supporters to adopt the card and to patronize the merchants who use it. The result is that 100 percent of what is being spent stays in the Princeton community, a very sustainable plan.”
OnePrinceton benefits non-profits to the tune of 1 percent of what is spent. The idea is to encourage users to shop local and contribute to the community at the same time. Currently the card is for in-store purchases only and cannot be used at an ATM or for online purchases.
“That Jim McCaffrey has endorsed the card and made all checkout lanes at the McCaffrey’s store in the Princeton Shopping Center able to accept payment via OnePrinceton was very exciting for the PMA,” said Mr. Marshall, whose own Main Street Bistro is offering incentives to those using the card. “Between 2:30 and 5:30 p.m. we’ll take $1 off any and every item you purchase using the card or phone app, and if you don’t have the card, just ask for one and we can help you with that too,” said Mr. Marshall.
Endorsed by Mayor Liz Lempert, who used the application on her smartphone to make a purchase at McCaffrey’s supermarket last Wednesday, and by local nonprofits, OnePrinceton is a new way to pay at participating local businesses using your smartphone app or the OnePrinceton card that links directly to your checking or savings account and works just like a debit card with a PIN for extra security. It’s free to enroll.
Currently some 60 merchants are participating and more are being added all the time. “Two more came on board just this week,” said Emmalee Carr, who has been working with her father since August and is enthusiastic about the program. “When you enroll you pick a local nonprofit of your choice, so far there are 10 listed, or you can choose to share equally with all of them. You can either enroll online at oneprinceton.com or by going to one of the participating merchants. You can use a card or you can go cardless and simply use your smartphone.
“My Dad’s been talking about this for a long time and so its great to see it come to fruition; its great to be a part of it,” she said.
A version of the card that will enable users to pay for parking in town is in the works. Princeton currently uses a smart chip in parking meters and at garage access points. and OnePrinceton will be integrating smart chips into its cards.
For more information visit: www.oneprinceton.com.