Dubai-based Mashreqbank has launched a new credit card that utilizes the smart chip to reward repeat behavior as opposed to one-time transactional loyalty. The new “WOW! MasterCard” and “WOW! VISA” have more than 1,000 participating merchants with smart card readers that will rebate between 5% and 35% back to the cardholder. Merchants are also offering surprise rewards. The card uses the enhanced XLS payment solution developed by Welcome Real Time. Bank executives say cardholders can earn up to Dh6000 annually, based on spending patterns. Mashreqbank is making the card publicly available and will upgrade all of its 100,000 existing cardholders to the new program. Mashreqbank was the first bank to introduce credit cards in the UAE in 1982 and offers the popular “MashreqMillionnaire” credit card program. It is the largest private bank in the UAE with 34 branches.

Canadian Consumers Pay Steeply for Debit Transactions

A new study suggests that Americans saved more than $4.3 billion in debit fees last year when compared to the system utilized in Canada. The research by Dove Consulting for PULSE found that every major bank in Canada charges its customers a per-transaction fee every time they use their debit card. Canadian consumers pay a fee of C$0.50 to $0.60 for each electronic payment transaction, whether making a purchase or getting cash from an ATM. Canada has only eight major national banks, which control 93% of banking assets. By contrast, the U.S. has more than 17,000 banks and credit unions, and the eight largest banks control only 41% of banking assets. Canada has only one electronic payments system and consumers have access to only PIN-based debit. Furthermore, Canadian merchants pay no interchange fees for a debit transaction, whereas U.S. financial institutions receive revenue for use of their databases and for guaranteeing payment for every transaction. The study concludes the Canadian model is unlikely to be embraced in this country anytime soon.

ICBA/TCM Bank Add Five Community Agent Banks

ICBA Bancard and its TCM Bank subsidiary have signed five agent banks, including Country Bank of NYC; Liberty 1st Bank of Missouri; Farmers Savings Bank of Iowa; 1st United Bank of North Palm Beach; and Mercantile National Bank of Indiana. Total Card Management’s programs are delivered through ICBA Bancard’s wholly owned subsidiary, TCM Bank, N.A. Total Card Management’s newest participants have all joined the 20/20 agent bank program. ICBA Bancard is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Independent Community Bankers of America, “The Nation’s Leading Voice for Community Banks.”

Payment Cards in Europe 2004 is Released

Retail Banking Research has released its latest edition of a study on payment cards in Europe. The report covers the structure and nature of the card market in 17 countries with detail to the level of the individual card scheme. Statistical data include card numbers, transaction volumes and values by type of card and issuer, merchant outlets and numbers of point of sale terminals. Time series data illustrate the path and rate of evolution. Commentaries enable the reader to understand the dynamics of each national market and the key domestic issues. “Payment Cards in Europe 2004” comprises 700 pages and over 500 tables and charts and is available for US$ 8,700 or in a single country reports at US$1,275.

Excel Innovations Sues PayByTouch for Patent Violations

San Jose-based Excel Innovations has filed a lawsuit against San Francisco-based PayByTouch for alleged infringement on 18 of its U.S. patents, and seeks damages in excess of $20 million. The lawsuit is being closely watched by the financial and retail industries, as consumers have shown growing interest in the “tokenless biometric payment system” at issue in the case. Tokenless biometric payments have gained appeal with national retailers and the financial industry, benefiting from diminished smart card usage, increased adoption of biometrics, and the retail industry’s search for new ways to migrate consumers from cash and checks to lower-cost, more secure electronic payment methods.

VISA QSR Volume Doubles Last Year to $6.5 Billion

VISA USA reported yesterday that consumers made $6.5 billion in VISA card purchases at fast food establishments last year, a 105% increase over the previous year. More than two-thirds of that spending was attributed to “VISA Check” cards. Wendy’s currently has about 70% of its domestic restaurants accepting payment cards. However, less than 10% of all QSRs in the U.S. accept card payments. VISA estimates total QSR volume to be $138 billion annually. According to VISA’s research, 64% of VISA check cardholders who have used their cards at QSRs said they did so for the convenience, with half specifically citing speed and time savings as the primary benefits. Based on previous VISA studies the average payment card purchase runs about 30% higher than cash purchases in quick service restaurants.

