Consumer Reports’ Trouble Tracker Creeps Up

A new consumer survey has found 38% of Americans experiencing at least one major negative personal finance event in the past 30 days. The negative events include: the inability to pay medical bills or afford medication, missed mortgage payments, home foreclosure, interest rate
increase, penal fees, reduced lines of credit or other changes in credit card terms, job loss or layoffs, reduced healthcare coverage, or the denial of personal loans. The latest “Consumer Reports Index,” which includes the “Sentiment Index,” the “Trouble Tracker Index,”
“Stress Index,” the “Retail Index,” and the “Employment Index,” concluded that Americans feel far worse about their financial situation than they have in the past seven months. The “Sentiment Index” dropped to 38.1 in September from 41.1 in the previous month. The “Trouble Tracker” continues to creep upward from its low point in May of 48.5, but it remains steady, only 60 basis points above the prior month.
In July the “Stress Index” rose slightly to 58.4 and has continued to increase to 65.7 in September. The “Retail Index” for the past 30 days collapsed in August last month, falling to 9.5 from 13.0 in July, has
stabilized in September at 9.7. The “Employment Index” improved significantly in September to 50.3 from 48.0 last month.

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XCELLINK PATENT

Xcellink International has been issued its Canadian patent (P#2,264,048)
covering automated data interchange for transactions between customers
and merchants over wired or wireless links. This provides Xcellink
International a uniform Patent protection across North America for
continent-wide opportunity to allow providers of payments services who
wish to automate consumer-based management systems with the use of a
local link with a single license arrangement for the Xcellink method.
Enhancing existing technologies such as mobile phones and wireless
digital networks, and exploiting the techniques associated with secure
messaging systems, this unique process enables customers, rather than
the merchant, to initiate, control and pay for all transactions, without
the need for credit cards, in real-time anywhere, anytime and at a
fraction of the cost of current transactions.

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U.S. Bank’s Elan Acquires Associated Cards

U.S. Bank’s Elan Financial Services has purchased WI-based Associated
Bank’s credit card portfolio. The portfolio will be converted in the
second quarter of 2010, and all of the new products and services will be
made available to clients at that time. Elan will offer a full suite of
consumer and commercial credit card services. Last week,
Elan announced the acquisition of the OH-based KeyBank credit card
portfolio. In conjunction with the new relationship with Elan, KeyBank
will be terminating its previously existing credit card issuing
relationship with Citi. The acquired KeyBank portfolio will also be
converted in the second quarter of 2010. (CF Library 9/3/09)

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MONARCH & PAYPAL

Monarch Airlines and PayPal are marking their two-year partnership by
rewarding customers with free booking fees. The fee-free booking will
apply to all flights booked on the Monarch website (www.monarch.co.uk)
and paid for using PayPal between September 04 and 30. Paypal customers’
financial information is securely stored and do not need to re-enter
their details, ultimately allowed a faster booking process. The Standard
PayPal booking fee when booking Monarch flights equals 3% of the total
value of the booking, with a minimum booking fee of GBP2.49. Monarch
operates scheduled flights to Spain, Gibraltar, Portugal and Cyprus from
Birmingham, London Gatwick, London Luton and Manchester airports and
allows seats pre-booked at GBP7.50 per one-way flight.

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First Data Hires a New CFO to Replace Wall

First Data has tapped W. Patrick Shannon, previously with BellSouth, to
serve as EVP/CFO. Shannon served as chief financial officer of BellSouth
from 2005 to 2007 until the completion of
BellSouth’s merger with AT&T. In addition, he served as a director of
Cingular Wireless and a member of Cingular’s Audit Committee. Shannon
succeeds Phil Wall who has been appointed the chief financial officer of
Bank of America Merchant Services, the recently formed alliance between
First Data and Bank of America. Wall will join the Bank of America
Merchant Services senior management team and report directly to its
Chief Executive Officer Tom Bell.

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OVERALL SPENDING

A new report has found that credit card purchases during the first quarter grew less than consumer expenditures in most Western European countries, including the U.K. However, in Turkey and Poland credit card purchase volume outpaced overall consumer expenditures substantially. The research by First Annapolis found that growth in the European credit card market will be adversely affected by the economic recession, but that growth opportunities still remain in the less mature markets of Central and Eastern Europe.

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Magellan Merchant is Released

E-commerce platform provider Magellan Commerce has released “Magellan
Merchant” one-stop shop for
businesses looking for Web site, marketing and online-payment solutions.
“Magellan Merchant” frees online businesses from a long-term
contract, paying any setup fees or reaching a minimum amount of
transactions
per month in order to give customers the convenience of paying with a
credit card
online. With a monthly fee of 5 cents and a low transaction rate,
Magellan Merchant is one of the lowest-cost merchant services available.
Online businesses get their deposit from credit-card transactions in 1-2
days, which is faster than the industry average of 2-5 days. Customers’
financial information is protected by Magellan Merchant’s PCI-compliant
safety protocols. Magellan Commerce is an ecommerce platform that
provides all the
necessary Web site-building tools, hosting, design, search marketing and
now merchant services for businesses entering the Web.

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WAVE-ME

INSIDE Contactless contactless chip technologies has partnered with
CONNECTHINGS contextualized services to boost NFC production. The
partnership aims to provide NFC the intelligence it needs to provide
payment and transit applications on a broad range of mobile services
through its “Wave-Me” NFC services platform. Offering an end-to-end
solution, “Wave-Me” will allow carriers and third-party service
providers to offer their subscribers easy access to consumer services
and applications through their mobile phones. For the partnership
solutions and products, INSIDE will provide its NFC technology know-how,
NFC hardware and loadable application-level software while CONNECTHINGS
will provide its knowledge from its “AdTag” server-side contextualized
content management and experience with NFC tag and mobile application.

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LASERCARD EXEC

Ismael Dykman has been appointed sales and business development manager
for LaserCard Corporation secure ID solutions. Currently the Vice
Chairman of the Smart Card Alliance Latin America, Dykman most recently
served as Government Sales Manager, Latin America, for an identity
solutions provider where he increased company participation in driver
license, state ID, national ID, voter ID and civil registry programs. He
also drove the development and sale of large-scale national ID programs
in Nicaragua and Guatemala and passport issuance systems in Brazil. In
his new role, Dykman will focus on providing secure ID solutions to
governments throughout Latin America.

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accesso to Power MasterCard Golf Event

Ticketing and e-commerce provider accesso will provide MasterCard and
the Arnold Palmer Invitational comprehensive online and onsite
ticketing, access control and real-time reporting. The 2010 tournament
website offers ticket sales via the award-winning accesso “SHOPLAND”
eCommerce solution,
delivering an intuitive retail environment consistent with the
tournament’s visual
identity and branding priorities. The entire platform integrates the
sponsor into the
Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard’s sales and marketing
efforts,
creating a consistent message as well as a simplified transaction
process. The powerful accesso on-site ticketing
platform will be paired with state-of-the-art wireless technology to
deliver real time
attendance reports and statistics for key tournament management.
MasterCard will be prominently featured in the online retail environment
and offered as the
preferred payment option.

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