Firethorn Beefs-Up its M-Commerce Solution

Qualcomm’s Firethorn has beefed up its mobile banking solution to broaden its m-commerce functionality. The upgrade came as the result of a recent survey which revealed that 62% of consumers would be likely to use their mobile device to obtain bank account balance information; 28% would like to track loyalty accounts on their phone; and 32% want to receive coupons, while 23% want to receive product information on their mobile device. In response to the findings Firethorn has added three new
service features designed to give expanded marketing opportunities, “Offers Feature,” “Rewards Feature,” and “Customization Feature.” The new “Offers Feature” provides the ability to extend targeted promotions to users regarding products or services. The “Rewards Feature,” coupled with institution rewards programs, enables consumers to track their loyalty points for their financial institution accounts and, in the
future, for their merchant relationships. The “Customization Feature” allows providers to customize their services as programs evolve by adding desirable new functions in designated areas throughout the
application.

ATOS AWARD

Atos Worldline has won the 2008 Sesames Award for Best e-transactions Application for
its innovative “Fast Booking on ATM” solution, allowing
users to book and purchase event tickets on an ATM and also gives banks
a quick and simple way to turn their ATMs into a key sales channel.
Atos Worldline’s solution also gives banks a way to develop their ATM
base, which was primarily designed for banking transactions, and
provides ticket bookers with a new distribution tool that makes their
services even more accessible. Lastly, users benefit from the
convenience of 24/7 availability. Atos Worldline specialises in end-to-end
payment services including issuing, acquiring and developing payment
technology solutions; card processing; CRM & eServices (internet, voice
and mobile services with annual revenues of EUR 654 million.

Advanta Relaunches KivaB4B for Small Biz

Advanta has re-launched “KivaB4B.org”, an online community for small business owners share best charitable
practices, highlight their philanthropic models and develop new ways to
give back. The Project also helps small business owners increase the impact of
actual grants – large and small – to entrepreneurs in developing countries through
Kiva.org. If a small business owner uses an Advanta credit card to make a grant through
Kiva to an entrepreneur, Advanta matches the grant, dollar for dollar, up to $200 per account,
per month. KivaB4B.org provides participating small businesses with information and
resources to market their philanthropic activities to their community. In
addition, every week the site profiles a business owner who supports entrepreneurs in the
developing world through Kiva. Advanta recently released a new KivaB4B credit card for business
professionals who don’t own a business entity.

GEMALTO AWARDS

Gemalto has won the “Best Software” Sesames award at this year’s Cartes
& IDentification tradeshow and is demonstrating “Smart Card Web Mashups” at its booth. “Smart Card Web Mashups”
is the first implementation of the Java Card 3.0 specifications through
a technological solution that combines content
and applications from various Web server. One of the servers is embedded
in a USB device and provides personal data and services to the USB key
holder, such as a contact book, notes, passwords, videos or images. The
information is directly managed in a Web browser via applications like
YouTube or a Personal Information Manager (PIM) portal embedded in the
USB key. The mashup technology allows enriching the services stored in
the device with online content, or personalizing Web applications with
personal data.

LEVEL FOUR & POLARIS

Dunfermline-based ATM software provider Level Four has established a new global partnership with Polaris Software Lab Limited to offer a complete end-to-end outsourced testing solution. Customers who deploy BRIDGE:test as part of an outsourcing strategy with Polaris can achieve an optimal balance of cost and control as well as greater overall efficiency. Testing phases are shorter through a greater degree of automation and tests will be executed by testing professionals with specific ATM sector knowledge, according to a specially developed methodology by Polaris. Level Four’s BRIDGE suite of open standards ATM software products has been developed to address the needs of ATM deployers seeking to maximize their investment in the ATM channel.

G&D AWARD

Giesecke & Devrient’s “Touch&Travel” ProxSIM NFC-enabled SIM card
project was a winner of this year’s Sesames Awards. A joint program with Deutsche Bahn, Vodafone and
T-Mobile, the Touch&Travel project enables travelers to use their mobile
phone in place of a conventional ticket for public transportation.
Before boarding, users register for their trip by passing their
NFC-enabled cellphone in front of a reader integrated in a so-called
Touchpoint. The end of the trip is registered in the same way. A
background processor calculates the price of the journey on the basis of
the registration data, and displays it on the cellphone. Touch&Travel has been
operating successfully as a pilot project since February 2008. The
operators intend to recruit up to 2,500 test customers for the second
stage of the pilot project.

TransCard and Fishback Financial Partner

Stored value card provider Transcard has partnered with SD-based
Fishback Financial to offer bank sponsorship, card issuing, transaction
settlement and
many other fundamental services for TransCard’s prepaid card programs.
Fishback Financial Corporation has assets totaling more than $1.5 billion.
TransCard handles $1.4 billion in electronic transactions annually and
is a provider of prepaid debit card solutions branded
with Discover Network, MasterCard® and STAR associations.

