Reader’s Digest Canada announced that VISA has ranked at the most “Trusted Brand” in credit cards. Respondents to the national survey were asked to name the brand they most trusted in 35 product categories and then to rate the brand’s performance in five key areas: quality, innovation, customer service, advertising and value for money. In the “Bank/Trust Company” category, it was a tie between RBC Financial Group and TD Canada Trust. Almost one-third of Canadians polled in the survey strongly agreed with the statement “It is more difficult to trust products and brands today than it was twenty years ago.”


Home Capital reported this week that its consumer lending unit had
22,265 VISA cardholder accounts with receivables of $16.2 million at EOY
2002. The gross credit card receivable balance is comprised of $10.0
million in accounts secured by cash deposits or mortgage collateral and
$6.6 million in
unsecured accounts. The total credit approved is comprised of $17.0 million
in secured and $9.5 million in unsecured credit lines. The recent
introduction of the secured “Equity Plus VISA” product has pulled in 208
accounts and receivables of $4.0 million at year-end. The Company’s
strategy of focusing on credit cards secured by cash deposits or home
equity is illustrated by the increase of secured loans to 60.2% of the
credit card receivables as compared to 28.4% at the end of 2001. In
November, Home Trust announced a further expansion of its partnership with
First Data through which Home Trust will offer VISA credit card acceptance
services to Canadian merchants beginning in the first quarter of this year.


Crown Taxi of Toronto said yesterday it has experienced a 10-fold
increase in credit card transactions since installing wireless terminals in
its fleet five months ago. The taxi firm uses a system developed by
Vancouver-based eXcape Business Transactions. eXcape’s “fleetX” POS
terminals accept all payment card types including MasterCard, debit, VISA,
American Express, and Diners Club cards. Crown Taxi, which became the
first taxi company in North America to equip its entire fleet with wireless
point-of-sales terminals, has been experimenting with wireless
point-of-sale devices for two years. eXcape’s wireless POS devices were
developed in conjunction with SchlumbergerSema, Research in Motion, and
Rogers AT&T Wireless.


Loblaw Companies reported that during the fourth quarter it securitized
$60 million of credit card receivables, $244 million year-to-date. The
company offers the “President’s Choice MasterCard” through a partnership
with President’s Choice Financial. President’s Choice Financial services is
a co-venture between Loblaw Companies Limited and Canadian Imperial Bank of
Commerce and was formed in early 1998.
Meanwhile, Loblaw reported that its sales for the fourth quarter increased
7.5% or $392 million to $5.6 billion. Loblaw Companies Limited is Canada’s
largest food distributor.


Vancouver-based DataWave reported net income of US$119,964 for the quarter
ended December 31st, compared to net income of US$22,667 for the same
period last year, an increase of 429%. Revenues increased 47% to
US$4,798,270 from US$3,273,335. DataWave’s Canadian operation generates all
its revenues from the sale of prepaid long distance and prepaid wireless
phone cards and PINs to retailers. DataWave announced in the prior quarter
its intention to become an intermediary between national Canadian prepaid
cellular providers and certain national convenience stores in order to
exploit its POSA technology. The Company has deployed 356 terminals
distributing prepaid cellular PINs in Canada as of the end of 2002. These
terminals dispensed PINs with a gross value of US$1.3 million in the
quarter ended December 31, 2002 and US$1.5 million since the program began.


Montreal-based VISA Desjardins is expanding its “accord D
FINANCING” program after signing a deal with Cantrex Buying Group, the
largest furniture buying group in the country. VISA Desjardins has been
offering VISA cards with an alternate credit limit, aside from the regular
limit, that consumers can use to finance the purchase of durable goods
directly from participating merchants. The financing is processed in
seconds over the merchant’s POS terminal. The program has been highly
successful in Quebec, with close to one million users. There are currently
over 2,800 participating businesses in the financing


Sears Canada confirmed yesterday it plans to expand its “Sears
MasterCard” program across the country this year. The company launched the
MasterCard in September in Ontario only, and at year-end 2002, had
activated 125,000 accounts with $150 million in outstandings. Sears Canada
has nine million retail cardholders, the largest store credit card program
in Canada. At year-end 2002, the Sears Canada card had $2,753,000,000 in
card outstandings. Sears Canada is a multi-channel retailer with a network
of 123 department stores, 40 furniture and appliances stores, over 2,100
catalogue pick-up locations, 140 dealer stores, 17 outlet stores, 45 floor
covering centers, 52 auto centers and 111 Sears Travel offices. In the
U.S., Sears has $12.3 billion in outstandings in the “Sears Gold
MasterCard” program, compared to $5.3 billion on year ago.
U.S.-based Sears has $18.5 billion in store card outstandings.

