Mount Lehman Credit Union in British Columbia has become the first
purchaser of Fujitsu Transaction Solutions’ “Series 8000” ATM. Following
certification by the Interac Association’s “Shared Cash Dispensing”
network, MLCU, a single-branch credit union, purchased, and installed the
“Model 8040” ATM and Fujitsu’s “Prism” ATM software for use as an outdoor,
24-hour banking center. For more than 10 years, Fujitsu has supplied ATMs
to some of the largest Canadian credit unions with customers including
VanCity Savings Credit Union in Vancouver, British Columbia and Coast
Capital Savings in Surrey, British Columbia.


Air Canada has inked a deal to permit Onex Corporation to acquire a 35%
equity interest in the “Aeroplan” loyalty program for $245 million. Under
the terms of the agreement, proceeds to Air Canada could increase from $245
million to $350 million if the full earn-out amounts are achieved. Since
its inception in 1984, “Aeroplan” has become Canada’s premier loyalty
program with over six million members. In January 2002, “Aeroplan” became a
wholly-owned subsidiary of Air Canada. In 2002, “Aeroplan” generated cash
revenue in excess of $600 million, of which less than forty percent
represented billings to Air Canada. Approximately 1.4 million round-trips
were redeemed for travel on Air Canada and its worldwide “Star Alliance”
partner airlines in the past year. Aeroplan has more than 90 partnerships
with airline, hotel, car rental,
financial, telecommunication, retail, services and entertainment partners.
It has a long-standing business relationship with CIBC for the “CIBC
Aerogold VISA” card, which allows cardholders to earn one “Aeroplan Mile”
for every one dollar spent. “Aeroplan” also has a long-term partnership
with Diners Club Canada, the only travel and entertainment card to offer
“Aeroplan Miles.”


Household credit rose by 7.6% during the year ending October 2002, the
fastest pace of growth in 11 years. Also, for the first time since mid-2001
consumer credit is rising faster than mortgage credit. Mortgage debt rose
by 7.6% during the year ending October 2002, a significant acceleration
from the 6% growth observed earlier in 2002. During the same period,
consumer debt expanded by more than 8%. Growth in credit card debt is also
rising by over 13% year over year. Even with the very strong growth in
borrowing, personal bankruptcies are trending downward, falling by 1.5% in
the first eleven months of 2002 compared to the same period last year. The
main improvement is in Quebec, with Ontario still seeing rising
bankruptcies – reflecting the sensitivity of the province to developments
south of the border.

$8.1 Billion in VISA Holiday Volume, an 8.4% Increase

One-quarter of Canadian adults surveyed made an Internet banking transaction last year, up from 19% in 2001. Meanwhile, phone-banking usage fell for the first time since tracking began in 1994, from 26% in 2001 to 22% last year, according to NFO CFgroup. When it comes to paying for purchases, debit cards continue to be popular. Although the proportion of Canadians who made at least one debit card payment per month is unchanged from a year ago from 76%, those who use debit cards are swiping them more often. The average number of Interac directpayments made by users in the month prior to the survey was 19.6 in 2002, up from 18.2 in 2001. As for other payment methods, little has changed in Canadians’ use of credit cards and cheques. Three-quarters of adults (74%) hold a credit card of some sort – from a financial institution, retailer or gas/oil company – and 56% usually use their card(s) at least once a month. Almost two-thirds wrote at least one cheque in the past month, up slightly from 62% in 2001, but the average number of cheques written per month per cheque writer continues a downward trend, dropping to 3.8 in 2002 from 4.1 in 2001.


Toronto-based Datawire Communication Networks has named James Meenan to
the position of Chairman of the Board of Directors. Following a 30-year
career with AT&T in the USA in various executive, financial and operating
roles, Meenan successfully established AT&T’s presence in Canada in 1995 as
President and CEO and served in this capacity until 2000. He continues to
serve on the Board of Directors of AT&T Canada and as Chairman of Castek, a
rapidly growing enterprise software company based in Toronto serving the
property and casualty insurance industry. Datawire Communication Networks
offers the “VXN,” an Internet-based Transaction Delivery Network.


