Alpha Bank Adds More VeriFone Terminals for the Olympics

Alpha Bank has ordered 1,300 VeriFone “Omni 3750” terminals to be installed for the Olympics. VeriFone is also kicking off a new advertising campaign focusing on the 30,000 locations in Greece where VeriFone POS terminals are installed. The latest contract brings the total number of VeriFone terminals used by Alpha Bank, the second largest bank in Greece, to more than 16,000. VeriFone has sold more than 30,000 “Omni 3750” terminals in the Greek market since its launch, and has more than 100,000 VeriFone terminals currently in operation in Greece today.

MAESTRO 1Q/04

MasterCard reported that its “Maestro” online debit program crossed the 500+ million cards-in-force milestone during the first quarter, a 40% jump over the first quarter of 2001. “Maestro” is now accepted at over 10 million merchant terminals in 93 countries, with almost 1.5 million merchant locations in the USA. At the end of March, MasterCard had 524 million cards worldwide carrying the “Maestro” brand, with $329 billion in gross dollar volume for the first quarter. Europe continued to be the largest cardholder base for “Maestro” with 242.3 million cards, a 7% increase over the same period in 2003. GDV for online debit activity in the region for the first quarter was $261.6 billion. The number of “Maestro” cards issued in Asia/Pacific was 143.9 million with GDV of $43.1 billion for the first quarter. In Latin America, “Maestro” card numbers doubled to 68.3 million cards, compared to the end of the first quarter in 2003. GDV for online debit activity in the region for the
first quarter was $9.5 billion. The South Asia, Middle East and Africa region also experienced exceptional card growth with a 40.1% increase to 22.5 million cards at the end of the first quarter, compared to the end of the first quarter of 2003. GDV for online debit activity in the region for the first quarter of 2004 was $14.8 billion.

MasterCard Platinum and Gold Cardholders get Gulf Air Discounts

MasterCard “Platinum” and “Gold” cardholders will get special deals from Gulf Air for premium travel when they book tickets between now and 31 August. The promotion, a first in the region, spans across seven markets in Asia/Pacific. During the promotional period,”Platinum” and “Gold” cardholders who book tickets with Gulf Air in first and business class from Bangkok, Hong Kong, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Manila, Singapore and Sydney to any destination on the Gulf Air network will benefit from an exclusive offer with the airline. Gulf Air offers an extensive route network, which covers over 45 destinations worldwide across Asia, Europe, the Gulf, Middle East, Indian Sub-continent and Australia.

Challenges Abound for Basel II Implementation

A new study has found that banks see significant challenges remaining in their preparations to implement the “Basel II Capital Accord.” The research, sponsored by Accenture, Mercer Oliver Wyman and SAP, indicate that U.S. and Asia-Pacific banks lag behind their European counterparts in several key areas of preparation for “Basel II.” “Basel II” updates and expands 1988 capital rules for risk-management practices that align capital more closely with operational, credit and market risks for banks operating internationally. The survey found that many banks have significant work remaining to satisfy the requirements of two of the three major elements of “Basel II:” setting up a risk-based supervisory structure within the bank and increasing market discipline through expanded disclosure. Nearly two-thirds of banks surveyed described their enterprise-wide risk management framework as poor or average. Just over 60% of respondents described their economic capital systems as poor or average. “Basel II” will also require banks to make significant changes to their business practices. Nearly 90% of survey respondents say change is likely in their operational risk management processes. In addition, almost 8 in 10 bank executives say that their credit risk management processes are likely to change. The survey found widespread expectations that “Basel II” will significantly affect lending. Slightly over half of bankers in the survey said they expect to expand unsecured retail loans, while 48% projected increased retail mortgages and 45% predicted more SME credit.

CMB VISA DEBIT

China Merchant Bank has launched the first VISA platinum debit card in Asia Pacific. The new card is targeted at high net worth individuals as well as business travelers. CMB is also launching a VISA gold debit card. CMB’s VISA platinum debit card is a dual currency US dollar and local RMB debit card which can be used both domestically within China, and internationally. Customers with a minimum of RMB 500,000 in their deposit and investment accounts are entitled to apply. Those with a minimum balance of RMB 50,000 can apply for the VISA gold debit card. The card will be issued in all 350 branch outlets across over 30 major cities in mainland China.In Asia Pacific, VISA has 86 member financial institutions who issued 38.4 million debit cards at the end of 2003.

