AmEx Survey Finds Gift Cards Dominate Wish Lists

Another survey points to 10% of Americans planning to spend more this year than last on holiday gifts, and 43% about the same. The latest “American Express Spending & Saving Tracker” found that gift cards will be the gift of the season at 58% vs. all other gift selections. Nearly eight in ten consumers intend to utilize the Internet as a tool to help with holiday shopping: 45% will use the Internet to purchase items, more than one in four will use it for hard-to-find items, 27% to research products and a quarter will go online to simply look for gift ideas. In terms of the largest and most expensive single purchase holiday buyers will make, consumers expect to spend the most on technology gifts (with an average gift costing $450) followed by gift cards (with an average gift costing $270). The spending increases for affluents, with averages of $590 for technology and $350 for gift cards respectively.

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WYMIX PAYWAVE

At the Cartes & IDentification 2009 Summit, Hypercom Corporation has
announced its “Wymix” PIN Pad has received Visa “payWave” certification.
Featuring a built-in contactless antenna, “Wymix” can be used to process
payments made by contactless cards as well as NFC-enabled mobile
handsets. Interest in contactless cards and mobile payment programs is
increasing in many European countries and various pilots are in progress
throughout the region, organized by banks, mobile phone and public
transport operators. In France, several major retailers have chosen to
upgrade their systems using the Wymix PIN pad in preparation for the
upcoming roll out of contactless cards and NFC mobile payment pilots.

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HYPERCOM R3210

The Hypercom Corporation has unveiled its “R3210” contactless reader for
payment, gift/loyalty, prepaid, ticketing and access control. With
clip-on, countertop or wall-mount design and easy plug and play setup
for easy device upgrade to accept mobile payments and other contactless
transactions, the “R3210” offers contactless capability for stand-alone
terminals or integrated payment solutions through a range of merchants.
The “R3210” is powered by a 32-bit RISC-based processor and incorporates
Hypercom’s TMS remote software management, with optional features such
as a high contrast backlit display and dual RS-232 port for extended
connectivity. Contactless payments are key in high transaction volume
environments where speed is essential, providing processing time
considerably shorter than for contact card transactions to ultimately
help drive the increased use of loyalty and other value added applications.

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BDO Seidman Says Holiday Gift Card Sales to Sink

Another survey forecasts holiday sales to grow a mere 1.8% this year. When asked which product category will perform the strongest this holiday season, 39% of the CMOs cite toys. According to BDO Seidman,
gift card sales are only expected to account for 5% of holiday sales, down from nearly 12% in 2008. More than half of retailers expect gift card sales to be flat this year, while only 32% expect gift card sales will increase and 12% project a decrease. Overall, retailers project a 0.76% drop in gift card sales this season. BDO Seidman also found that
96% of retailers say they will increase promotions and discounts this year. When asked which in-store tactic they will be focusing on most heavily for the season, most CMOs (43%) cite special events. More than half (55%) of retailers planning online campaigns will depend on email promotions to boost holiday sales. When it comes to which product category will see the most discounts this year, more than a third (37%) say consumer electronics. A majority (37%) of retailers predict that consumer electronics will see the most discounts this holiday season. Retailers expect discounts across the board, including product categories such as: apparel (21%), home goods (14%), toys (13%), jewelry (9%) and lifestyle goods (6%).

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GEMALTO CONTACTLESS

Gemalto digital security announced its NFC SIM card product range
successfully operates with Nokia’s contactless mobile phones, after
having demonstrated the interoperability of its SIM cards with the
NFC-enabled “Nokia 6216” classic handsets at Cartes & IDentification.
The company is also presenting its Trusted Services Management (TSM)
offer for the secure deployment and management of NFC services, for
which Gemalto is presenting payment and transport services with the
Nokia “6216 classic”. The collaboration between Gemalto and Nokia
illustrates joint alignment between the two companies to enable a
successful NFC ecosystem building on the standardization work completed
within ETSI and the NFC Forum.