Ottawa-based Precidia Technologies has joined TELUS Mobility’s “Data
Alliance Partner Program” to provide a new wireless IP solution to the
Canadian ATM industry. Monthly communications fees can be significantly
reduced by using Precidia’s “CellDial” in conjunction with TELUS Mobility’s
“always-on” digital “Mike” network. Additional savings are realized by
eliminating telephone installation and administration costs.
According to Interac and the Canadian Banking Association, there are
currently over 20,000 “white label” or generic ATMs in Canada. Precidia
says many of these ATM operators are looking to decrease the costs
associated with machine deployment. The new Precidia/TELUS ATM wireless
solution is available now across Canada.

Sears Canada Receives Government Approval for its New Bank Subsidiary

California-based ACCPAC International, a subsidiary of Computer Associates
International, has acquired all the assets of Toronto-based AGS Software,
including the POS software developed by AGS. The POS application offers
extensive storefront automation, an intuitive web-based interface and
support for multi-site operations. An addition to ACCPAC’s suite of
end-to-end business management applications, the
product is fully integrated with ACCPAC “Advantage Series” accounting
software. The product will be marketed as ACCPAC “ePOS.”


VISA Canada reported that its cardholders spent $772 million shopping
online during the 2002 holiday season, representing 6.4 million
transactions. The gain in sales volume represents a 103% gain over the
previous year. Fifteen percent of credit card holders with access to the
Internet intended to purchase holiday gifts online, acccording to a poll
conducted by Maritz: Thompson Lightstone between November 21-26. By
comparison, 85% of credit card holders with Internet access were unlikely
to make online purchases, the leading reason — cited by a quarter of
respondents — were security issues and fraud concerns. The study also
determined that among those likely to use a credit card online, an
overwhelming number — 48% — said they would be more comfortable if they
were asked as part of the transaction for a password registered with their


The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has launched a new Web site to fight
cross-border fraud.The most common cross-border frauds perpetuated in
Canada against U.S. residents include phony prize promotions, foreign
lottery schemes, advance-fee loan scams, fraudulent travel offers, and
unnecessary credit card loss “protection” offers. The Web site contains
information on recent FTC law enforcement actions against cross-border scam
artists, as well as FTC coordination with law enforcement agencies in other
countries to combat this multi-billion dollar problem.


CIBC reported that it’s the annual cash payout to CIBC “Dividend
VISA” and “Dividend Platinum VISA” credit card customers exceeded $25
million. The rebates, based on 2002 cardholder purchase volume, were down
16% compared to 2001, presumably due to the softness in overall credit card
volume in Canada produced by the global weak economy. This year, CIBC says
active card users are now receiving annual cash rebates ranging from $50 to
$900. CIBC “Dividend VISA” and “Dividend Platinum VISA” cardholders earn
cash rebates of up to two per cent on every purchase. The rebate is
credited at the end of the
year. Since the inception of the cards in 1998, cardholders have earned
more than $100 million in cash rebates.

VISA Canada Releases Updated Owner’s Manual and Holiday Survey Results

Canada Safeway has signed a multi-year agreement to renew as a “Sponsor”
in the “AIR MILES Reward Program.” The program is operated by Alliance Data
Systems Corp’s subsidiary, The Loyalty Group.
Canada Safeway has been part of the program since its inception in 1992.
More than 60% of Canadian households, or 12.5 million Canadians, actively
collect “AIR MILES” reward miles. “AIR MILES” reward miles can be redeemed
for more than 500 different rewards, such as travel, movie passes,
entertainment attractions, and electronic merchandise.


Toronto-based CellBucks Payments Network has installed a new wireless
payment service at Georgia USA’s Laurel Springs Golf Club. The CellBucks
service enables golfers to order food and beverages via their mobile phones
and have it caddied to them on the golf course. Once the customer has
selected their menu items, they’ll dial the toll free telephone number
provided on the menu and enter their pass code. The customer then selects
numbered items that correspond with the menu selections, routing them
through an automatic validation and credit card authorization process, with
a final order transmission through to the kitchen. The refreshments are
delivered to the customer and an e-mail detailing the day’s transactions
will also be sent to the customer as further confirmation of the member’s
account activity. The Laurel Springs Golf Course is owned and operated by a
joint venture between ClubCorp and Golden Bear International.