On Track Innovations Sells Interest in e-Smart System

On Track Innovations has sold its 50% stake in the e-Smart System joint venture to its partner. The sale of OTI’s interest in the
e-Smart System joint venture is expected to result in multiple strong marketing channels for OTI’s products in the Asian market by enabling OTI to
focus on directly selling its SmartID products while e-Smart continues to distribute OTI’s micropayments and other products on a non-exclusive basis. For 2003, and the three-month period ended March 31st, the e-Smart Systems joint venture accounted for approximately 1% and about 0.6% of OTI’s total revenues on a consolidated basis, respectively. OTI designs, develops and markets secure contactless microprocessor-based smart card technology to address the needs of a wide variety of markets.

LEGIC Teams with UK-based Total Security Protection

Contactless smart card specialist, LEGIC Identsystems, has named Total Security Protection as its latest license partner in the United Kingdom. TSP handles the installation, maintenance and support of biometric access control, CCTV and electronic security systems for a wide range of commercial organizations throughout Europe in including credit card companies. TSP says the new LEGIC System Integrator’s license will be a great asset to the company and will allow them to incorporate LEGIC based readers and cards into customers access control systems to provide a total security solution.

California Drops Car Card Fees

The California Department of Motor Vehicles yesterday announced it is dropping its $4 credit card fee to encourage Internet renewals for vehicle registrations, effective today. When the DMV first launched Internet renewals four years ago, the department absorbed the merchant fee. But, after the first few months, the Legislature insisted the DMV begin passing the $4 fee along to customers. With the fee, roughly 4.5% of registration renewals (about 1 million transactions per year) have been handled by the Internet. However, the DMW says it has became clear that the fee was discouraging significant numbers of customers. DMV officials hope the elimination of the fee may increase Web renewals by more than 50%. The move is in response to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s directive to reduce lines and wait times at DMV field offices as quickly as possible.

Mosaic Supports the New Hypercom Terminal

Mosaic Software has certified the Hypercom “L4100” interface to Mosaic’s “Postilion” transaction processing software. Together, the Postilion solution and the L4100 terminal offer retailers the most secure, flexible, and efficient authorization system. Mosaic Software is a global EFT software company with over 200 customers in more than 40 countries. The Company’s Postilion represents the forefront of next-generation payment processing software. Hypercom is a chief provider of electronic payment solutions. Their comprehensive card payment terminals, network, and server solutions help merchants and financial institutions create revenue and increase profits.

NBK SIDECARD

The National Bank Of Kuwait SAK has launched the first “SideCard” in the Middle East, North Africa and Pakistan Region. The new “NBK Mini MasterCard” is 33% smaller with smoother and sleeker lines then the “Classic MasterCard” and can be attached to a keychain. The card is issued as a supplementary card and cannot be used at ATMs. NBK is the largest financial institution in Kuwait. In 2003, NBK reported a record net profit of $412 million (a 14% increase over the prior year) with a return on average equity of 27.7%, a return on assets of 2.27% and total assets of $18.4 billion.

Fair Isaac Beefs-Up LiquidCredit

Fair Isaac has released the latest version of its “LiquidCredit” decision engine, a browser-based instant credit decisioning solution that combines advanced analytics and process automation to help lenders evaluate consumer and small business loan applications and make more informed lending decisions. The tool is used by more than 300 financial institutions worldwide. “LiquidCredit v6.3” incorporates additional bureau-delivered credit risk scores, including Equifax’s “BEACON 5.0” and the companion industry option models, which offer more refined risk prediction and are more consumer-friendly due to improved inquiry logic. Additionally, the enhanced bureau data is available in a parsed format, giving users access to the specific data fields that bureaus return. These latest enhancements provide lenders with more flexibility in servicing their customers and determining the proper credit/pricing offer while effectively managing risk. Several new Fair Isaac clients have already chosen “LiquidCredit 6.3” as their credit decision engine, including Houston-based Sterling Bank.

Certegy Completes Saks Installation

Certegy has completed the installation of its check authorization platform at 62 Saks Fifth Avenue stores and 54 Off 5th stores. Certegy’s ability to manage risk under the current check services agreement with the Saks Department Store Group influenced Sak’s decision to convert its SFAE stores to the Certegy platform. Certegy serves over 329,000 retail outlets in North America, Europe, and Asia Pacific, making it the world’s leading provider of check risk management solutions. Saks Incorporated operates Saks Fifth Avenue Enterprises as well as its Saks Department Store Group, which includes 241 department stores.