First Data has acquired Size Technologies, a provider of loyalty, value and transaction marketing solutions. This acquisition will enable First Data to offer to its participating clients access to loyalty features and functionality including couponing, consumer messaging, product-based rewards, customer relationship management and campaign management tools which can be offered at the point of sale, through printed messaging, mobile phone messaging, via the Internet and automated voice response tools. The new program has first been implemented through a relationship with Royal Buying Group, a national organization that implements vendor programs for its member base of over 5,500 convenience store and petroleum locations.
Atos Worldwide has extended its contract with Landesbank Berlin.
The contract reflects Atos’ five year commitment to processing
Landesbank’s entire card portfolio. The portfolio covers 1.7 million
active credit and private label cards. In extending the contract, both
partners are continuing their almost 20-year business relationship to
carry out innovative joint projects in the future. Atos Worldwide is a
company of Atos Origin and is an international information technology
services company. Atos’ annual revenues are EUR 5.5 billion and it
employs over 47,000 people in 40 countries. Landesbank Berlin is
headquartered in Berlin and is the banking market share leader with
close to 50% of the customers in the region and a market leader in the
As consumers groups yesterday lampooned credit card industry practices in a Democratic-controlled U.S. Senate Banking Committee hearing, the industry stood its ground claiming that credit cards give consumers a product that offers unparalleled convenience and safety from fraud at an extremely low cost. Card leaders, such as Chase, also recently announced plans to work closer with cardholders. Meanwhile, a merchants group jumped on the bandwagon saying that card industry players rip-off both merchants and consumers. The ABA yesterday said the card industry is working with regulators to improve disclosures. As credit card interest rates have declined, access to credit has increased and consumer debt, as a percentage of income, has remained constant. Ahead of the Senate hearing, Chase announced last week it is helping customers avoid late and over-limit fees and maintain the most favorable interest rates by encouraging them to take advantage of free alerts from Chase; providing free, convenient options to manage accounts through Chase Online; using an average daily balance method of calculating finance charges instead of the two-cycle method; and giving consumers greater access to financial education information to help them make better personal finance decisions. The Merchants Payments Coalition chimed in too yesterday saying it applauds the efforts of Senator Dodd (D-CT), who called for heightened scrutiny into the credit card industry and an investigation into interchange fees. The MPC says credit card companies have long profited from placing hidden fees and practices on unsuspecting merchants and consumers.
The nation’s second largest airline loyalty card program is cutting the expiration time on earned miles from 36 months to 18 months for inactive members, effective immediately. “Mileage Plus” accounts that have not earned or redeemed miles since July 1, 2006 will have associated miles expire on Dec. 31, 2007. The change applies to both the United loyalty card and its co-branded VISA program with Chase. United says members or cardholders can avoid the expiration deadline by flying on United or one of its 28 airline partners; use or sign-up for a “Mileage Plus VISA” credit or debit card; purchase products or services from more than 100 travel and retail partners; use miles by taking a trip to one of the 841 destinations United and its partners serve; use miles for merchandise, hotel stays and dining; transfer miles to another “Mileage Plus” member; or donate miles to the “Mileage Plus Charity Miles” program. United says the change will help open more award seats for loyal customers. U.S. Airways is also closing mileage accounts that have been inactive for 18 months as of January 31st, and Southwest Airlines is canceling unused awards within 24 months. Some discount airlines such as AirTran use a 12-month expiration on all miles earned.
A new report has found that in-store debit card purchases that cause an overdraft cost $2.17 for every dollar borrowed. By comparison, check-triggered overdraft loans cost $0.86 per dollar borrowed. The study by the Center for Responsible Lending says some 61% of the 2,400 surveyed preferred that their debit card purchase be denied at the checkout if it would otherwise overdraw their account and incur a fee. Nearly all responded that they would cancel their ATM withdrawal to avoid a fee. The report, “Debit Card Danger,” analyzed the checking accounts of more than 5,000 customers of the nation’s 15 largest banks and found that debit card purchases and ATM withdrawals trigger 46% of high-cost overdraft loans.
Vasco Security has announced that Uruguay’s Discount Bank is their
newest client. The Vasco “Digipass GO3” will be used to protect Discount
Bank’s private, online customers for generating both one-time and
static passwords. VASCO’s user authentication software is
delivered through Digipass hardware security products, which has sold 28
million products, establishing VASCO as a world-leader for strong User
Authentication. VASCO works with over 550 international financial
institutions, approximately 3,300 blue-chip corporations and governments
located in more than 100 countries. Discount Latin Bank America was
founded in 1958 and is now a subsidiary of IDB Bank of New York.
