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Updated: February 23, 2024

Original: January 24, 2024

Prepaid Debit Card Program Charges and Changes

Update: ON HOLD as of February 22, 2024

On January 24, 2024, we wrote to the community about adding a new supplier for U Market to provide an efficient and cost-effective way to purchase gift cards, and about planned changes to the Prepaid Debit Card Program.

We have received valuable feedback and as a result have placed the planned changes to U Market and the Prepaid Debit Card Program on hold while additional feedback is gathered, budget implications for both departments and the program are more broadly understood, and to reevaluate how some of the changes might be implemented to reduce overall impact.

From budgetary and efficiency perspectives, changes to the programs need to be made, and while there was collaborative work put into the announced changes, it’s clear that even more community awareness and consultation are needed before actual changes are made.

Purchasing Services will continue to meet the need for Prepaid Debit Cards as needed in the interim. Purchasing Services will continue to provide services to meet payment needs both before and after any changes, though the specific services may change in the future and departments may need to share some of the cost.

Opportunities for community feedback and questions, and actions we will take:

  • Send your concerns and questions to your chief financial manager.
  • Chief financial managers and RRC contacts are invited to share at their regular meetings and will be invited to specific sessions related to this topic.
  • Purchasing Services will work with representatives from the Research and Innovation Office, CRAD, IRB, GMUN, and the certified approver community to gather and address any additional concerns.
  • Additional refresher information about general program details will be shared, along with clarifications on when gift cards are appropriate, and where responsibility rests for things like tax liability monitoring/reporting and card security.

Because these services do have real costs, it’s important for people to know that the industry is changing quickly and costs are rising, whether paid for by departments or centrally. Collectively it costs the University far more for individual agreements, implementation, security, and ongoing operations than it does to maintain a central service/system. Departments should work with Purchasing Services and not attempt to negotiate for their own gift card program, prepaid debit card program, or similar programs or systems.

Thank you for the feedback so far, giving us more opportunity to improve our services. All of the comments and questions received are appreciated.

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January 2024 Update, note this effort is now on hold




This effort is ON HOLD.

The University community asked for a more flexible way to buy and manage gift cards. A new supplier called Blackhawk is in the process of being added to U Market. This will help departments have more control over the timing and details of gift card purchases. Blackhawk’s offerings are like the giant wall of gift cards one might see at the grocery store.

The process of testing with Blackhawk and building out their presence in U Market will take some time but Purchasing Services anticipates the supplier will be available prior to the end of this fiscal year.

Increasing costs associated with the current Prepaid Debit Card Program (Greenphire) is another reason for the new relationship with Blackhawk. At the end of fiscal year 2023, the Prepaid Debit Card Program costs exceeded what could be absorbed without passing some of the fees/costs on to departments. 

For orders placed after February 20, 2024, a portion of the cost of obtaining the cards will be shared between Purchasing Services and the departments using the service. The current Prepaid Debit Cards cost more than $5 each to issue and ship. There is also a fee to load/reload cards, fees for the individual user accounts, and annual licensing fees for the service. A $5 issuance fee per Prepaid Debit Card will be passed on to requesting departments beginning February 20, 2024. Purchasing Services will process journal vouchers transactions for the charges at least monthly, but likely as cards are requested.

The Prepaid Debit Card Program will be eliminated after Blackhawk is in place as a supplier in U Market. People will be allowed to continue to set up and buy Prepaid Debit Cards until we run out of our current inventory of pre-printed cards (about 6,000 cards are on hand; based on current use, we expect this will last us through the end of this fiscal year). 

  • For people who have cards in use and studies in progress, you can still use those cards. An official date to sunset the overall program itself has not yet been set. 
  • A review of gift card purchasing rules and procedural guidance will be shared again just prior to when Blackhawk becomes available in U Market.

About the new service

  • Blackhawk provides both physical and digital/virtual non-reloadable cards.
  • Blackhawk will begin with a limited set of cards that reflect the most frequently used suite of gift cards people purchase today (Visa, Mastercard, Target, Amazon, etc.).
  • Cards will be available in predetermined denominations based on the most frequently requested card amounts, $5, $10, $25, $100, etc. (the full list of amounts is still being determined).


  • One of the main reasons the U uses gift cards is to pay for individuals participating in research.
  • Only order the number of cards that can reasonably be used in the coming months. Gift cards are not returnable and unused or extra cards intended for study participants cannot be used as gifts/for employee or student recognition, and must not be used to pay for goods or services. 
  • Gift cards cannot be used to pay employees or students in lieu of using payroll processes.

Frequently asked question: My study runs well past the end of this fiscal year, what do I do?

We will do our best to keep the system available for all existing studies. An end date has not yet been set for existing studies.

About the Program (PPDC)

This program is administered by Purchasing Services, part of the Controller's Office. It exists to provide re-loadable prepaid debit cards that offer a faster and safer payment method for all University departments. For many scenarios (such as paying study participants) PPDC is a preferred alternative to AP checks, gift cards, petty cash, or cash advance.

U Administrator Portal Access
For University staff, once you've received special login credentials from Purchasing Services.

