CardFlash Looks Back to April 2007

First Data signs a deal to be acquired by an affiliate of Kohlberg Kravis Roberts for about $29 billion. MasterCard launches a “MasterCard Nearby” service trial that allows MasterCard cardholders to use their mobile phones to access information on ATM and merchant locations, driving directions, rewards, special offers, etc. Discover renames the “Discover Platinum Card” as the “Discover More Card” and the “Discover Gas Card” as the “Discover Open Road Card.” Marshall & Ilsley confirm plans to split Marshall & Ilsley and Metavante into independent public companies. Wells Fargo launches the “Wells Fargo Home Rebate VISA.” AL-based Coca-Cola Bottling Company United begins equipping its vending machines with USA Technologies’ “e-Port G6” to accept “MasterCard PayPass” contactless payments as well as traditional magnetic stripe credit card payments. Affinion Group acquires CA-based CardCops, a specialist in ID theft protection, data monitoring and analysis technology solutions. VISA USA publishes its new interchange rates online that are effective April 14th. OR-based Chockstone has acquired MA-based Peppercoin, a small payments technology company providing card-based merchant loyalty programs and related consulting and analytical services. First Data confirms plans to acquire FundsXpress, a provider of online banking and bill payment services for consumers and small businesses. Wells Fargo becomes the first U.S. financial institution to make clean, renewable energy reward options available to its cardholders. Discover Network announces plans to roll-out “Discover ZIP,” its contactless payment solution. The U.S. House Financial Services Committee holds a hearing on “Credit Card Practices: Current Consumer and Regulatory Issues.”

TXT2GO

Travelers with Go North East can now purchase tickets with the new
“txt2go” solution. The new solution affords travelers a mobile
phone digital ticket almost immediately after purchase,
eliminating the need for customers to carry cash. Furthermore, with
“txt2go”, tickets can be ordered anytime and anywhere by sending the
appropriate text to a specified number. The initial step for establishing
an account requires customers to establish an on-line account at Go
North East’s website to allow funds to be added using a debit or credit
card. This will generate a funds pool for the purchasing of tickets. The new
solution is made possible thanks to the partnership with international IT
services, Atos Origin and Swiftpass.

Apex Merchant Solutions Launches eChecks

NY-based Apex Merchant Solutions has introduced eChecks for its merchant clients, charging a 1.5% to 2.0% per transaction fee. Other features of eChecks include user authentication, age verification a reduced liability window for charge backs, and 60 days for checks, compared to 180 days for credit cards. In addition to saving as much as 50% per transaction, eChecks also provides access to an estimated 10 million online households without a credit card, thus providing an additional revenue flow for the merchant. Apex creates payment processing solutions for retail, e-commerce, restaurant, professional and mobile businesses.

JALCARD

Japan Airlines is considering corporate shareholders for a possible
majority stake in its “JALCARD” credit card division. Among the 5
companies, down from 10, being considered to purchase the division
shares are Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc., Credit Saison Co.,
Mitsubishi Corp. and U.S. investment fund TPG. Mitsubishi UFJ
Financial Group and Credit Saison, however, are projected to win
consideration, which will ultimately be determined at the second round
of bidding before April of 2008. JALCARD currently has nearly 1.9
million cardholders with a total transaction volume of 1,650.5 billion
yen in 2006.

Fortress Financial Acquires Moneyworx

FL-based Fortress Financial Group, a shell corporation, has acquired Moneyworx, a reseller of U.S. domestic and international MasterCard debit cards. The Company plans on launching its own “Fortress” branded International Debit Card this year and will focus its energies on cardholder acquisition through an extensive marketing campaign and the use of Internet Marketing technologies. The Company’s Management has spent extensive time in ensuring that the new web site contains exhaustive information and it is expected the site will go live very shortly.

PUDONG & CITI

Shanghai Pudong Development Bank is proposing Citigroup raise
its investment stake for 2008. Citigroup currently holds 3.8% share
in Pudong Development Bank and is given the option to up this
figure to 19.9%, primarily for the credit-card and corporate
governance divisions. The bank is projecting annual loans of just
over CNY80 billion for 2008, similar to the 2007 figure, however,
with a lower rate of 15%. Furthermore, the bank’s 2007 net profit
was CNY5.5 billion, up 64% from the 2006 figure, and currently has
nearly 370 branches throughout China.

NCR Xpress Gift Card Kiosk Coming

Next week NCR will unveil a new self-service kiosk for gift cards called: “NCR Xpress Gift Card”. NCR Xpress Gift Card can work with any NCR “EasyPoint” kiosk and can be integrated with any point-of-sale system. NCR’s Professional Services and Human Factors Engineering groups work with each retailer to customize a gift card program tailored to fit its specific business needs. In an NCR survey, two-thirds of consumers said they expected to purchase at least one gift card during the holiday season. Those whom purchase at least one gift card will buy, on average, more than seven gift cards per year.

FLEXION DISTRIBUTION

For the South Korean distribution of its Flexion batteries, Solicore has
partnered with BlueChip ENP Distribution Co. These agreements came
to fruition following BlueChip’s Solicore preposition, which culminated
with its analysis that found possible growth opportunities. For example,
the Flexion batteries may be useful for organizations designing secure
bankcards and provide components needed for compliance with OTP
applications. Solicore provides embedded power solutions and advanced
battery technology, such as the Flexion products, while BlueChip ENP Co.,
Ltd. is a Korea-based electronic components distributor.

Retailers Report Dismal Sales in December

While Wal-Mart posted a 5.6% gain in retail sales for December and Macy’s was up 1.1% and Saks 0.8%, other retailers posted dismal results. Nordstrom reported a 3.8% decline and Limited Brands was down 8.0% in December sales, compared to one-year ago. Chico’s was off 13.7% while Ann Taylor declined 13.1% and Gottschalks dropped 13.8% in December. The National Retail Federation projected $474.5 billion in holiday retail sales, a 4% increase over 2006. Holiday sales in 2006 rose 5%. Over the last ten years, the average percentage increase in sales for the holiday season is 4.8%. Most of the retailers reporting today expect to post lower fourth quarter earnings than expected. Yesterday, the British Retail Consortium reported that retail sales rose 30 basis points in December compared with a year ago. According to the International Council of Shopping Centers same-store sales for December are expected to be up about 1%, indicating total sales for the holiday season rose only 2.25% in the U.S. (CF Library 9/21/07)

TASQ & HYPERCOM

Metavante Technologies has acquired Nomad Payments Ltd for $58 million. The deal will add roughly 1% to Metavante’s projected 2008 revenue. Nomad provides its
services for various payment providers and is known in the industry for
delivering innovative products and solutions such as “fit-for-purpose”
prepaid processing, developing card production, PIN production and
authorization while Metavante Technologies provides banking and payments
technologies to over 8,600 financial organizations around the world.

Gift Cards Projected to Top $52B by 2012

A new report suggests that gift card sales will rise nearly $14 billion over the next five years. MD-based Packaged Facts predicts the gift card market will grow 5%, topping $52 billion by 2012. The research firm notes that gift cards, which lead the closed-loop segment of the $81 billion prepaid card market, have been gaining credit since 2002, accounting for more than 4% of the market since 2005. Nearly 35% of consumers who purchased gift cards in the last 12 months anticipate spending more on gift cards during the next 12 months, with 9.1% expecting to spend “significantly more.” Fifty-three percent of gift card redeemers often or always spend more than the card value, and most likely over two store visits rather than one.