PANORA, IOWA (March 5, 2014) — It isn’t often in your career that you answer the phone to hear the news that one of your customers has won an all-expenses-paid trip to the Winter Olympics. But that’s exactly the call that Mike Underwood, president and chief executive officer of Guthrie County State Bank (GCSB), received from Dan Kramer, senior vice president of the SHAZAM Network, in early December 2013. Kramer was notifying Underwood that his customer, Scott Calmer of Panora, Iowa, had won the trip by using his GCSB VISA debit card at a Hilton property.

Delivering the big news

That meant Underwood had the privilege of calling Calmer to share the news that he had won a trip package valued at more than $26,000 – an all-expenses-paid trip for two to the Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Calmer and his wife, Joyce, recently returned from Sochi, where the highlight of their Olympic games experience was watching the USA men’s hockey team beat Russia, viewed from their premiere seats at center ice, 17 rows up from the floor near several celebrities and the parents of Russia’s team captain.

“The opportunity to be a part of something of this magnitude and deliver that news is quite unique,” said Underwood. “We are fortunate to be connected to a larger network through SHAZAM and VISA to bring these types of products and opportunities to our community bank customers. Our customers want options to connect to their funds whether that’s through their GCSB SHAZAM VISA debit cards or through mobile banking which we’ll be launching in April.”

Rewards for debit card use

The SHAZAM Network, based in Johnston, Iowa, provides electronic funds transfer services to community financial institutions and provides quarterly debit rewards programs to participating customers like Guthrie County State Bank. This program encourages debit card usage and offers participating financial institutions a chance to reward customers, without incurring additional expense.

“Having a national campaign winner is rare,” said Kramer. “The SHAZAM Debit Rewards program delivers eight winners every month, in addition to a quarterly grand-prize winner. It’s a great way for financial institutions to increase card usage and build customer loyalty.”    

Winners call it “once in a lifetime” experience

The Calmer’s stated they felt quite safe in Sochi and enjoyed their brand new hotel overlooking the Black Sea and Olympic Park. While the unexpectedly warm temperatures in the seventies may not have been ideal for the outdoor events requiring snow, the Panora couple watched the alpine downhill skiing event wearing lightweight, long-sleeved shirts.

“It was a once in a lifetime opportunity and we were very well taken care of,” said Scott. “We will have great memories of our time and experiences in Sochi.”