CashStar & Maritz

Prepaid specialist CashStar and Maritz Motivation Solutions have inked a strategic partnership to power Maritz Motivation Solutions’ digital gift card offerings. The CashStar Commerce platform now enables Maritz Motivation Solutions to offer personalized digital gift cards from leading retailers and restaurants to its program participants as a reward option.

RYANAIR CARD

Ryanair, Europe’s largest airline, has teamed with M-Cube to mass market a multi-branded prepaid card across the U.K. and Ireland.
The new “Ryanair MasterCard Prepaid Card” offers cash-back, rewards, discounts, sweepstakes, free air tickets and is denominated in GBP or euros. The new card offers up to 20% cash-back on all money spent on the card from purchases from brands including Miss Selfridge, SKY Digital, PC World, Laura Ashley and Dixons. Extra savings can be made from discounted shopping such as up to 50% off tickets with TicketMaster when shopping via the member’s portal as well as earning monetary rewards from every purchase made. Also, with every purchase made or ATM transaction on the cardholder earns 10 points. Once users reach their first 1000 points, a reward of GBP 10 will be credited to the card.
The GBO 60 annual card membership fee also entitles cardholders to four free flights on Ryanair.

SaaS StickyStreet Gift Cards Launched

SaaS StickyStreet, a user-friendly online service that helps small
business and franchise owners with the creation and administration of
gift card and loyalty campaigns has been launched. StickyStreet is
completely web-based, hardware-free, and doesn’t charge transaction
fees. The structure of the service allows companies to mix-and-match an
unlimited number of campaigns to fit their unique needs. Companies
aren’t even required to use physical plastic cards. StickyStreet is
determined to make their company
extremely user-friendly, with a sleek and intuitive interface, an
irreverent tone that purposefully avoids marketing jargon, as well as an
accessible customer service desk.

Maritz Loyalty Launches Rewards Direct

St. Louis-based marketing solution provider Maritz has created “Rewards Direct”, targeted to rewards-only buyers. “Rewards Direct” is designed to serve the growing number of organizations that handle in-house planning and operations of their large-scale incentive, recognition and loyalty programs, but need help with selection and fulfillment of rewards that inspire and motivate people and is being built subsequent to the recent acquisition of Cascade Promotion Corporation, a privately-held relationship marketing and rewards fulfillment house.

Fair Isaac Responds to FICO Score Abuse

After reports of individuals renting out credit card accounts to help others artificially boost their credit scores, Fair Isaac announced today it will adjust its “FICO” scoring formula. The adjustment removes authorized user accounts from consideration by the scoring model in “FICO 08,” the newest version of the “Classic FICO” credit score which the Company expects to become available to lenders starting in September. Fair Isaac says the action is intended to protect lenders and “FICO” scores from abuse of authorized user credit card accounts by a new kind of credit repair service that sells consumer credit card histories to credit applicants in order to purposefully misrepresent the applicants’ own credit history to lenders and other businesses. Last month, Fair Isaac announced key innovations to the “Classic FICO” credit risk scoring model that will significantly enhance its predictive power, without changing important features such as scoring range, score reason codes, minimum scoring criteria, inquiry treatment, and related model parameters. The Company reported that since the “FICO” introduction in 1989, it has delivered more than 100 billion credit scores. (CF Library 5/17/07)

DOJ Nails a U.S. Internet Gambling Group

A federal grand jury in Salt Lake City last week returned a 34-count indictment charging seven individuals and four companies with conspiring to violate laws prohibiting Internet gambling. The indictment alleges the defendants operated a business that helped Internet gambling Websites to disguise credit card charges for gambling as charges for something else. The indictment also alleges the defendants’ businesses also assisted Internet gambling Websites by arranging fund transfers between bettors in the U.S. and various Internet gambling Websites using Western Union wire transfers. During the course of the conspiracy, the indictment alleges that the defendants facilitated the payment of more than $150 million to illegal Internet gambling Websites.

Crackdown on Internet Gambling Websites

A federal grand jury in Salt Lake City returned a 34-count indictment, charging seven individuals and four companies with conspiring to violate laws prohibiting Internet gambling. The indictment alleges the defendants operated a business that helped Internet gambling websites to disguise credit card charges for gambling as charges for something else, thereby deceiving credit card issuers who otherwise would not have authorized the transactions and assisted Internet gambling websites by arranging fund transfers between bettors in the United States and various Internet gambling websites using Western Union wire transfers. The indictment alleges that the defendants facilitated the payment of more than $150 million to illegal Internet gambling websites. The potential maximum penalties for the counts in the indictment include 20 years for racketeering conspiracy; 30 years for bank fraud; two years for transmission of wagers/wagering information; and 20 years for money laundering. The case is being investigated by the IRS Criminal Investigation Division.

