A week before JPMorgan Chase shareholders vote at their annual meeting on a genocide-free investing proposal, Investors Against Genocide (IAG) has launched a communications campaign featuring a dramatic print advertisement that was printed May 11 in The Wall Street Journal (WSJ). The aim of the campaign is to draw much-needed attention to the connection between investments and genocide in Darfur, Sudan. Investors Against Genocide placed the ad in support of “Proposal 10 – Genocide-free investing” on the JPMorgan Chase proxy ballot as part of IAG’s initiative to convince mutual funds and other investment firms to make an ongoing commitment to genocide-free investing. JPMorgan Chase asked the Securities and Exchange Commission to allow the company to exclude the genocide-free investing proposal from the proxy ballot. The SEC denied their request, clearing the way for the shareholder proposal to appear on the proxy ballot.
VISA is reportedly gearing-up to launch a new high-end card to compete with American Express’ high volume card users. The new “VISA Signature Preferred,” to be introduced in mid-April, will be aimed at cardholders charging more than $50,000 per year. The Wall Street Journal noted that VISA USA will charge 14% more per transaction than the current rates for “VISA Signature.” The WSJ says the VISA rate will be an average 2.27% of a transaction on the “Signature Preferred” card, compared with 1.99% on other high-end cards from VISA. VISA says “Signature” cardholders generate an average annual spend per active card of roughly $25,000. In the third quarter of 2006, volume on “VISA Signature” grew 16.8% to $34 billion, in a year-over-year comparison. (CF Library 2/13/07)
Google continues to explore and expand its beta online payment service. The Wall Street Journal reports that for the last nine months, Google has recruited online retailers to test “GBuy.” The new consumer payment option will feature an icon posted alongside the paid-search ads of merchants. The WSJ also says GBuy will let consumers store their credit-card information on Google. Meanwhile, The New Scotsman reports that Larry Page and Sergey Brin, billionaire founders of Google, had their credit card denied at the Gula Gula restaurant in Ipanema for a $50 lunch tab. They were reportedly able to come up with another card to settle the tab. The denied card was not identified.
The arbitration clauses imposed on credit cardholders are now under attack for possible collusion violations. A new federal lawsuit charges that credit card issuers shared notes on arbitration at least 20 times between 1999 and 2003. The lawsuit names Bank of America, Capital One, Chase, Discover, Citigroup, MBNA, Providian and HSBC (formerly Household). According to this morning’s Wall Street Journal, the banks named allegedly convened a group in 1999 called the “Arbitration Coalition” or “Arbitration Group.” The WSJ says the central allegation in the case is that the banks worked together to create or maintain mandatory arbitration clauses as a way to thwart class-action lawsuits brought by consumers. The plaintiffs, represented by Berger & Montague of Philadelphia and other firms, are seeking to have the mandatory arbitration provisions in the complaint declared void.
Bank of America has announced cardholder changes that go into effect with the billing cycle that ends in April, according to CardWatch (www.cardwatch.com). The BofA variable rate will now be based on the prime rate on the last day of the month or the highest prime rate published by the WSJ within the immediately preceding three months. The issuer also adjusted its penalty interest rate to prime +23.99% from prime +21.99% with a 25.99% minimum. The rate is triggered if there are two late payments or two over-limits in a twelve month period. The cash advance APR is increasing to prime +15.99% instead of a variable rate with a 19.99% minimum. Additionally, BofA is raising its foreign currency adjustment fee from 2% to 3%, as VISA and MasterCard drop their 1% conversion fee.
A second major issuer has tweaked its variable rate structure, enabling it to pass along future rate increases quickly to cardholders. This week, MBNA is notifying cardholders it is switching its variable rate structure, based on the prime rate, to monthly adjustments instead of quarterly adjustments. The change is effective with MBNA’s October statements. MBNA will now reset its rates using the WSJ prime rate published on the last day of the month. MBNA currently uses March 15th, June 15th, Sept 15th and Dec 15th as rate setting days, applying the rate after the closing date of the billing cycle. Effective August 1st, Bank One changed its index date, from the 22nd day of the month to two days prior to the closing date of the billing cycle. Among the top ten issuers only Capital One resets variable rates quarterly, however it predominately issues fixed rate cards.
