RETAIL SALES

Retail sales on credit and debit cards were up 4.6%, or $507 million, during the first two weeks of December. Moneris Solutions says its data show that card spending in stationery stores is up 12%, while grocery store spending is up 10% and card spending in furniture stores is up 9%. The travel and entertainment sector is up 8%, or $161 million. Other retail segments: book stores +8%; travel and entertainment +8%; and, music stores +7%. Restaurants across Canada experienced an approximate 2.5% increase in dollar volume spending. A recent survey of over 2,100 Canadians conducted for Moneris by Ipsos-Reid revealed that four in ten Canadians say they are “last-minute” shoppers and almost three quarters of the survey’s respondents selected debit or credit card as the payment form they will use most often when shopping this season.

U.S. Bank Offers VISA Buxx in Branches

U.S. Bank, the first bank to issue “VISA Buxx” in 2000, is now making the teen payment card available at all its branches. Visa Buxx is designed for parents and teens. Parents use the Visa Buxx Card to teach teens age 13 or older money management skills and financial responsibility. Since Visa Buxx is a prepaid card, there is no risk of credit card debt. The company operates 2,201 banking offices and 4,506 ATMs, and provides a comprehensive line of banking, brokerage, insurance, investment, mortgage, trust and payment services products to consumers, businesses and institutions. U.S. Bancorp is the parent company of U.S. Bank and is on the web at usbank.com.

Tupperware Representatives to have Mobile Card Services via CreditPipe

MTN, one of the largest cellular network providers in Africa, has signed agreements with Tupperware in South Africa to provide mobile credit card processing and check guarantee facilities for the group’s 15,000 field sales representatives through CreditPipe. MTN is the marketing and delivery partner of CreditPipe. The first implementation is scheduled to go live in Ghana by the second quarter. CreditPipe is the wholly owned subsidiary of Celtron International’s Orbtech Holdings Limited subsidiary.

VISA and MasterCard Put the Lawsuit Behind

In response to the final order in the Wal-Mart debit card litigation, MasterCard said it was glad that Judge John Gleeson upheld as fair the agreement settling all claims in the class-action antitrust lawsuit. MasterCard was also pleased that he affirmed the broad release of MasterCard and its members from claims that should or could have been included in the merchants’ lawsuit against MasterCard, including pending cases with the potential for significant financial exposure. MasterCard says that with the lawsuit over, and Judge Gleeson’s affirmation of the broad release from copycat and related suits that tried to ride on the coat-tails of the merchant lawsuit, it can return to focusing all of its attention on being the best business partner for its customers and the best choice for consumers. VISA says that while the settlement order is an important milestone in resolving the retailers’ litigation, it continues its focus on capturing more of the $4.8 trillion that is still spent using cash or checks. VISA says its steadfast focus on growing the debit category is succeeding, as debit usage continues to increase. VISA says that between May and August of this year, VISA’s debit volume was up a robust 24%.

KEB Suspends Cash Advances as LG Card Bidding is Underway

Korea Exchange Bank announced yesterday it has suspended cash advance services on its credit cards due to a cash shortage. Last week, LG Card, which is currently up for sale with bidding to close December 30th, also limited its credit card cash advances until emergency loans were provided. Kookmin, Woori Bank and Nonghyup provided LG Card with 300 billion won in short-term loans to tide the issuer over till the end of this month. KEB Credit Service, now controlled by US-based Lone Star, has used up 350 billion won in new capital provided last month. Samsung Card also reported a cash shortage last week and is looking for a capital infusion of more than one trillion won from its parent company, Samsung Electronics. The Financial Supervisory Service reported earlier this month that overall credit card delinquency increased during October to 11.74%, compared to 6.6% at the end of 2002. LG Card had a 11.40% delinquency rate.

Cashcard Australia is being Purchased by First Data Corporation

Cashcard Australia Limited is in the process of being acquired by First Data. Cashcard currently serves more than 50 member financial institutions, several thousand merchants, and has processed around 2.5 billion EFT payments since 1993. The company, founded in 1983 by Australian Building Societies, offers ATM, EFTPOS, Direct Entry and BPay, telephone and Internet payment services. FDC says the acquisition will create new opportunities for clients of both companies by expanding the delivery of services such as credit and debit POS processing, deployment of merchant ATMs, check authorization and money transfers. Pacific Road Corporate Finance of Sydney advised First Data on the transaction. JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs JB Were are advising Cashcard on the transaction. Details on the transaction were not disclosed but it is expected to close during the first quarter.

