The International Card Manufacturers Association’s “Annual EXPO” has been scheduled for October 8 to 11 in Athens. Seminar topics will range from contactless technology, card design and personalization trends to advanced ID technologies and card materials. In addition to the main conference program, ICMA will also reveal the results of the “Annual ICMA Global Market Survey.” Participating sponsors include Kurz, Lucchesi, Pittsburgh Embossing Services, Waytek, Spartanics, Digicard, Bayer Material Science and MasterCard.
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Citigroup has named a new Country Business Manager
for ZAO Citibank, with responsibility for all consumer financial
services in Russia, including banking, lending, wealth management,
credit cards and consumer finance. Joel Kornreich, who joined Citigroup’s Global Consumer Group in 1991, will lead the fast growing Russian market. Since launching consumer banking in November 2002, Citibank has opened 38 branches, more than 200 ATMs in Moscow and St. Petersburg and gained over 400,000 consumer accounts.
Wells Fargo is now issuing cards with the “VISA Contactless” option. The issuer, which first announced the new cards in June, says it expects to issue 400,000 cards by year end. Wells is distributing contactless cards to select customers as a replacement to their expired “VISA Platinum” or “VISA Signature” credit cards. Customers can also request their current cards be upgraded to include the contactless feature and customers opening new credit card accounts will have the opportunity to request the feature later this year. Wells is initially sourcing its contactless cards through the “VISA Smart Breakthrough” program, and is currently using cards manufactured by CPI Card Group powered by the “MicroPass” platform from INSIDE Contactless. The new cards will be personalized by First Data. The industry has been pushing contactless cards since last May when Chase introduced the “blink” VISA and MasterCards. Since then Chase has issued nearly seven million cards in the USA. (CF Library 6/14/06; 7/31/06)
CA-based i2c has been chosen as a transaction processing partner by Convenient Cards. Using MCP’s flexible design, Convenient Cards can specify card parameters, set transaction limits, establish fees and charges, manage sales channel activity, and define services they wish to offer to cardholders. Convenient Cards has developed a Co-branded Turnkey Program with multiple cards, offering a variety of functions and applications reaching numerous markets. i2c is a leading, global technology provider of electronic payment processing solutions.
MA-based The NFC Forum has published its first four specifications for the use of near field communication technology. NFC technology is a short-range, standards-based wireless connectivity technology. It allows consumers to perform safe contactless transactions, access digital content and connect electronic devices with a single touch. The NFC Forum was launched as a non-profit industry association in 2004 by leading mobile communications, semiconductor and consumer electronics companies. The Forum’s mission is to advance the use of Near Field Communication technology by developing specifications, ensuring interoperability among devices and services, and educating the market about NFC technology.
MBNA Europe has launched special pricing on its football credit cards. MBNA is offering a 0% interest on card purchases for 3 months from the date the account is opened and a 0% interest rate on balance transfers for 12 months. After the introductory period the card will revert to a typical interest rate of 15.9%. “Premiership” cardholders also generate a contribution to football clubs each time the credit card is used. MBNA is the largest provider of football affinity credit cards in the U.K. and currently provides branded credit cards to all twenty “Premiership” clubs.
Fitch Ratings has hired Les Scharfstein, formerly a VP in American Express’ Corporate Treasury group, as a Director focusing on credit cards. While at American Express, Scharfstein was key in developing Amex’s securitization strategy and helped to establish Amex as one of the premier ABS issuers. Scharfstein will be joining the Consumer ABS Group, headed by Managing Director Claire Mezzanotte, where he will focus on various consumer assets, particularly credit cards.
Dublin-based Trintech has agreed to sell off its payment systems business to VeriFone for $12.1 million in cash. The deal is expected to close this month following the formation of a new subsidiary which will hold substantially all of the assets and liabilities of the payment systems business of Trintech. The Company says it is divesting its payment systems business to concentrate on its transaction reconciliation software products and services. VeriFone says the acquisition will enhance its ability to deliver self-service payment, vending, and pay-at-the-pump applications. Trintech reported first quarter revenues of $11.1 million, a 15% decline over 1Q/05 due to lower product and license revenues. The net loss for the quarter was $2.1 million, compared to net income of nearly $400,000 one-year ago.
FL-based Cash Now has launched a “Virtual Terminal” Web-based platform for processing electronic payments for the payday loan industry. Virtual Terminal is by far the most advanced web-based platform for processing electronic payments available today. With its easy-to-use, yet powerful user interface, Virtual Terminal enables Cash Now licensees and system users to schedule a single transaction or a series of recurring transactions with a few simple keystrokes. Cash Now Corporation is developing the most comprehensive menu of services in the cash advance industry, all centered on the Cash Now brand.
Shinhan Financial Group has reportedly been selected to be the preferred bidder for the controlling stake in the card firm. Shinhan is has also reportedly offered up to $7 billion for the credit card issuer.
Creditors are looking to unload 51% to 72% of LG Card. The winning bidder is to be officially announced on Wednesday. Korea Development Bank, which holds 82% of LG Card, is the lead manager of the sale. The deal would be the largest merger deal in Korean history.
The first contactless small business credit card is being introduced next month. Advanta, a business card specialist, and MasterCard have teamed to roll-out the new “PayPass”-enabled “Advanta MasterCard Small Business.” MasterCard reports that at mid-year there were nearly 10 million “PayPass” cards and devices in the market and approximately 32,000 merchant locations worldwide. Advanta says it will also work with MasterCard to identify the merchants that small business owners do business with in order to grow acceptance of contactless payment cards. At the end of the second quarter, Advanta had 978,517 gross business accounts. Transaction volume for the quarter was $3.0 billion and total outstandings were nearly $4.4 billion. (CF Library 7/27/06)