CARDS 3Q/08

Payment card volume in the U.K. increased 8% year-on-year in the third
quarter hitting GBP 93.7 billion with a total of 1.9 billion
transactions. Debit cards accounted for 73.8% of all plastic card
purchases compared with 72.0% in 3Q/07. According to data collected by
APACS, credit card outstandings at the end of the third quarter were GBP
54.1 billion, compared to GBP 55.9 billion at the end of the third
quarter 2007. This is a 3.3% year-on-year increase. Bacs volumes and
values grew by 3.2% and 7.4% respectively over the 12 months through
September. Over the same period, the volume of total CHAPS payments fell
by 11.7% with a 22.6% fall in values, primarily due to the closure of
CHAPS Euro in May. CHAPS sterling volumes remained stable and values
rose by 10% over the year. The UK “Faster Payments Service” was launched
on May 27th. During September, 11.7 million payments had been processed
for a value of GBP 4.9 billion. Cheque and credit clearing volumes
declined by 10.6%, total values declined by 6.3%.

NCR SelfServ ATMs Certified by Major Nets

NCR has completed certification testing for
its new NCR SelfServ family of automated teller machines (ATMs) with
strategic ATM networks which include First Data, Elan, Metavante, Visa, Jack Henry,
Shazam, NETS, CSFI, ACI Worldwide, Inc., Postilion, Fifth Third
Processing System (FTPS), Fiserv and Fidelity National Information
Systems, formerly EFD (eFunds). The unique self-healing technology in NCR SelfServ allows the ATM to
automatically and quickly recover from “soft” failures with no need for
service intervention. In addition to increased consumer availability,
several NCR SelfServ enhancements make servicing faster and simpler,
especially for branch or cash-in-transit staff performing first-line
tasks. For example, NCR’s Self-Service Assistant, a robust graphic
operator panel with video and other unique capabilities, is an important
differentiating factor. It facilitates easier training of personnel who
can then manage any basic issues that may arise. This is another
important element of the overall efficiency built into this
first-of-its-kind technology.

Sinking Economy Heightens Buyer’s Remorse

Besides sagging sales, retailers are reporting that consumers are
experiencing more buyer’s remorse this season as a result of the down
economy, as they return more unworn and unused merchandise to stores. The
NRF found that return rates this will likely reach 8.7% of sales, up
from 7.3% one year ago. The amount of merchandise returned to stores
this year is estimated to reach $219.1 billion, with $47.1 billion of
those returns coming from holiday purchases. The NRF’s third annual
“Return Fraud Survey” also found that the number of retailers who said
their holiday return policy will loosen compared to last holiday season
will triple, from 3.4% to 11.0%. About 17.1% of retailers said their
return policy will tighten this holiday season, up slightly from 15.3%
last year. According to the survey, return fraud continues to plague the
industry and will cost retailers an estimated $3.54 billion this holiday
season, down slightly from $3.6 billion last year.

OCC Shoots Down FSR/CFA Concessions Pilot

The OCC this week responded to a proposal by The Financial Services
Roundtable and the Consumer Federation of America calling for
a pilot project that allows major credit card companies to dramatically
reduce the amount of money owed by heavily indebted borrowers who do not
qualify for currently-available repayment plans. The OCC says that while
it strongly encourages national banks to work with distressed borrowers,
the agency cannot approve a plan that defers the timely recognition of
losses, since that would compromise the transparency and integrity of a
bank’s financial reports and could lead to a loss of public confidence
in the banking system. The OCC said that the major lenders and credit
counseling firms interested in the FSR/CFA proposed pilot are failing to
differentiate between working with distressed borrowers and a desire to
simply acquire forbearance on loss recognition. Under the FSR/CFA
proposal lenders would forgive up to 40% of the amount consumers owe and
allow borrowers to pay back the remainder over time. (CF Library 11/03/08)

Alternative Payments – Payment Piranhas?

New research shows that alternative payments may capture nearly $8
billion of this year’s $35 billion online holiday shopping. The study
suggests that a new wave of alternative payments firms will continue to
emerge, further eroding traditional credit card usage online, but
preserving the role of financial institutions in payment transactions.
Javelin Strategy & Research says three emerging alternative payment
methods— eBillme, NACHA SVP and Moneta Value — leverage familiar
consumer processes and provide value to financial institutions by
enabling FI control over the transaction. Also, credit card issuers can
supplement slowing credit card volume with prepaid products and
store-branded and private-label credit cards are projected to have solid
growth, based on consumers migrating purchases from in-store to online.
Javelin noted that the overall projected growth for online payments is
expected to reach $148 billion in 2008, climbing to $268 billion by 2013.