CSFI and Paragon are Testing ATM EMV

FL-based CSF International says it is currently testing EMV support for “ConfigBuilder,” the ATM configuration and screen design component of Paragon’s “WorkSmart ATM Suite”. The partnership between Paragon and CSFi formed in 1995, when CSFi began distributing ConfigBuilder to complement its line of ATM/POS applications. CSFi now distributes all the components of the WorkSmart ATM Suite, including ATMulator for desktop ATM simulation and FASTest for automated transaction testing and message verification. Paragon and CSFi now have 34 mutual customers. CSF International is a leading provider of ATM/POS terminal driving and transaction switching software. Paragon, a premier source of ATM development and testing tools, and CSFi, a leading provider of open systems software to the financial services industry worldwide, have enjoyed a long, successful working relationship and are committed to providing EMV development and testing capabilities to their mutual customers.

CPI Card Hires Sales Exec & Retires Two

CPI Card Group has hired Jay Schwisow, formerly of Teraco, as a National Accounts Manager, while Jim Roberts and Jerry Romano retire. Jay brings 11 years of high level card industry experience and a wealth of information to our company. He has pioneered some industry standards, and has a strong understanding of the card manufacturing process, including relationships with equipment and material suppliers. CPI Card Group, a world leader in plastic card manufacturing for over 20 years, offers a single source for plastic cards-from foil cards and holograms, to translucent and smart cards-with services that include card design, manufacturing, personalization, fulfillment and mailing.

Presidion to Offer Payroll Passport Cards

iWire has signed MI-based Presidion Corporation, which has 2,600 client companies and management of 34,000 worksite employees, to offer its “Payroll Passport” ATM cards. Use of the Payroll Passport ATM card offers the flexibility of a direct deposit program; Presidion’s client companies load the cards with the worksite employees’ net pay, which is immediately accessible with a secure PIN at more than 900,000 ATM locations on the Cirrus(R) network, the largest single ATM network in the world, and at over 25,000 surcharge-free ATMs on the Allpoint(R) Network. Presidion provides human resources, regulatory compliance and employee benefits management services to approximately 34,000 worksite employees. iWire, Inc. is the parent company to Payroll Passport. With offices in Miami Lakes, FL; Atlanta, GA; and New York, and with a world-class data center in Orlando, FL, iWire provides all of the transaction processing infrastructure that powers the Payroll Passport Card.

STV TurboCard Launched for Corporate Market

CA-based Victory Capital Holdings, and its Global Card subsidiary, have launched a stored value card product aimed at the corporate affinity card market. TurboCard (www.turbocard.com) is a multifunctional stored value card with the same features as a credit or debit card, combined with the convenience of prepaid long distance, prepaid Internet, prepaid wireless, and a loyalty points program — all in one. Victory Capital Holdings Corporation is designed to leverage the assets of existing, proven technologies and to infuse those assets with marketing, management and financial support to become the recognized leader in its space.

ATM Installed Base in Europe is Up 6%

A new research report has found that the installed base of ATMs in Europe grew 6% last year to 283,590 machines, and that Germany, Spain, UK, France and Italy now account for 77% of the region’s ATMs. Also, the UK has become the fastest-growing ATM market in western Europe with nearly 41,000 machines, and as a result, the UK overtook France last year as the region’s third-largest ATM market. Germany, the region’s largest ATM market, has 50,487 machines, and second place Spain has 49,925 installations. The study by Retail Banking Research found that during 2002 there were 10.8 billion cash withdrawals at western Europe’s ATMs, an increase of 2% over 2001. Since the installed base grew faster than the number of cash withdrawals, the average usage level fell to 3,173 withdrawals. The total value of withdrawals, however, increased by 9% to EUR1,215billion in 2002. The average value of a cash withdrawal in 2002 climbed to EUR113. Italy has the lowest number of cash withdrawals per machine, but the average withdrawal value is high; Italians visit ATMs infrequently but withdraw large sums of cash at a time. RBR also found that the average ATM in Sweden is used 11,300 times per month and that the average value of a cash withdrawal is highest in Switzerland, with EUR248. Retail Banking Research has published the annual “ATMs and Cash Dispensers Europe 2003” report since 1983.