Affluent Middle Income Market to Emerge

MasterCard released a report indicating a dynamic transformation of Malaysia’s consumer market over the next decade that will result in the emergence of an affluent middle income market by 2013. The study
concludes that by 2013, Malaysia’s real GDP per capita will reach RM21,500 and income per household will be at RM47,400. The highest and upper/middle income groups will be the most significant consumers in Malaysia, commanding a total spending power of RM257 billion. The MasterCard Insights report also highlights that by 2013, there will
be four lifecycle stages that will stand out prominently – the young
singles, young married with children under 10 years, older married with
children below 20 and the empty nesters.

VISA Offers a Currency Conversion Calculator

VISA has unveiled a new currency conversion Web site for consumers to approximate the rate that cardholders will receive when using their card internationally. Users also need to know the optional issuer mark-ups (1%-4%) that some banks assess on international transactions. As of April 1st, VISA assesses a 1% “International Service Assessment” to issuers. Previously VISA charged issuing banks a 1% multi-currency conversion fee. The ISA is not a currency conversion fee. The ISA is charged to issuers on same currency, cross-border transactions like dynamic currency conversion. Most top issuers have boosted their markups from 2% to 3% as of April 1st. The VISA rate used for the calculator is selected from a range of rates available in wholesale currency markets or the government-mandated rate in effect one day prior to the applicable central processing date.

BP PetroChina Installs NCR RealPOS Terminals

BP PetroChina is installing NCR “RealPOS 30” terminals in its “Express” convenience stores across Guangdong Province. BP PetroChina currently operates 382 retail service stations in Guangdong, 200 of which include “Express” convenience stores. The NCR “RealPOS 30” offers a compact design and the terminal can be configured as a diskless thin-client or full-function disk-based POS system. It provides interfaces for serial- and USB-based retail peripherals and includes a powered printer port for improved cable management. The new terminal was introduced in China last year.

Barclaycard Approves VeriFone/YESpay Service

YESpay and VeriFone announced that full Barclaycard Business
approval has been received for YESpay’s end-to-end “Chip and PIN” bureau
service, “EMBOSS,” with VeriFone’s “SC 5000” secure consumer-facing payment solution. “EMBOSS” helps retailers migrate their existing EPoS estates to “Chip and PIN” at a cost equivalent to a bank-owned terminal. Hosted at Transaction Network Services, the IP-based bureau service provides high-speed authorization and settlement of credit and debit card transactions, and is now available with VeriFone’s “SC 5000.”
“EMBOSS” supports a variety of connectivity options.

POSTBANK & AMEX

Postbank is gearing-up to launch the first American Express cards in Bulgaria. The new cards will be available as a standard credit card and a “Gold” credit card. The standard card offers a minimum credit line of BGN 1000 and the annual fee is BGN 50. The “Gold” card offers a minimum credit line of BGN 5000 and the annual fee is BGN
120. The cards will be available mid-April. Postbank says it will also acquire new merchants in Bulgaria to accept the American Express Card at their establishments.

Fraudulent Financial Spam More than Doubles

A comprehensive analysis of spam messages sent last month shows that financial fraud now accounts for 9% to 11% of global spam, up from 3% to 5% a year ago. According to the research, South Korea is the largest source of spam and the vast majority of spammers continue to host their Web sites in China. The study by CA-based Commtouch Lab shows phishing continues to be the single most dangerous type of email fraud, accounting for larger financial losses than any other scheme. However, stock manipulation schemes are most prevalent. According to a report released two weeks ago by the Anti-Phishing Working Group, there were more than 13,000 unique phishing attacks during February. The APWG says it is witnessing a disturbing uptick in field reports of malicious code being employed to either filter consumers’ logins and passwords from their keystrokes or to redirect them to convincing counterfeit sites even when observing the “best practice” of directly keying a bank’s URL into the browser’s address bar (so-called “Pharming”). The AWPG also has been watching so-called “technical subterfuge” attacks. (CF Library 3/29/05).

Experian-Scorex Unveil the Collect System

Experian-Scorex has introduced a new collections and debt recovery solution in the United Kingdom. The new “Collect” allows financial service organizations to adopt a more strategic and analytical approach to their customer service, collections and debt recovery. It provides a flexible and automated infrastructure supporting the complete collection process, from pre-delinquency to late collections and write-offs. “Collect” is part of the “Strategy Management” suite of solutions in the US and used by more than 600 clients in over 60 countries.

HSBC Offers a 3-Month Holiday on Cards

HSBC has launched its “Take 3 Months Off” promotion to both new and existing cardholders who transfer their credit card balance
from other banks to a credit card from HSBC. HSBC is charging a 0% interest on balance transfers for three months. In addition, the card will be fee free for the first year, with cardholders receiving “Air Miles” on the transferred balance. HSBC Bank Middle East Limited has 29 branches throughout the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Bahrain, Qatar, Jordan, Lebanon and the Palestinian Autonomous Area, including an offshore banking unit in Bahrain.

Kiwibank Inks an 8-Year Deal with Certegy

Kiwibank has signed an eight-year agreement for credit card processing services from Certegy. The bank says the functionality, flexibility and reliability of Certegy’s “BASE2000” platform should enable it to increase efficiency, introduce new products more quickly and better serve customers. Kiwibank is a wholly-owned subsidiary
of New Zealand Post Limited, headquartered in Wellington, New Zealand.
Kiwibank operates the largest bank branch network in New Zealand.
Certegy is the largest credit card processor in the New Zealand market.

TRM ATMs Deployed in Some Wal-Mart Stores

TRM Corporation will install its ATMs in over 150 Wal-Mart locations and provide a complete turn-key service and maintenance solutions. The spring roll out expands on TRM’s established relationship with Wal-Mart Canada where TRM currently provides exclusive photocopier services to all 256 Wal-Mart locations. TRM Corporation is a consumer services company that provides convenience ATM and photocopying services in high-traffic retail environments in over 45,000 locations worldwide.

VeriFone and Paymentech Certify New Edge

Vancouver, WA-based New Edge Networks has been awarded certification for an end-to-end solution allows merchants to keep their existing POS systems that currently use dial-up telephone lines, yet make the move to broadband networks that use different high-speed transmission protocols. New Edge Networks provides managed network services for multi-location wide area networks (WANs).

RewardsNOW Introduces Music Downloads

NH-based loyalty marketing specialist, RewardsNOW, has introduced a new service for banks or credit unions that enables their credit or debit cardholders to download music with their rewards points. Designed as a completely online, do-it-yourself rewards program, “Music RewardsNOW” offers access to a library of more than 800,000 songs, each available for a small number of rewards points. The new program was jointly designed by RewardsNOW and technology developer PF Rewards. The songs, from Real Networksâ™ database of hundreds of thousands of songs, can be downloaded in formats such as MP3 or iPod, either to computers or handheld devices. One of its early Music RewardsNOW customers is Clout Financial Services, a provider of credit cards and other financial services to the college and young professional market. The Company says the program will be further expanded with the addition of downloadable wireless phone ringtones later this year.