Algonquin Travel & UATP

Universal Air Travel Plan confimed the successful launch of its
pilot program which allows direct acceptance of UATP accounts by travel
agencies. Ottawa-based Algonquin Travel is the pilot program’s first
participant. Algonquin began accepting and processing UATP transactions
in December. UATP is working with a limited number of corporate agencies
around the world to launch the program and plans aggressive expansion
throughout 2003. Universal Air Travel Plan, formerly known as “Air Travel Card,” is the
world’s first corporate travel payment system. The plan has more than US$7
billion in annual billings.


The U.S. Federal Trade Commission announced a settlement with a group of
Canadian-based defendants, who allegedly defrauded hundreds of consumers by
pressuring them over the phone to purchase essentially worthless “credit
card protection” insurance for up to $369. The Commission filed its
complaint in October 2001 as part of the FTC’s “Operation Ditch the Pitch”
law enforcement initiative, which targeted deceptive out-bound (cold-call)
telemarketers and sellers. The latest settlement ends the FTC’s litigation
against Icon America, Inc.; 9066-3451 Quebec, Inc. doing business as Sierra
Enterprises; Mete Suatac; and Jonathan Parkinson. According to the
Commission, the individual defendants, who are based in Canada, have few
remaining assets, and the corporate entities are no longer in business.
Among other items, the order contains a suspended judgment for $1.5
million, the amount of Icon’s gross sales, and the approximate amount of
consumer injury, and requires the defendants to pay $25,000 that the FTC
may use for consumer redress.

Moneris Solutions Reports it Processed a Record 8.5 Million Card Transactions on December 23rd

Amex Bank of Canada has signed an agreement to purchase the VISA
accounts of approximately 300 TD Bank Financial Group’s corporate clients
that have annual revenues of more than $20 million. Under terms of the
deal, which reportedly is worth in excess of $200 million, TD will promote
a broad range of American Express corporate products to its commercial
clients while AmEx issues, manages and supports TD’s corporate card program
for major clients. The migration from VISA commercial cards to AmEx cards
will be completed by mid-summer. Two years ago TD Canada Trust sold its
MasterCard portfolio to Citibank Canada.
One year ago, AmEx inked a deal with CIBC to issue a suite of AmEx credit
cards including a smart card. The CIBC/AmEx card products carry the name
“entourage.” The three “entourage” credit cards include the “American
Express Smart Card,” “Platinum American Express Card,” and the “Business
American Express Card.” Under terms of the deal, CIBC will issue the cards,
own the accounts and handle the customer service support for the AmEx
cards, including authorizations, billing and credit management.

VISA’s Boxing Day Volume Approaches $300 Million

Intelli-Check and Bioscrypt have teamed to combine the enhanced
security provided by Bioscrypt’s fingerprint verification algorithm with
Intelli-Check’s “ID-CHECK” technology to prevent economic loss from
check-cashing, credit card and various other frauds utilizing fake
identification and to provide an enhanced security system for access
control at airports, seaports, bus and rail terminals and other high
profile infrastructure. The proposed combined solution will store the
fingerprint template in a 2D bar-code where it will be read by the
“ID-CHECK” technology to perform user authentication. The user
authentication is performed seamlessly and automatically in seconds using
Bioscrypt’s award winning fingerprint recognition algorithm. This provides
a secure link between the user and the document enhancing protection
against fraud and identity theft underlying economic loss and security

Credit Card Delinquency Hits 13.50% in November, the Fifth Straight Monthly Increase

Toronto-based Xenos has been selected by TSYS’ ProCard subsidiary to
provide a software platform for ProCard’s “Statement Centre” solution.
“Statement Centre” enables cardholders, managers and
administrators to manage statements and invoices electronically, allowing
for real time access of credit card transactions as well as presentment of
cycled statement and invoice images. Once statement and invoice print files
are generated, they are securely transmitted to ProCard’s “Statement
Centre” solution where Xenos’ “d2e Platform” software parses the statements
and invoices and converts them to PDF images. Users can then retrieve and
view the PDF images via the Internet using the advanced features of
“Statement Centre.” Xenos “d2e Platform” transforms legacy printstreams
into standard electronic formats, for applications such as electronic
statement presentment, enterprise content management/archiving, print
automation and customer relationship management.