Sunday, February 18, 2007

And the Latest on... *sigh* ... NETeller

NETeller was in the news again last week. not once, but twice. The first development occurred on Wednesday when the U.S. Attorney's Office for Southern New York announced that the next round of hearings in the Lawrence/Lefebvre matter would be delayed an additional 30 days. The New York USAO jurisdiction is where the money-laundering case was brought against NETeller's founders, and it looks as though the legal rasslin' continues. The 30-day extension increases the already high likelihood that nothing will happen in the short term concerning frozen U.S. deposits.

ed note: here is a list of viable neteller alternatives

Meanwhile, NETeller itself announced a round of layoffs that chopped away almost 40% of its remaining force. NETeller had already reduced from its all-time high of more than a thousand employees, but last week's cutback of 250 positions will take the firm down to a level of about 425, with none of them worrying too much about that "25 Years of Service" party looming two decades down the road.

220 of the 250 layoffs are occuring at NETeller's Calgary, Alberta facility. The Canadian site was the headquarters for NETeller's dealings with U.S. customers, which, of course, aren't likely to be needed as much on a going-forward basis. NETeller also chopped 30 staffers as part of a combining of facilities in England. The large Canadian cutbacks, in particular, leave NETeller with vacant Calgary office space that the company must now try to lease or sell.

A number of new payment options are popping up across the board, with some looking more promising than others. We'll come back to the topic in a little bit, but many people are reporting success in funding accounts through disposable "gift" debit cards purchased at convenience stores, drug stores and the like. It's hit or miss, of course.

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