TNS & Systech Simplify IP Processing Migration

Transaction Network Services and Systech have launched a joint solution to simplify the transition from legacy processing protocols to an IP infrastructure by combining Systech’s “Internet Payment Gateways” and TNS’ “TransXpress” secure Internet gateway solution. The two companies are bringing the speed and reliability of IP-based technologies to the point of sale (POS) with a joint solution consisting of Systech’s Internet Payment Gateways and TNS’ TransXpress® Secure Internet gateway solution. Systech Corporation is an industry leader in the design and manufacture of Internet Payment Gateways for electronic transaction markets. Transaction Network Services is one of the leading providers of business-critical, cost-effective data communications services for transaction-oriented applications.

Moneris Solutions Launches the First Private Merchant Processing IP Network

Moneris Solutions has launched the country’s first private merchant processing IP network, and a portfolio of IP solutions for debit and credit card payment processing. The Company says merchants have been dependent on legacy data and voice networks to handle card payment processing, but that has changed as these systems are outdated and costly. Moneris’ private IP network offers an added layer of segregation of traffic dedicated to POS transactions that ride over a partitioned, protected IP connection that is monitored 24 hours per day. Moneris says IP networks deliver transaction times equal to, or faster than, the best networks in the market today. Moneris’ “Multi Protocol Label Switching” network is the architectural foundation for all of Moneris’ current and future IP network options, including: “IP 3201” – an IP-based replacement for the x.25-based data communications format gradually being retired by telecommunications companies; “IP Corporate WAN” – allows integrated POS solutions or stand-alone terminals to connect from a store location to a central head office and then to Moneris’ transaction processing system using Moneris’ private IP network; and, “IP 3000” – designed for merchants who have, or would like to set up a host-to-host link with Moneris using a dedicated circuit provisioned into Moneris’ private IP network.

Lipman Raises $140 Million in a US IPO

Rosh Haayin-based Lipman Electronic Engineering became the first Israeli IPO in the US in more than 18 months. On January 28th, the firm sold 3,000,000 of its ordinary shares to raise $140 million. The offering represents about 23% of Lipman’s stock. Lipman has a market value of NIS 2.1 billion. The company says the proceeds of the offering will be used to expand into new markets, broaden product range, and make acquisitions. The offering is being managed by Merrill Lynch, HSBC Securities and Piper Jaffray. Lipman is a provider of electronic payment systems. Lipman offers products such as landline and wireless point-of-sale terminals, personal identification number pads, electronic cash registers, self-service systems that include automated teller machines, and related applications.

TNB Card Services Lands Another Card Portfolio

WI-based, 17,000 member Cloverbelt Credit Union, has sold its credit card portfolio to Dallas-based TNB Card Services with the assistance of AssetExchange. AssetExchange conducted the portfolio analysis, market valuation, and competitive bidding process on behalf of Cloverbelt Credit Union. Cloverbelt Credit Union, based in Wausau, WI, serves nearly 17,000 members and has more than $91 million in assets. TNB Card Services, located in Dallas, provides full-service credit and debit card processing, as well as, an agent issuing solution.

AOS-Hagenuk Joins The Smart Card Alliance

AOS-Hagenuk B.V. joined the Smart Card Alliance as a full member. The Company wants to establish sales, marketing and support services in the USA.
AOS-Hagenuk was formed recently as a result of a merger between Art of Security B.V. and Hagenuk Smart Card Solutions B.V. in the Netherlands. Major banks, such as ABN-AMRO, are long time customers of the firm. In the U.S. various projects are in progress via a partnership with First Data. The Company’s installed base today includes more than two million units. The Smart Card Alliance is a not-for profit, multi-industry association working to accelerate the widespread acceptance of multiple application smart card technology.