Wells Fargo customers in Central California can deposit cash and checks directly into ATMs without an envelope. About 400 “Envelope-Free WebATM” machines are now in place in Northern California with a plan to add 825 more of the new machines by the end of the year. “Envelope-Free ATMs” faster and easier ATM deposits; customers can deposit up to 30 bills in different denominations and up to 10 checks directly into the machine at one time, see check images on the ATM screen. All of Wells Fargo’s 6,700+ ATMs are web-enabled, which means they are faster, easier to use, and can perform more functions than traditional ATMs. On October 28, 2004, the same day “Check 21” became federal law; Wells Fargo was the first financial institution in the U.S. to transmit a check deposited at an ATM in Hayward, California.
Chicago-based Moneris Solutions has entered into a partnership with Recreation Sports Management Inc., the creators of www.esportsdeskpro.com, to offer Web-based payments and other services to the company’s athletic leagues, organizations and team clients. esportsdeskpro.com will enable organizations to collect online payments for team and player registrations, fees, fundraising, event ticketing and team merchandise sales. esportsdeskpro.com serves amateur sports leagues, teams and associations by hosting and designing their official websites, which includes a sports content management system. Moneris provides transaction-processing services nationwide serving 350,000 merchant locations.
Helgeland Sparebank and Entercard have signed a four-year agreement
stipulating the development and creation of credit card products for
Helgeland consumers. EnterCard is Norway’s’ largest issuer of credit
cards and was founded more than a year ago by Barclays Bank and Swedbank. This partnership will allow Helgeland Sparebank Group to tap into
Norway’s growing credit card market. Within the previous year EnterCard has signed new
partnership agreements with Sparebank1, Coop and LO in Norway and
FDB/Coop in Denmark. The bank is currently the 13th
largest savings bank in Norway, according to total assets, and has a
network of branches located throughout the Helgeland region, with 16
branches in 14 municipalities of the country.
Airplus International was awarded with the “Best Expense Management
Process.” The company is a global leader in
business travel payment solutions. Airplus’ own software, AirPlus
Integrated Data and Acceptance(A.I.D.A.), is reflective of the companies’
payment solutions. A.I.D.A. enables the purchase of any travel service
with the AirPlus Company Account and automatically records all the
extensive additional data demanded by customers. AirPlus provides
customers with new payment options for travel on more than 200 airline
carriers and helps manage their company’s travel budgets. AirPlus has
about 30,000 corporate customers worldwide.
Business credit card specialist Advanta posted a 39% rise in managed outstandings during the fourth quarter to $5.21 billion. During the fourth quarter, the issuer opened 116,157 new business card accounts and ended the quarter with a record 1,126,083 gross accounts. Advanta’s Business Card unit earned net income of $17.0 million as compared to $20.7 million in the prior quarter, and $13.2 million for 4Q/05. Transaction volume increased 29% to $3.5 billion during the fourth quarter. Charge-offs, on averaged managed receivables, decreased from 3.41% in the third quarter to 3.40% for the third quarter but remain well below 4Q/05’s 6.68% figure. Over 30-day delinquencies on managed receivables dipped 12 basis points to 2.58% from the prior quarter. However, over 90-day delinquencies on managed receivables edged up by 2 basis points to 1.25%, compared to the third quarter of 2006. During the fourth quarter Advanta renewed its processing contract with First Data. For complete details on Advanta’s fourth quarter performance, visit CardData ([www.carddata.com]).
ADVANTA’S CARD PORTFOLIO SNAPSHOT
Period Card Loans
4Q/05: $3.76 billion
1Q/06: $3.89 billion
2Q/06: $4.39 billion
3Q/06: $4.65 billion
4Q/06: $5.21 billion
Source: CardData (www.carddata.com)
VISA USA has acquired the “What’s My Score” program which helps educate college students in financial matters. The national program was previously under the management of the Responsible Credit Partnership. RCP, which joined The Center for Financial Services Innovation on January 1st. RCP says it will continue its work with VISA and other significant stakeholders in the credit card sector to improve responsible use of credit cards on behalf of “new to credit” consumers. As part of its reorganization, it sought VISA as the new management for “What’s My Score.” In addition to the acquisition of certain intellectual property, VISA will expand its role on CFSI’s “Responsible Credit Roundtable,” which supports credit card issuers working to responsibly and profitably address both short- and long-term needs of new to credit consumers. There are currently 17.5 million college students in the U.S.