More Consumers Buy Gift Cards for Themselves

The number of consumers who purchase gift cards for themselves has skyrocketed from 2% in 2003 to 21% this year. Of these self-givers, one in five say they use the cards to purchase cheaper gas from large discounters where cash and credit are not accepted at the pump. The findings come from the annual gift card survey conducted by Comdata’s Stored Value Systems. The SVS study found 75% of U.S. consumers, 15 years old and older, have now either purchased or received a gift card compared to 68% in 2003. About 60% of gift card purchasers buy gift cards for relatives outside of their immediate family and 44% purchase gift cards for friends. The average holiday gift card spending is expected to rise by 20% this year to $223. This year, the average card load is $42. SVS also found that 50% of gift card recipients always or often spend more than the value of the card and make up the difference with their own money. More than 40% of those who receive gift cards use them up within one month of receiving it, and only about 4% keep a card without using it for more than one year. The number one occasion for gift card purchases is birthdays (84%) followed by the winter holidays (68%).

Washington Mutual Uses its Debit Card to Fund Schools

Washington Mutual has introduced a new program for its “VISA Check Card” to generate donations for K-12 schools. Under the “WaMoola for Schools” program, customers with a “Washington Mutual VISA Check Card” enroll by selecting a school to benefit. The designated public or private school will receive a point worth approximately five cents for each purchase made using the card. At the end of the year, the points will be converted into cash and schools will receive a check from Washington Mutual. Actual rewards can vary, however, since Washington Mutual also plans to run special promotions including an offer to double points for check card purchases made through this coming April 30. Parents can choose a child’s school, grandparents and aunts and uncles can also participate, and even neighbors can designate a local school. Enrollees who do not have a specific school in mind can opt to have points allocated to a local underserved school.

VirtualBank Opens

VirtualBank, a technology-based financial services company focused on innovative technology and customer service, announced its official launch and its first three affinity partners.

Designed to meet the needs of the technology-savvy professional, VirtualBank offers the convenience of banking on-line, plus a class of personalized, competent service unprecedented in banking today. Consumers can apply for VirtualBank’s full suite of deposit and lending products, account aggregation, bill payment and financial advisory services through a proprietary technical platform that is uninhibited by the product-centered bureaucracy and legacy systems of traditional banks.

Affinity Partnerships

In addition to offering banking services to consumers from its own site — www.VirtualBank.com — VirtualBank announced the industry’s first online banking model that targets knowledge workers within innovative companies. Today VirtualBank introduced its first affinity partners — EMC Corporation, Textron Financial Corporation and The Association of Compaq Employees.

“Technology professionals are the perfect customers for VirtualBank. They are the most discerning users of the Internet, attracted to companies with innovative technology and likely to appreciate and utilize VirtualBank’s value-added services. We feel that by developing products and services that meet the needs of the most sophisticated users of the Internet, our platform will appeal to everyone,” said Rory Brown, Chairman and CEO of VirtualBank.

VirtualBank is poised to implement its first affinity partnership with EMC Corporation, the world leader in information storage systems and a member of the Fortune e-50 index of companies leading the new economy. A co-branded affinity site — EMCVirtualBank — will reside on the EMC Intranet and provide the full suite of banking and financial services for over 18,000 EMC employees.

“We purposefully selected EMC as our launch partner because of its cutting-edge approach to business and forward-thinking leadership team,” said Courtney McCashland, Executive Vice President of Marketing and People Strategy at VirtualBank. “I’ve worked with top HR executives at more than thirty high-profile companies over the last few years. We believe EMC provides an ideal model as our pioneer partner to provide this service to its employees. EMC is a trendsetter that values its employees.”

“In this competitive job market, employee satisfaction and retention are key areas of focus. Our partnership with VirtualBank allows us to offer our employees an innovative, time-saving benefit that reinforces our commitment to our employees,” said Jack Mollen, Senior Vice President of Human Resources at EMC.

Textron Financial Corporation, a subsidiary of Textron Inc., and Compaq Corporation, a Fortune Global 100 company and the largest supplier of computing systems in the world, will also offer VirtualBank’s services to their employees.