Cardholder Portal
For card recipients. Cardholders may view available balance, review transactions, and manage their account.

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Benefits and Features


  • An online portal (ClinCard) for convenient administrative actions like loading, tracking, and reporting on study payments.
  • Secure and safe method for compensating participants (visit payments and participant travel reimbursements).
  • Participants receive immediate payment for research study participation.
  • Reduced payment administration.
  • Increased participant retention.

Benefits to Subjects

  • Worldwide acceptance of card.
  • Protection against fraud with MasterCard Zero Liability.
  • No bank account required for recipients of cards.
  • 24/7 customer service.
  • Card can be used as a PIN based transaction, with signature point of sale, or for cash withdrawal at a bank or ATM.

Policy, Procedure, and Access

  • All prepaid debit card payments must be in compliance with the University's Human Participant policy, regardless of the funding source.
  • For information on the business process, see Making Payments using Prepaid Debit Cards.
  • For those with access, Administrator Portal training documents are available for University staff after login, look under the support tab.
  • For existing studies, if you need to grant or remove access to the ClinCard Administrator Portal, email the completed PPDC Portal Access Form to Purchasing Services.
  • The administrative policy Processing, Documenting, and Approving Financial and Accounting Transactions provides expectations of approvers.
  • Each department is responsible for reconciling prepaid debit card recipients, dollar amounts loaded, and invoices. The reconciliation should be completed by someone with knowledge of the specific study/program without coordinator access to the debit card portal. This reconciliation should be available on hand within the department and available for audit.

Process to Request PrePaid Debit Cards

  • Departments enter a Blanket Order Requisition into EFS (using supplier code: PPDC / Prepaid Debit Card).
  • Attach a completed PPDC Study Form to the requisition.
  • After approvals are applied to the requisition in EFS, a Purchasing Services representative will arrange card pickup with the department.

Associated Fees for Card Usage

There are currently no fees for departments to use the Prepaid Debit Card Program. All cards and load fees are centrally funded.

There will be a fee charged to the cardholder if an ATM is used to withdraw cash, if the card has no activity, or if transactions are made in foreign currencies.

After Cards are Issued

These steps are performed by Purchasing Services:

  • Purchasing runs reports in the ClinCard card system and will enter receipts and invoices bi-weekly based on dollar amount issued by the Department.
  • Invoice will be created by Purchasing Services and placed in the EFS cluster’s voucher drawer in Perceptive Content.

Your cluster Voucher Specialist:

  • Must monitor their Perceptive Content drawer for incoming invoices related to ClinCard activity.
  • Must create/complete a voucher by copying from the receipt that was entered by Purchasing Services.

There's no departmental receiving (don't receive) for this process!

Portal Requirements

  • To assign a card to an individual you will need to enter their name, date of birth, and address into the portal.
  • A subject ID is required to keep the cardholder's information confidential in reporting. This can be any combination of numbers and letters of your choosing.
  • There are two payment options when paying a participant: Request Payment and Request Reimbursement. Request reimbursement should be utilized when paying for travel related activities like mileage, parking, hotel, meals, etc and are considered non taxable income.

Monitoring Card Inventory

  • Cards are distributed to study coordinators on a per study basis. Study coordinators may request the estimated number of cards needed for 3 months. Additional cards may be requested when needed.
  • Cards may not be shared between departments and must be kept in a secure place. Purchasing Services has the right to verify a department's card inventory at any time.
  • Once a study has been completed, any remaining inventory must be returned to Purchasing Services.
  • It is very important that departments track their card inventory.
  • It is the department's responsibility to securely store their cards.

Data Security in the Clincard Portal

  • Patient information is never sold.
  • Complies with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), 45 CFR Section 160.103, and HITECH.
  • Patient information is stored securely using appropriate administrative, physical, and technical safeguards.
  • Voluntarily self-certifying to the Safe Harbor framework.

Tax Reporting Compliance (1099)

For subjects paid $600 or more in qualifying payments in a calendar year, a W9 and social security number are required to comply with IRS reporting requirements. The subject's social security number must be entered into the portal for the University to meet federal 1099 reporting responsibilities. W9s can be submitted to Accounting Services via Box Secure Storage which is a cloud storage and collaboration service configured to meet the University security standards. A secure folder will be created for your study/project and access will be granted by Accounting Services. Please contact [email protected].


Greenphire's Product Training Team will be launching regularly scheduled Standard New User Training sessions for site users to learn about ClinCard. After a user's profile is created, they will receive an email invitation in the following weeks to register for one of the recurring training sessions, which will be offered on the 2nd and 4th Wednesdays of each month.

The goal of this training initiative is to offer standardized training to every new study coordinator. The new user training sessions will include a combination of slides, detailed demonstration, and Q&A. Each registrant and attendee will also receive the recording of the session, so they can review the training again at a later time, if needed.

Below is the registration link for training: Coordinator Training:

Contact Us

Phone: 612-624-3426
Email: [email protected]

1300 2nd Street S Minneapolis, MN 55454 Suite 277
Building Abbreviation: WBOB