Bank of America and Choice Hotels have teamed to launch the “Choice Privileges VISA Platinum” credit card. The new no annual fee card enables cardholders to earn bonus points at almost 3,000 Comfort Inn, Comfort Suites, Quality, Sleep Inn, Clarion and MainStay Suites brand hotels throughout the U.S., as well as points for everyday spending. Cardholders can earn five points per dollar spent when they use their “Choice Privileges VISA” card to pay for stays at the company’s mid-scale brand hotels. These points are in addition to the 10 points per dollar spent for eligible stays, for a total of 15 points per dollar at Choice Hotels’ mid-scale brands. This enables members to earn enough points for a free night after staying just seven nights at most Choice Privileges locations. The new card also allows “Choice Privileges” members to earn two points per dollar spent for everyday retail purchases. In addition cardholders get 6,000 points when they use their card for the first tim e anywhere. In addition to free nights, “Choice Privileges” points may be redeemed for airline miles/credits with participating airline programs or for gift certificates from more than 100 national and 400 regional retailers and restaurants.
The successful integration of a cashless campus payment application into identity cards has taken place at the Australian International School Singapore with the help of Aix-en-Provence-based INSIDE Contactless. The “CAMPUS” system includes INSIDE’s “Accesso” desktop USB reader, “Hand’IT-2G” compact flash module, and “PicoPass” contactless cards. The system allows students and staff to conveniently purchase food at the canteen, uniform and stationary, pay for excursions, photocopies, prints, track attendance, and work with existing libraries infrastructures. The AISS smart card is a contactless card with a smart chip which stores the cardholder’s personal information and provides access to a cash value that can be topped up using the eNETS “Virtual Account,” an online payment service that is powered by NETS account. “Virtual Account VCard” account holders can use the Internet to access their accounts and make secure payments via the Internet, mobile phones and smart cards. Should a card be lost, staff, students and parents can access their eNETS “VCard” account online and disable the card. The smart card also allows parents to monitor students’ dietary habits via the Internet and rewards students for making healthy food choices in the school canteen. The card also has a unique feature that alerts canteen vendors to food allergies or restrictions for individual
students, thus preventing the purchase of potentially dangerous items.
Dublin-based Research and Markets predicts the total global estate of ATMs will reach 1.54 million by 2007. Total ATMs reached 1.142 million by the end of 2001. Of these, 345,000 were located in the USA, a number that exceeded the machine populations of every other region. For example, outside Japan, the populous and economically dynamic Asia-Pacific region still had fewer than 200,000 machines in operation.
The latest Research and Markets report on “Self-Service Banking and ATMs in the 21st Century” looks at the development of the industry and gives you a complete guide to the worldwide market and pays particular attention to developments in the USA, Asia-Pacific, Western and Eastern Europe and Africa. There are also chapters on the kiosk and ATM marketing that are heavily orientated towards the role that this self-service equipment. Case studies include: Arab National Bank; AutoBank E, South Africa; Barclays Group; DBS Banking Group, Singapore; Euronet Worldwide; HBOS; IBM UK; LINK Interchange Network; Moneybox, UK;
Nationwide Building Society; Piraeus Bank Group, Greece; and, Travelex Group.
First Gulf Bank has launched three, new VISA cards, and a promotional sweepstakes offering new cardholders the chance to win an Audi A4 automobile. FGB says its existing credit cards have among the highest spend per card in the market. It will issue its new “VISA Platinum” card by invitation only. The bank plans to target business owners and senior corporate executives for the Platinum product. The Standard and Gold cards will be offered to the general public. FGB is waiving annual fees for the first year on all three new products. All cardholders will be automatically entered into a sweepstakes to win one of three Audi A4s for each purchase made with the card. The automobiles will be awarded on July 31st, October 2nd, and November 30th of this year. First Gulf Bank was established in 1979 with headquarters in Abu Dhabi provides financial services to Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, and Al Ain. The bank is listed in Abu Dhabi Securities Market with a share capital of AED 374,400 million and equity of AED 668,614 in 2002.
Seattle-based Asia Payment Systems has selected the “ClearCommerce Engine” for its credit card processing platform to be deployed throughout Asia and the USA. Asia Pay is an Asian-based credit card processing merchant services company, which is developing a network to provide credit card clearing services to merchants and financial institutions in China. Asia Pay is a Nevada incorporated company with offices in Seattle, Washington, Hong Kong, and Shenzhen, China. ClearCommerce is the leading provider of fraud prevention and payment processing solutions for online retail, serving more than 75,000 businesses worldwide.
