Barclays and US Airways Launch a Business Card

The fifth largest domestic airline has added a “Business MasterCard” to its fleet. US Airways and Barclays have introduced the new “US Airways Dividend Miles MasterCard BusinessCard” for small business customers. The rewards program includes: 15,000 “Dividend Miles” after the first purchase; the ability to earn up to 10,000 more “Dividend Miles” for balance transfers; two miles for every dollar spent on US Airways purchases; one mile for every dollar spent on all other purchases; extra miles for purchases made at US Airways’ select merchants; one complimentary “US Airways Club Day Pass” per year; $75 each year towards a “US Airways Club” annual membership fee; and the ability to convert up to 10,000 base miles into “Preferred” miles, which can be used to upgrade the cardholder’s elite status in US Airways’ frequent flyer program. The “Dividend Miles Business Card’ carries a $79 annual fee. The no-fee version of the “US Airways Dividend Miles BusinessCard” permits cardholders to earn “Dividend Miles” on all of their everyday business purchases. Benefits include: 5,000 “Dividend Miles” after the first purchase; the ability to earn up to 10,000 more “Dividend Miles” for balance transfers; one mile for every dollar spent on US Airways purchases; one mile for every two dollars spent on all other purchases; and extra miles for purchases made at US Airways’ select merchants.

PAY88 ONLINE EXPANSION

Pay88 has announced that its sales expansion for online, multi player
games is developing as projected with plans for expansion into the
Shanghai market. Following the recent success in the Chongqing market,
Pay88 will use similar techniques to penetrate the Shanghai market,
utilizing
new and established relationships. These developments are part of an effort
on behalf of Pay88 to accelerate sales of online, multi-player game cards
throughout China. Pay88 provides prepaid cards through an established
distribution network and online web presence over a secure platform for
transferring money and making online purchases. Over the next year,
the company plans to establish its services in 20 cities throughout the
country.

CHIP & PIN

The first chip and PIN transaction made with a Canadian MasterCard chip card was conducted at a Toronto-area spa and salon.
The transaction was made with a “BMO Mosaik MasterCard” at Tresses Spa and Salon on a Moneris POS terminal. Moneris Solutions has been providing merchants across the country with chip-compatible POS systems to accept chip cards with 75,000 chip-compatible payment devices in the
marketplace. A major market trial of chip cards will take place in Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario in a few months time and is a precursor to the national roll-out of chip cards. As a card issuer, “BMO Mosaik
MasterCard” is the largest MasterCard issuer in Canada and is preparing for the phased introduction of chip cards to its cardholders. MasterCard notes that more than 70% of payment cards issued in Europe are chip-enabled.

ICT GROUP Completes PCI Certification

PA-based ICT GROUP has successfully completed its security audit and achieved full certification as a Level 1 Service Provider under the Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standard. ICT GROUP worked with an independent audit firm to achieve official validation and certification for its products and services under the credit card industry’s PCI security standard. Certification involved a complete audit with a 12-step approval process, ensuring that ICT GROUP has built and maintained a secure network, protected cardholder data, maintained a vulnerability management program, implemented strong access control measures, regularly monitored and tested networks, and maintained an information security policy. ICT GROUP is a global provider of customer management and business process outsourcing solutions.

Credit Card Limit Utilization Spirals Upward

A NY-based research firm says that U.S. households now have access to an average of $26,317 of revolving credit on their cards while average incomes are around $60,000 and are increasingly turning to credit cards to bail them out of financial bumps. Synovate’s “Mail Monitor” service says the ratio of available credit to income has been steadily climbing, in line with inflation, over the past four years. However, in the last 12 months, it jumped from 50% to 56%. This 6% increase is more than double the annual rate of inflation and is a direct response to the current economic climate. U.S. households now own an average of 2.8 cards compared to 2.4 cards just four years ago. Synovate noted that revolving balances on credit cards are at an all time high with U.S. households now owing an average of $6,970 up from $5,084 just four years ago.

CONFERENCE BAY & GLOBALCOLLECT

Conference Bay conference portal and GlobalCollect payment service
have recently signed partnership agreements to allow patrons to make
reservations online using GlobalCollect’s “WebCollect” payment platform.
The “WebCollect” solution allows payment processing of all major
currencies and accepts all major credit cards. GlobalCollect
payment methods provided through the solution are accepted globally in
over 200 countries with many different methods. Conference Bay was
established for the purpose of providing resources that allow organizing,
visiting and speaking at conferences as snag-free as possible.