VARIABLE RATE INDEX DATES
1. Citibank – Two days prior to the closing date of the billing cycle
2. MBNA – Last business day of the month.
3. Bank One – Two days prior to the closing date of the billing cycle
4. Chase – Last business day of the month
5. Discover – Last business day of the month
6. Capital One – March 25, June 25, Sept 25 and Dec 25: applies day after the closing date of the billing cycle
7. American Express – Higher of the 1st or the 20th of each month
8. Bank of America – Last business day of the month
9. Household Bank – Last business day of the month
10. Providian – 22nd day of each month
Source: CardWatch(R) ([www.cardwatch.com])
(http//www.zonafinanciera.com ), a leading technology provider of web-based
solutions for financial institutions, recently signed an agreement with
Scotiabank-Inverlat to provide account aggregation services to bank customers.
The service, to be named S-Facil, will provide customers with convenient one
login access to online accounts from multiple providers. Scotiabank-Inverlat
plans to introduce S-Facil to its 50,000 bank customers in late July.
The adoption of account aggregation technology by Scotiabank-Inverlat
places the institution ahead of the market, as it is one of the first in
Mexico and Latin America to provide a comprehensive solution to online account
management. Until recently, account aggregation was a concept primarily on
the rise in the United States, a service that held many prospects for
financial institutions seeking alternative methods to get closer to the
customer. Today just about every major financial institution in the United
States is offering account aggregation services to their customers and Latin
American institutions are quick to follow.
The concept is simple. Scotiabank-Inverlat’s S-Facil service will provide
bank customers with convenient access to online accounts, eliminating time-
consuming repeat visits to many sites and the need to recall multiple user
names and passwords. Customers will be able to sign up for the S-Facil
service at the bank’s Web site (http//www.scotiabankinverlat.com ). Once
registered, customers will then be able to select a unique user name and
password and immediately begin aggregating bank, credit card and brokerage
accounts, email, rewards programs, including AeroMexico’s Premier, Posadas de
Mexico’s Fiesta Rewards and Mexicana’s Frecuenta, and consolidated news. As
accounts are added to S-Facil, customer data is updated so that users can
access a current summary of accounts without the hassle of visiting multiple
“Scotiabank-Inverlat has clearly taken a major step to establishing a
leadership position in aggregation in the Mexican market,” said Eric Daniels,
chairman and CEO of ZonaFinanciera.com. “This platform represents a new level
of customer service for their clients,” Daniels concluded.
About Grupo Financiero Inverlat
Grupo Financiero Inverlat is one of the most important financial groups in
Mexico. Its three main subsidiaries are Banco Inverlat, Casa de Bolsa
Inverlat and Casa de Cambio Inverlat. The Group is comprised of more than 400
branches and 950 ATMs located throughout Mexico, and its staff includes
approximately 7,200 employees. For more information
Scotiabank is one of the most important financial institutions in North
America. Its holdings exceed US$163.5 billion and the group employs more than
41,000 people around the world. Scotiabank is also the most international
bank in Canada, with more than 1,700 branches and offices in more than 50
countries on six continents. For more information
Founded in 1997, ZonaFinanciera.com is a leading technology provider of
web-based solutions for financial institutions. The company offers its
innovative application service solutions to clients such as Citibank, Nasdaq
and Banca Serfin. The leading edge product developed by the
ZonaFinanciera.com is its account aggregation software, ZFacil, a registered
trademark of ZonaFinanciera.com. Additionally, the company serves as the
personal finance channel to leading portal sites, search engines and Internet
Service Providers (ISPs), including Universo Online International (UOL),
T1MSN, WSJ Interactive and Lycos.
On the consumer service arena, ZonaFinanciera.com’s Web site
(http//www.zonafinanciera.com ) is a leading personal finance marketplace for
Spanish and Portuguese-speaking users. Customized to 21 countries, including
the U.S. Hispanic market, (http//www.zonafinanciera.com ) is a one-stop
resource to research, comparison shop, buy and monitor financial products
ZonaFinanciera.com has raised over $40 million to date from institutional
investors including Acon Investments, Capital Investors, Citicorp Strategic
Technology Corporation, Columbia Capital, Hartford Life Insurance, MMC Capital
Inc., Steve Walker and Associates, T. Rowe Price and The Washington Post.
ZonaFinanciera.com is headquartered in Fairfax, Virginia, with offices in
Argentina, Brazil, Mexico and Venezuela. For more information, please contact
ZonaFinanciera.com at [email protected] or visit the Web site at
Low credit card adoption and poor product fulfillment infrastructure represent major barriers for Internet businesses looking to tap into the Latin America Internet commerce market. According to a new study by Jupiter Communications, the potential Latin America online commerce market is around $8.3 billion with 66 million online users within Latin America, concentrated in Brazil, Mexico, and Argentina. The study, released yesterday at a Jupiter conference in Miami, says the barrier of low credit card ownership across the region creates an opportunity for banks and other financial institutions to facilitate Internet commerce, which is a trend now beginning to emerge.