MasterCard’s Debit Centre of Excellence has been awarded the prestigious Chairman’s Award at the “Lafferty European Credit Card and Consumer Finance Awards 2004.” The annual award recognize the industry’s leading players from processors to issuers, as well as the most dynamic and innovative newcomers, and their achievements over the last 12 months. The Chairman’s Award, one of the most prestigious of the categories, is being made to MasterCard for its proactive stance to lead the market rather than follow. MasterCard’s global Debit Centre of Excellence is based in Waterloo. It was established following the merger between MasterCard International and Europay International in June 2002. The aim was to bring together debit specialists from Europay and MasterCard to work with debit teams around the world for the benefit of their local customers.
LendingTree has launched the “You Win” sweepstakes with a $25,000 “American Express Gift Card” as the grand prize. In addition to the sweepstakes, LendingTree currently rewards its customers who use the Realty Services program to buy or sell their home with a personalized American Express branded gift card in values up to $2,000. LendingTree, an operating business of IAC/InterActiveCorp, is the leading online lending Exchange that connects consumers, Lenders, REALTORS(R), and related service providers. American Express Incentive Services (AEIS) provides business customers with a wide array of incentive and stored value card products for consumer promotions and employee rewards.
SAP Canada announced its first joint solution with American Express for small and midsize businesses, under the brand “SAP Business One – The American Express Edition. The solution is offered exclusively by American Express and its Canadian channel partner, The RAM Group. “SAP Business One” provides real-time access to integrated financial, operational and sales management information. The “SAP Business One” components include financial (general ledger, accounts payable, accounts receivable, banking), distribution (inventory management, purchase order processing, sales order processing) and customer relationship management. The “American Express Edition” extends the “SAP Business One” functionality with integrated wireless warehouse management, electronic data interchange, document management, credit
card processing and sales and use tax.
The first business payment card in the USA to offer both credit and debit functionality has been launched by TN-based Comdata Corporation. The new “BusinessLink Corporate MasterCard” is also the first in the transportation industry to offer virtual card capability as part of its fleet solution. The “BusinessLink” card offers corporate credit card functionality as well as PIN-based debit capabilities, providing, for the first time, a one-card, B2B payment system, that allows employers to distribute company-provided personal funds to employees for access at ATMs and via purchases at point-of-sale debit terminals. The cornerstone of the new “BusinessLink” product is its ability to allow a company to establish purchasing authorizations and controls at the individual cardholder level, and the flexibility to change them in real-time via the Web if, and as, needed. The virtual card service is designed as a secure, fast method for making unscheduled, emergency and Internet purchases. The “BusinessLink” card can also provide the added functionality of serving as a facilities access card, with several levels of authentication built in to circumvent I.D. card tampering or theft. Comdata provides credit and debit processing and reporting for commercial fleets and merchants.
Dubai-based Mashreqbank has launched a new credit card that utilizes the smart chip to reward repeat behavior as opposed to one-time transactional loyalty. The new “WOW! MasterCard” and “WOW! VISA” have more than 1,000 participating merchants with smart card readers that will rebate between 5% and 35% back to the cardholder. Merchants are also offering surprise rewards. The card uses the enhanced XLS payment solution developed by Welcome Real Time. Bank executives say cardholders can earn up to Dh6000 annually, based on spending patterns. Mashreqbank is making the card publicly available and will upgrade all of its 100,000 existing cardholders to the new program. Mashreqbank was the first bank to introduce credit cards in the UAE in 1982 and offers the popular “MashreqMillionnaire” credit card program. It is the largest private bank in the UAE with 34 branches.
Standard Chartered Bank UAE has launched a rewards program for its VISA and MasterCard programs. The new “Standard Dollars Programme” rewards cardholders for carrying a balance. Once a cardholder pays the minimum amount due, the rest of their balance will earn “Standard Dollars.” The rewards can be redeemed for travel services at DNATA, luxury shopping at Damas and Paris Gallery, electronics at Jumbo, dining privileges at Sheraton and Le Meridien hotels, healthcare services at Welcare; and groceries at Carrefour, Choithram and LuLu Supermarket. All Standard Chartered credit cardholders will automatically be enrolled in the “Standard Dollars Programme.” There is no annual fee for the program.
Atlanta-based CheckFree reported fourth quarter revenue of $149.9 million, an 11% gain over the same period last year. The fourth quarter net loss was $1.9 million, compared to $6.7 million in previous quarter, and $11.2 million one-year ago. The Company reported that its Electronic Commerce unit processed more than 139 million transactions for the quarter, a 10% increase over the previous quarter; delivered 18.5 million electronic bills, an increase of 26% over the previous quarter; and increased its electronic rate by two full percentage points to 78%. For the first calendar quarter, the Company projects revenue in the range of $149 to $154 million. In the fourth quarter, more than 12 million consumers initiated online payments through services offered by CheckFree’s Electronic Commerce division. For complete details on CheckFree’s 4Q/03 performance visit CardData ([www.carddata.com]).