New Chairman Appointed for Prepaid International Forum

Prepaid International Forum (PIF) named Kusal Roy, Head of Cards and Personal Loans at ICICI Bank as the successor to founding PIF India Chairman Sachin Khandelwal who is stepping down after two years. Kusal Roy is a retail banking professional with 16 years of experience, across Citibank, Barclays and ICICI Bank. Currently, he is General Manager and Business Head of Cards (Credit, Debit and Prepaid) and Unsecured Loans at ICICI Bank. The various cards businesses at ICICI Bank are among the largest in India in each product vertical. Mr Roy has rich experience in the payments domain over the last decade and a half, having created significant product innovations including India’s first foreign-currency prepaid card.

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Gas Prices Shake Small Business Profits & Confidence

Small business confidence in the economy continues its descent, with 54% indicating a poor outlook on the recovery in March, a figure having climbed from 41% in February. This is an unfortunate trend seen over the past 19 months, given a majority of small business owners have held this perspective during this time, but this is the greatest majority since September of last year. On the bright side, 27% feel conditions are improving, although this is down from the previous month figure of 34%, while 15% see no change in the economy, down from 20% in February. These findings are according to the March Discover “Small Business Watch” monthly barometer of economic confidence, which overall dropped to 86.5 from 90.2 in February.

A huge factor in all this is the skyrocketing gas prices we have seen throughout the first half of the year, to which 76% of small business owners have lost profits and 90% disclosed either a somewhat negative or very negative impact. This is partly to blame for the 42% whom say conditions are getting worse, up from 40% in February; the only 30% indicating they feel the economy is getting better, down from 33%; and the 24% perceiving no change, down from 25%. Overall, 56% rate the current U.S. economy as poor for no change from the month prior; 35% rate it as fair, up from 32 percent; a mere 6% says its good, down from 7%; and 3% say the economy is excellent for no change since February.

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Merchant Credit Card Processing Pioneer Returns

Lawrence J. Petru has come back from two years’ retirement and begun his new merchant credit card processing venture-Redstone Payment Solutions. The former President of Delta Card Services d.b.a. Merchants’ Choice Cards Services (MCCS), which he ran until 2009 and where he started in 1994 to grow a merchant portfolio from zero to over 50,000 merchants across the United States, Larry has already appointed his operation team for his new Payment Solutions venture. TX-based Redstone Payment Solutions is a registered ISO/MSP of Wells Fargo Bank and operations are underway.

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Capital Access Network Expands Remittance Reach

Capital Access Network inked a Letter of Intent (LOI) with Manuel E. Tavares, Victor Jose Pacheco and Juan E. Tavares for use of its “Daily Remittance Platform” (DRP). With this, CAN expands presence into 21 additional countries in Latin America, the Caribbean and Europe, plus the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. The “DRP” end-to-end finance delivery system enabling small and mid-sized business (SMB) finance providers to offer “daily” remittance and recurring revenue-based finance products while driving credit card issuance and acceptance. It integrates more timely and relevant SMB revenue and behavioral data into all aspects of product delivery, from targeting and decisioning to asset management, decreasing capital provider risk while increasing capital access for underserved SMBs.

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Citi Rewards Improves on Point Rewards

Citi “ThankYou Rewards” loyalty programs has introduced several features for its “ThankYou Points” rewards members, in direct response to consumer research. The new offering includes a “Travel Center,” an expanded “Bonus Center” and a “Points Transfer” program that enables members to give their points to other members. The “Travel Center” allows members to use their Citi credit card in combination with “ThankYou Points” to get travel rewards. If a member doesn’t have enough points for a flight, hotel reservation or vacation package, a Citi credit card can be used to pay the difference, for which there are no blackout dates on flights, hotels, cars and vacation packages. Moreover, the “Citi ThankYou Bonus Center” gives members an average of four extra “ThankYou Points” per dollar spent while “ThankYou Points Transfer” gives users the ability for members to transfer their “ThankYou Points” to other members.

