Wawa Joins Debitman’s Retailer’s Network

Mid-Atlantic convenience store chain Wawa has joined “The Retailer’s Network” operated by CA-based Debitman Card. Under the partnership a private-label “Wawa Check Card” will be issued. The card will reward customer loyalty with an initial $5.00 gift card after the first use, followed by cash rebates on every purchase. The initial phase is expected to last 90 days, followed by a potential chain-wide implementation. Wawa operates more than 550 stores. More than 200,000 merchant locations in the U.S. participate in Debitman’s “The Retailer’s Network,” including Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club and CVS. In August, WESCO Stores joined the Debitman Card payment network and is now issuing its own branded debit cards to customers at its 51 Michigan locations. Last month, Debitman Card was granted a patent for “Method And System For Facilitating Electronic Funds Transactions.” (CF Library 8/22/06; 9/28/06)

VISA EUROPE STATUS

VISA’s plans to become a publicly traded company does not include VISA Europe. VISA Europe will remain a membership association owned and governed by its 4,500 European banks. However, VISA Europe will be a minority stockholder in the proposed new global company, and the new VISA will have a minority investment interest in VISA Europe. VISA announced it is planning to combine VISA USA, VISA International and VISA Canada to form a single global public company called VISA Inc.
VISA Europe will become a licensee of VISA Inc. VISA says it expects the proposed restructuring will take between 12 to 18 months to complete. Under the new structure the public will own a majority of the new company and the majority of the directors will be independent. A search for independent directors and a CEO for VISA Inc. is underway. VISA is the largest payment card network in the world with more than a 1.4 billion cards in circulation, and is twice as large as it nearest competitor by nearly all measures. Last year VISA Europe posted more than one trillion euros in gross “Consumer Expenditure Value.”

Pay By Touch Debuts the TrueMe Device

San Francisco-based Pay By Touch has introduced “TrueMe,” the first secure, on-demand biometric authentication service on the Internet. TrueMe (http://www.trueme.com) gives PC users a fast, easy and secure way to identify themselves, interact and transact on the Web using their fingerprints. By simply sliding a finger on a TrueMe-certified finger sensor, users can securely access their Web-based accounts with no need to remember IDs, passwords or account numbers. TrueMe is quick and easy to use and, most importantly, safe. Pay By Touch (www.paybytouch.com) is wowing the world one touch at a time as the leader in biometric authentication, personalized marketing and payment solutions.

AmEx Expands/Enhances Starwood Cards

American Express has beefed-up its co-branded Starwood Hotels & Resorts cards with the introduction of a small business credit card and an upgraded consumer credit card. Both cards will now offer a bonus of 10,000 “Starpoints” for the first purchase, which is enough for up to three free nights. Other new features include double “Starpoints” on Starwood stays and an automatic upgrade to “Gold Preferred Guest” membership status by spending $30,000 on the Card in each calendar year. Additionally, both cards will offer double points and access to private sales with select Starwood retail outlets. The “Starwood Preferred Guest Business Credit Card” will also include the “OPEN Savings” program and expense management reporting. Starwood and AmEx have had a co-branded card partnership since 1996, when AmEx first launched the “ITT Sheraton ClubMiles Card.”

ITPS Becomes National Processing Company

Iron Triangle Payment Systems has changed its name to National Processing Company following its recent acquisition of a BA Merchant Services business unit. NPC will continue to support multiple brands in the market, including Retriever and the registered marks of its ISO clients. Based upon the number of merchants served, the combined business will rank as the 6th largest merchant acquirer in the United States and process more than $25 billion in purchase volume. BA Merchant Services is part of Bank of America and is responsible for providing card processing services to more than one million merchant locations. NPC is the largest provider of payment processing services exclusively focused on small and medium sized merchants in the United States, and the leading merchant acquirer focused on the ISO segment.

First Data is Off Rating Watch Negative

Fitch Ratings has affirmed and removed First Data from “Rating Watch Negative” following the completed spin-off of The Western Union Company. Due to First Data’s significant size and market position, Fitch expects that the company will continue to benefit from economies of scale. First Data’s growth strategy has historically been focused on a combination of acquisitions and organic growth, and Fitch believes this will continue to be the case. Fitch’s rating definitions and the terms of use of such ratings are available on the agency’s public site, www.fitchratings.com.

Paz’s Yellow C-Stores to Distribute OTI’s EasyPark

Paz, the country’s top energy company, will distribute On Track Innovations’ “EasyPark” devices and integrate contactless readers into its point-of-sale terminals to enable loading of “EasyPark” devices.
With about 250 Yellow Convenience stores nationwide Paz’s Yellow will more than double the number of loading stations for “EasyPark” across the country. Yellow now sells “EasyPark devices as well as enables adding value to “EasyPark” devices. Today “EasyPark” total volume is approximately $1 million per month. The addition of the readers to Yellow stores is expected to increase “EasyPark” volume by about 20%.

CMB and AirPlus to Launch a New Corporate Card

China Merchants Bank and AirPlus have signed a corporate agreement to offer a new corporate card. The product will be released this month. The new corporate card is based on the “CMB Gold Card” and carries enhanced functionalities. Billing and settlement currencies are both the Chinese Yuan and the U.S. Dollar – local transactions are billed and settled in CNY/RMB, international transactions are billed in USD, and can be settled either in CNY/RMB or USD. The corporate card can be used to access funds at ATMs within China as well as abroad.
Additionally, China Merchants Bank will offer a customer loyalty
program, tailored specifically to the needs of the business traveler.

FreeStar Revenue Up 30%; Transactions Rise 16%

Dublin-based FreeStar Technology reported that revenue rose 30% and that the number of transactions processed climbed 16% in the fiscal year, ended June 30th. Revenue hit $2.1 million from $1.6 million in fiscal 2005 driven by software development income and higher payment processing volume. FreeStar’s wholly owned subsidiary Rahaxi Processing had transaction volume of 18 million, up from 15.5 million in fiscal 2005. The Company’s net loss for the period narrowed 36% to $13.99 million from $22.10 million in the prior fiscal year, largely as a result of a reduction in SG&A costs.

Cubic Wins a Frost & Sullivan Award

Frost & Sullivan has selected Cubic Transportation Systems as the recipient of the “2006 Industry Innovation & Advancement of the Year Award” in the smart card mass transit market. Cubic Transportation Systems (Cubic) is a turnkey solution provider for the automated fare collection system used in public transit systems including bus, rail, ferry, and even ticketing for parking applications. Its ability to translate customer requirements into innovative and reliable solutions that are both convenient and state-of-the-art has translated into a large customer base of operators who count on Cubic to provide regular technology upgrades that keep their mass transit systems operating in the most efficient manner.

Global Axcess Closes Coin Security Deal

Global Axcess has closed on the sale of the remaining 50% of its South African subsidiary, Cash Axcess, to Coin Security Group. Global Axcess Corp, through its wholly owned subsidiary, Nationwide Money Services, provides turnkey ATM management solutions that include cash,
project and account management services. NMS currently owns and operates
over 4,600 ATMs in its national network spanning 42 states and provides
proprietary ATM branding and processing for 83 financial institutions with over 700 branded sites nationwide.