General Banking Fees Hit All-Time Highs

A new report has found that banking fees have hit all-time highs in several areas, including ATM surcharges of $1.78, bounced check fees of $28.32 and monthly service fees on interest checking accounts of $11.72. FL-based Bankrate says the most prevalent ATM surcharge is now $2.00, up from $1.50 in previous surveys. The ATM surcharge is assessed by 99 percent of the banks in the survey. The average fee charged by banks when their own customers use another bank’s ATM held steady at $1.25. This remains the lowest since 2002. The trend of the past couple years has been to enhance customer satisfaction by providing free or lower-cost access to non-bank ATMs. However, the fee-friendly policies often debut as a feature of certain accounts, rather than a bank-wide policy, though more banks are now instituting it across both interest and non-interest accounts.

Publicly-Traded Coinstar Hits 10 Year Mark

Coinstar celebrates its 10th anniversary as a publicly traded company. Coinstar pioneered self-service coin counting at retail in the early 1990s and to date the company has processed more than $15 billion in change in over 435 million consumer transactions. Building on this expertise, the company added three lines of business for the retail front-end and in the past decade has expanded its presence to more than 140 countries and grown from 3,200 retail locations to more than 60,000. Coinstar pioneered self-service coin counting at retail in the early 1990s and to date the company has processed more than $15 billion in change in over 435 million consumer transactions. Building on this expertise, the company added three lines of business for the retail front-end and in the past decade has expanded its presence to more than 140 countries and grown from 3,200 retail locations to more than 60,000. With the rapid growth and increasing demand for stored value products such as gift cards and prepaid debit cards, Coinstar seized the opportunity to include these services in its 4th Wall product portfolio. Coinstar’s various e-payment services are offered through more than 14,000 point-of-sale terminals, 400 stand-alone e-payment kiosks and 8,900 e-payment-enabled coin counting machines. As the program grew, Coinstar became the first provider to offer a gift card program to major retailers in the United Kingdom. In addition, with money transfer being one of the top services requested by retailers, Coinstar added money transfer to its e-payment offerings in 2006.

CAP ONE REWARDS CARD

Capital One has introduced a no-fee/”no-hassle” rewards card in response
to a recent survey suggesting such criteria is popular. The recent survey,
sponsored by Capital One, shows that only 10% of Canadian consumers
were satisfied with their current rewards card. Moreover, 42% of the
participants were bothered by annual fees and 42% were frustrated with
expiry dates on credit card rewards programs. In addition, 53% would
prefer a cash back reward, 26% prefer gift certificates, 24% would be
happy with merchandise, and 39% prefer travel rewards. Therefore,
Capital One’s rewards card also offers one reward mile for every dollar
spent, a “welcome” bonus of 5,000 miles with first purchase, no limit on
the
rewards customers can earn, no expiration on rewards for the life of your
account, and no blackout dates or seat restrictions among other consumer-
friendly features.

Tennessee Bank Switches to Elan Financial

TN-based Citizens Bank of Blount County has selected Elan Financial Services to provide credit card issuing solutions. Citizens Bank of Blount County has 11 branches and more than $301 million in assets. Elan provides card management, fraud monitoring, reporting and marketing tools to more than 3,000 financial institutions and currently manages more than 1,600 agent credit card programs.

Online Transactions to More Than Double by 2012

A new study shows that online transactions will more than double to reach $355.2 billion over the next five years. Javelin Strategy & Research says by 2012, 30% of Americans will turn to online alternative payments, instead of reaching to their wallet for a traditional credit card. The research predicts that online alternative transactions will more than double by 2012 as consumers increasingly view these methods as a vehicle for secure and convenient transactions. Traditional brands and methods will endure representing the largest dollar amount and percentage of total online transactions, but that percentage will slip to 44% by 2012, according to the study. Debit card reward programs and promotions continue to lure younger consumers and will help to nearly triple the debit card transaction volume to $93.9 billion by 2012. Javelin predicts that credit card use will continue to represent the largest dollar amount growth, but the percent of online transaction volume will decrease from 60% to 44% by 2012.