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Western Union Campaign to Host Casting Calls

Western Union is hosting casting calls on April 2 and April 9 in New York City, Los Angeles, Houston, Chicago, Miami, and Washington D.C. for music video entries in “Love in Any Language.” The national campaign is designed to help consumers express their love to mothers, family, friends and loved ones, for which Western Union is encouraging consumers to sing and share their unique song that expresses their love for their families, friends and loved ones, reflecting the theme of the Love in Any Language campaign.

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Bill.com Selected for OnDemand & Finovate Distinctions

Bill.com online bill payment and invoicing for small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) and CPA firms been selected as an “AlwaysOn” OnDemand 100 Top Private Company for 2011. With this, the Company will demo at the FinovateSpring 2011 in San Francisco on May 10-11. Bill.com helps customers save more than 50% of the time and cost of handling and paying bills. The company is also helping to reduce the estimated 48 billion account notices, statements and bills sent by businesses each year and converting $23 Trillion in paper checks written and mailed for B2B payments into electronic payments. The 2011 OnDemand 100 companies are top emerging Internet companies disrupting the established enterprise and pioneering cloud computing and SaaS. FinovateSpring is a two-day showcase held in May in San Francisco and comprised of leading established companies and hot new startups.

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Microchip Launches Low-Cost 8-bit PIC Microcontroller

Microchip Technology microcontroller, analog and Flash-IP solutions has expanded its 8-bit segmented LCD microcontroller (MCU) family with five new devices”the PIC16LF1902/3/4/6/7 (PIC16LF190X) MCUs. The PIC16LF190X family supports many general-purpose applications and enables the implementation of LCD into low-power and cost-sensitive designs, such as security tokens, smart cards, medical devices, home appliances, key fobs or any application involving a segmented LCD. Featuring eXtreme Low Power (XLP) technology for sleep currents down to 20 nA, and a typical active current of 35 microamperes per MHz, the MCUs extend battery life, while maintaining accurate timing with a RTC and driving a segmented LCD. With the addition of XLP technology for extended battery life, and capabilities such as utilizing the integrated temperature indicator to provide crystal-accuracy compensation, low-power RTC support and low voltage-detect support utilizing the internal ADC and voltage reference, the MCUs enable low-cost LCD solutions for a multitude of portable devices.

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Square 1 Names New President & CEO

The Boards of Directors of Square 1 Financial and Square 1 Bank have appointed Doug Bowers President and CEO. Bringing with him over 25 years’ experience with Bank of America, Bowers had a broad career in the financial services industry with leadership roles in commercial businesses. He has also served on a variety of boards, both corporate and philanthropic, and is a graduate of Ball State University. Square 1 Bank offers tailored products and solutions aided by the latest in technological innovations.

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VFW & USAA Launch Investment Credit Card

USAA and the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) have partnered to offer their credit card with USAA’s investment solutions to more than 1.6 million VFW members.
The new co-branded credit card allows VFW members to apply for the Veterans of Foreign Wars USAA Rewards World MasterCard, which will help support the organization’s activities and programs. Additionally, USAA is now the VFW’s preferred provider of investment solutions for its membership. According to Nathan McKinley, USAA vice president of military affinity, the relationship expands USAA’s efforts to serve those who served the nation during times of war, along with organizations committed to advancing veteran benefits and care.

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Usablenet Tops ABI Research mCommerce Ranking

Usablenet has been ranked at the top of the latest Non-NFC Mobile Commerce Vendor Matrix released by ABI Research, while MyBuys and Moovweb claimed the second and third spots. These rankings were determined by the “Vendor Matrix” analytical tool developed by ABI Research to provide a clear understanding of vendors’ positions in specific markets. Vendors are assessed on the important parameters of “innovation” and “implementation” across several criteria unique to each vendor matrix. ABI Research scrutinized vendors’ physical merchant relationships (merchants who have physical locations); e-commerce merchant relationships (no brick-and-mortar locations); solution scope (does the solution include SMS, mobile Internet, and downloadable applications?); and financial and organizational health.

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