“I am pleased to announce that Textron Financial is entering into this exciting pilot program for our organization, for its success may lead to a much larger affinity relationship with Textron Inc.,” remarked John D. Butler, Executive Vice President Administration and Chief Human Resources Officer at Textron Inc. “This new benefit for Textron Financial’s employees further demonstrates our commitment to bringing the power of the Internet into our employees’ professional and personal lives.”

Service Offerings

VirtualBank uses its unique technology platform to allow customers to complete one application for the rest of their lives. VirtualBank’s technology enables customers to open additional accounts without reentering basic information. The Bank’s low cost structure allows it to offer better rates than traditional banks.

— Deposit Accounts — VirtualBank offers a complete array of deposit accounts, including Checking, Savings, Money Market, CDs and IRAs.

— Loans — VirtualBank offers a full array of consumer lending products, including credit cards, automobile loans, home mortgage loans, home equity loans and lines of credit and personal loans.

— VirtualView — VirtualBank’s VirtualView service provides customers with one-stop access to their personal accounts, including investments, bank and credit card statements, bills, reward programs and e-mail communications, saving them the time and hassle of logging into multiple sites.

— Financial Advisory Services — Each customer is assigned a Relationship Manager who has a complete picture of the customer’s finances and is available for individualized consultations. Sophisticated online planning tools also empower customers to make better financial decisions.

— Bill Payment & Presentment – VirtualBank is the first software installation of the new Checkfree “E-Bill” software which is the next generation of Electronic Payment Technology.

VirtualBank customers can withdraw cash at any of the 531,000 automatic teller machines nationwide displaying the PLUS logo.

VirtualBank’s Technology

VirtualBank’s banking system, which is based on EMC’s industry-leading enterprise storage systems and software for the management, sharing and protection of its information, operates on Microsoft Windows 2000, which enables seamless communication between applications and easy consolidation of information on an Internet-compatible platform. VirtualBank was featured in Microsoft’s “Voice of the Customer” campaign as one of four companies that are changing the way business is done, and was major partner in Microsoft’s Windows 2000 launch in February.

“Keeping all of our deposit and lending functions in-house on a completely integrated system built for the Internet allows VirtualBank to offer a level of convenience and customer service you just can’t achieve with legacy systems,” said Bill Decker, President of VirtualBank. “Controlling our technology also enables us to innovate quickly to enhance the customer experience.”

About VirtualBank

VirtualBank, a privately-held financial institution based in North Palm Beach, Florida, was founded in April 1999 to leverage the Internet to fundamentally change the way people bank. Utilizing the Internet, Windows 2000 and its core technology, VirtualBank provides consumers highly personalized financial services through a single point-of-contact for all financial transactions. More information about the company can be obtained by visiting its Web site at [http://www.virtualbank.com][1].

[1]: http://www.virtualbank.com/

ORGA in South African ICT Venture

In the future, ORGA will have a physical presence in South Africa, one of the most important smart card markets on the continent. Involvement in the ICT joint venture, with headquarters in Johannesburg, will enable the smart card specialist to serve the region faster and more purposefully than ever before.

Involved in ICT alongside ORGA are Gieseke & Devrient, Nampak and also the South African partner Nasionale. While smart card manufacturers ORGA and G&D are bringing technological know-how and customers with them, the packaging specialist Nampak and the Nasionale Group, coming from the field of publishing, are contributing an extensive infrastructure to the success of the joint venture. Paul Hill, who manages the ORGA UK subsidiary and played a leading role in the creation of the new joint venture, sets high hopes for this partnership: “ORGA has been developing our presence in South Africa for over 5 years and has long recognized the potential for rapid expansion of chip card applications in this highly sophisticated marketplace. We are particularly excited to be participating in a collaboration involving such strong partners and look forward to a bright future in South Africa.”

ICT is the third international joint venture in which ORGA has been involved, following ORGA Zelenograd, Russia, Smart Cards & Systems (1996) and Shenzhen, China, ORGA Smart Cards & Systems (1997). Behind this lies the strategy to expand globally with international cooperation by setting up companies and joint ventures to serve regional markets fast and flexibly, in line with demand. ORGA intends to push ahead with this program in the coming years.

Paderborn-based ORGA Kartensysteme GmbH is one of the pioneers and market leaders of the smart card industry. It is jointly held by Preussag AG of Hanover (37.45%) and Bundesdruckerei, Berlin, (37.45%) and Bonn-based Deutsche Telepost Consulting GmbH (Detecon), a subsidiary of Deutsche Telekom (25.1%). With other subsidiaries and affiliated companies in Great Britain, France, USA, CIS, as well as a branch office in Singapore, ORGA enjoys a world-wide presence.