The Mastercard® debit cards that Pronto Cash issues are a product designed to be issued by banks. They can not only be reloaded and used to make payments, but the cards function as a complete bank account with only some limits on how much money can be deposited.
A review of the FAQ page of the Pronto Cash website unearthed statements like these - in trademark broken Friesner English - which clearly indicate that Friesner and Nazarova are offering full-fledged banking:
The card can be loaded over and over again in many various methods including from your confidential and secure account on the ProntoCash Web Site or through your Cellular with our unique and Hi Tech Software safely and quickly.
The complete transaction history can be viewed via an online account management financial solutions and using mobile phone as often as you like and at no cost to the Card Holder.
Yes you can load from a Debit Card online
Via Bank Transfer if you so desire
Via Salary Transfer
The back-end of the card is not being run by Pronto Cash itself, but by a Costa Rican subsidiary of Evertec Inc. Apparently, the software platform being used is SISCARD, which according to the website offers everything a bank would want to do managing accounts, including transfers, opening accounts, raising credit limits and so on.
Pronto Cash itself offers fund transfer service "without restrictions":
Pronto Cash has formed alliances with select and leading banks, processors, software creators and the prestige MasterCard and created the SPEEDYCASH system to share and transmit money in order to provide a convenient, secure and cost-effective means of sending money to family and friends abroad.
Each Pronto Cash Financial Card Holder controls his own funds and sends his own funds to a Supplementary Card Holder instantly with the SPEEDYCASH software.
There is no longer need to wait for hours to share money. A Card Holder can be in Moscow; his bank in London, England and he can send money to his son who is in South Africa within minutes. His son can then either attend at an ATM immediately or pay for his dinner at a local Bistro or shop.
LOANS AND FINANCE
But Pronto Cash does even more than managing accounts for its clients: They also offer various types of loans, financing and insurance. In November of last year, they posted a pitch for medical loans:
Each consumer will also be eligible to obtain the necessary funds quickly through the Pronto Cash Financial Cash for any medical needs; such as, surgery, dental, orthopaedic, neurologic, or any other needs classified under medical needs.
Payments are made directly to the hospital or doctors by patients seeking to reduce paperwork and speed up work necessary medical needs.
The consumer may make monthly payments or a form-fitting for them at Pronto Cash.
Financiera Pronto Cash charges a minimal interest in the loan amount for medical needs only. If the consumer can pay the amount of the loan or pay off the amount at a time convenient for him; this will be allowable without additional cost to the cardholder.
Then in February of this year, they launched a payday loan scheme masquerading as "micro-finance":
Are you in a major bind and need some cash quickly? Need little extra cash in your pocket until your next pay day? Let us help you! There are various reasons why getting emergency cash becomes necessary for people. No matter why, there is a viable option available—payroll cash advances can be easily obtained, if you know where to look.
The process of securing a loan from us is so quick and easy. Thanks to our payroll advance loan easy qualifying program, your financial fortune is set to receive a much-needed face-lift.
We can recharge your loans, advances or payments quickly and efficiently on your FINANCIERA PRONTO CASH S.A. MasterCard. No waiting in line or traveling miles to pick up your money, because our Hi Tech Data Base serves your needs immediately and the loan is automatically recharged to you without any aggravation.
And at the same time, also in February of this year, they started offering the "Pronto Cash mortgage":
We want you to own your home in Paradise sooner by paying, as little interest, as possible over the life of your mortgage. That's why we created the PRONTO CASH mortgage; the mortgage for savers. The no hassle mortgage! (...)
Besides the savings, we're also committed to doing everything we can to make your mortgage experience better. When you're ready, click "Apply Now" or call one of our mortgage experts at (507) 399.CASH (2274) in Panama and they'll start you down the path to saving with the PRONTO CASH mortgage.
The Superintendencia de Bancos de Panama already posted a notice on its website warning the public that Pronto Cash is not licensed as a bank and can therefore not legally provide banking services in Panama. That has not stopped Monte Friesner and Tatiana Nazarova from continuing to offer various banking services on their website.
The license they do have is the same that for example pawn shops and Western Union agents use. It does not allow them to offer banking services or insurance.
Monte Friesner, who runs Pronto Cash even though he doesn't appear anywhere in the corporate documents, was convicted on several counts of fraud and money laundering in the late nineties in the US, his specialty being advance fee fraud in fake loan schemes.
He got out of jail in 1998. It didn't take him long to land in trouble again: In 2004 the Ontario securities commission fined him for running an unlicensed "prime bank" investment scheme and ordered that he cease trading in securities permanently, and banned Friesner from ever acting as corporate officer or director again.
According to El Panama America, Pronto Cash's card scheme is benefiting from a law that was sponsored by José Isabel Blandón, who operates a law firm together with Herbert Young. The law was passed shortly before Pronto Cash started its debit card scheme. Herbert Young is a director and stakeholder of Pronto Cash, according to public filings and Pronto Cash's own FaceBook page.
In one FaceBook post, Pronto Cash employees explicitly thank Herbert Young and other principals for a party during the latest soccer world championship. Another post names Young as a "shareholder and partner" who is "thrilled at the reception in Panama for our Pronto Cash Financial Cards".
And MasterCard®? Their only comment so far has been that they see nothing wrong with Pronto Cash, Friesner, Nazarova or any of their schemes.