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OBERTHUR & TODOS

Oberthur Technologies and Todos have partnered to make available
authentication devices and back-end servers to improve security,
usability and trust for online e-shopping and e-banking users. The fully
managed authentication service includes a Versatile Authentication
Server for e-shopping; e-banking; card readers with associated EMV or
PKI smartcards; connected and unconnected tokens; applications for
mobile phones; OTP scratch cards; and OTP matrix cards. To facilitate
deployment of secure and trustworthy authentication services for banks,
Oberthur Technologies is offering its ‘Smart Authentication Pack,’ which
includes marketing and technical consultancy; global integration;
authentication device delivery; and server operation through either a
Service Centers or the bank.

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VASCO OSS

VASCO authentication solutions has joined with Monext electronic
payments to offer the “Optimized Security Solution” (OSS). Offered by
Monext and based on VASCO’s IDENTIKEY core technology, OSS facilitates
the management of all currently-available authentication methods
including matrix cards, PKI certificates, mobile authentication, as well
as the various password generators (mobile telephone SMS, EMV card
readers and DIGIPASS(R) authenticators). Additionally, “OSS” manages a
diversity of authentication channels (voice, SVI, internet) to
accommodate all requirements and provide 24/7 assistance to all users
and provide a completely-integrated supply of media authentication
server operation in a highly-secure environment.

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TASC Says Debt Settlement Works Best

The Association of Settlement Companies (TASC) continued its education campaign last week, having explained to the FTC consumers seeking debt management are more successful when using credible debt settlement companies over credit counseling services. Credit counseling and bankruptcy, however, would be the only remaining options for consumers struggling with unsecured debt if the FTC were to pass proposed amendments to the Telemarketing Sales Rule, which include a ban of advance fees that could effectively eliminate the industry. Other divisions show debt settlement programs are typically 36 months or fewer while credit counseling are around 60 months; the total cost of a debt settlement program is usually far less than the cost of a debt management program available through a credit counseling company; and debt settlement programs are customized depending on a consumer’s circumstances while credit counseling payment plans are dictated by the creditors.

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SEPT LEI

The Conference Board Leading Economic Index (LEI) for Korea continued
increases with a 2.3% gain while The Conference Board Coincident
Economic Index (CEI) increased 0.9% in September. With the 2.3%
increase, the Conference Board LEI for Korea now stands at 108.3
(2004=100), which decreased 0.3% in August and increased 1.5% in July.
Meanwhile, the CEI increase for the month was preceded by 0.2% increase
in August, no change in July and now stands at 108.9 (2004=100). LEI
results for the month were attributed to positive gains in 4 of 4
components, including industrial production, the wholesale and retail
sales component, total employment, and monthly cash earnings.

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BAMS Alliance Drives FDC’s Q3 Revenue Up

First Data posted a 13% gain in consolidated third quarter revenue of
$2.44 billion, driven by the new Bank of America Merchant Services
alliance. However, the Financial Services Segment revenue was off 11% to
$339 million. The International Segment generated revenue of $415
million, down 10%. The Retail and Alliance Services Segment reported
revenue of $798 million, down 4% over 3Q/08. But, reimbursable debit
network fees soared by 41% to $719.5 million, offsetting the declines in
the other segments. During the quarter, Financial Services renewed 131
contracts in the quarter including a significant contract with GE. Also,
First Data’s International segment signed a long-term global agreement
with Barclays to provide technology for card issuing.
Additionally, First Data and RSA announced a new service called “First
Data Secure Transaction Management.” Bank of America Merchant Services
is First Data’s largest merchant acquiring alliance and was established
in June 2009 after the extension of similar alliances with Wells Fargo
and PNC in recent quarters. For complete details on First Data’s third
quarter performance visit CardData (www.carddata.com)

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SMART CARD MANAGER

OpenTrust security software publisher has made available its “OpenTrust
Smart Card Manager.” Compatible with popular smart cards and tokens,
offering features with improved support for multiple certification
authorities and third-party applications, “OpenTrust Smart Card Manager”
provides a life cycle management of digital credentials, applications
and cryptographic devices. It features a web-based GUI used to centrally
manage the issuance, re-issuance, post-issuance updates, revocation, and
recycling of the cards and tokens themselves along with all associated
data and digital identities. Multiple applications and user credentials
are loaded onto one or several cryptographic devices and updated centrally.

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