O2 MONEY VISA

O2 and NatWest have teamed to issue two completely fee free pre-paid Visa cards. The new “O2 Money Visa” cards, to be available in mid-August, include the “Cash Manager Visa” and the “Load & Go Visa.” The “Load & Go Visa” is a cash management tool for consumers aged 13 and over. A letter will be sent to the parent or guardian of anyone under the age of 16, to inform them of the application for “Load & Go.” It cannot be used in certain retail outlets and websites, such as online gambling sites and real time text balance updates are provided to the
mobile phone every time the card is used. The “Cash Manager” can be loaded through regular or single online transfers. It is completely free of all fees and charges when used within the UK. Telefónica O2 UK Limited is a top communications company for consumers and businesses in the UK with 20.8 million mobile customers. NatWest was the first bank to offer customers the opportunity to activate their debit card from their mobile phone.

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80% of U.S. E-Households Use E-Banking

Recent research shows more than two million U.S. households adopted
online banking and bill payment during the last year while a total of
69.7 million households (80% of internet-connected American households)
now use online banking services and 64.4 million households pay at least
one bill online through either a bank or creditor website. Among survey
participants in the research, 41% of online bankers plan to pay more
bills through their financial institution’s website; 35% plan to pay
more bills through the creditor company’s website; 49% of consumers
using online bill pay are less likely to switch banks, up from 43% in
2008; 67% of those who use the service through their bank would
recommend their institution; and 38% would recommended the service
itself. The research is thanks to a recent Fiserv-sponsored “Consumer
Billing and Payment Trends” survey, reflecting the habits of the 88.2
million households in the United States with Internet access. The survey
also shows consumers benefit mostly from speed according to 79% of
respondents; 72% preferred the method for ease of use; 71% liked the
service for its cost savings; 71% liked the control it offers; while 58%
were most concerned with environmental impact.

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Consumer Expectations Runs Out of Gas

The latest barometer of consumer attitudes and spending went into the
toilet this month. Americans are apparently waking up to the notion that
the U.S. faces a lengthy, drawn-out recovery. The RBC “CASH (Consumer
Attitudes and Spending by Household) Index” dropped to 22.4 for July, an
11.9 point decline from the prior month. The Index is composed of four
sub-indices: “RBC Current Conditions Index”; “RBC Expectations Index”;
“RBC Investment Index”; and, “RBC Jobs Index.”
The “Current Conditions Index” for July declined to 23.3 from June’s
23.8. The “Expectations Index” plunged sharply, dropping 36.1 points to
4.8, compared to 40.9 in June. The “Investment Index” showed little
movement this month, standing at 30.9 for July. Despite the unemployment
rate reaching the highest level in 26 years, the “Jobs Index” for July
saw a minor uptick to 50.5, up 3.8 points from the 46.7 observed in June.

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BMO to Fuel ADS’ AIRMILES Program in Canada

Loyalty solution provider Alliance Data Systems and BMO Bank of Montreal
have enhanced the AIR MILES credit card program.
BMO AIR MILES MasterCard cardholders will now earn 1 reward mile for
every $20(CDN) spent, vs. previously every $40 spent, and will now earn
1.5 reward miles for every $20 spent when they shop at AIR MILES
Sponsors including Shell, National Car and Alamo. BMO Bank of Montreal
is eliminating the $35 annual fee previously payable by some BMO AIR
MILES MasterCard cardholdersAdditionally, BMO Gold AIR MILES MasterCard
cardholders will receive a 25% discount on flight redemptions,
(currently, Gold cardholders receive a 20% discount for flight
redemptions); and BMO Gold AIR MILES MasterCard cardholders will
continue to earn 2 times the reward miles earned at AIR MILES Sponsors
including Shell, National Car
and Alamo; The AIR MILES Reward Program is Canada’s premier coalition
loyalty
program, with approximately two-thirds of Canadian households actively
collecting
reward miles. AIR MILES collectors earn reward miles at more than 100
leading
brand-name sponsors representing thousands of retail and service
locations across Canada.
AIR MILES reward miles can be redeemed for more than 1200 different
rewards, such
as travel, movie passes, entertainment attractions, electronic
merchandise, and more.

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BMO MASTERCARD

BMO MasterCard is set to take on American Express and other no-fee
credit cards with the introduction of its no-fee “AIR MILES” MasterCard,
offering double reward miles earned. Hopefully to win a greater share of
Canadian AIR MILES Collectors’ loyalty, BMO has additionally enhanced
the benefits of its “Gold AIR MILES” MasterCard and will be modifying
its suite of credit card products to deliver lower costs with more
rewards, including the redemption for any AIR MILES flight from 20% to
25%. BMO is also eliminating its bronze and silver AIR MILES categories,
replacing them with one no-fee BMO AIR MILES MasterCard to double its
rewards program with 1 AIR MILES reward mile for every $20 spent on the
card for the 1.2 million existing customers and remove the $35 annual
fee for another 400,000 customers. The BMO “Preferred Rate MasterCard”
will offer a 17.5% annual interest rate with no annual fee.

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Interac and INSIDE Offer Contactless Debit

The Canadian payment network Interac Association has partnered with
INSIDE Contactless to offer
debit card users enhanced contactless payment products.INSIDE
Contactless is the global leader in open-standard contactless
payment and Near Field Communication (NFC) semiconductors and software
that power
the next generation of payment, transit, identity and access control
applications. The company’s intelligent, microprocessor-based platforms
offer the
flexibility to be embedded in smart cards, mobile phones and other
consumer electronic
devices, documents, badges and other items to support a wide range of
innovative
contactless applications and bring new levels of convenience to users.
Interac Association is comprised of a diverse
membership that includes banks, trust companies, credit unions, caisses
populaires,
merchants and technology and payment related companies.

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Fiserv Card Collection Expands to 78

WI-based financial technology solution provider Fiserv has introduced a
new Card Collection featuring 78 card designs.
As part of its processing core competency, Fiserv offers the industry’s
most complete and secure card-production services, including design,
production, embossing, personalization and encoding capabilities.
Financial institutions can offer the full Card Collection to their
customers, allowing each customer to select their own card, or select
a single distinctive design for each of its card programs. With no
minimum order volume, no creative costs, and pay-as-you-go ordering,
Card Collection designs are ideal for new prepaid card programs.
Customers can choose the design that best reflects their gift-giving
occasion. The designs can also be used for, debit, credit, ATM, health
savings (HSA), flexible spending (FSA), payroll, general purpose, and
other prepaid card programs. Identity photos can be added to 12 of the
designs. All designs are Visa and MasterCard approved.

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Vanguard Contests Mini Visa Card Patents

RFID and coded product manafacture Vanguard ID Systems has announced that the United States Patent and Trademark
Office Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences has invalidated 51
claims of a 57-claim patent initially granted by the Office in 2002 to
Bank of America for its “Mini Visa Card”, a small credit card that
attaches to consumers’ key rings. Bank of America introduced the “Bank of America Mini Visa Card” in October
2002, distributing the Mini Card to millions of customers. The company
inked a deal with Visa, the largest payment card platform in the world,
giving it exclusive rights to issue the branded mini card for a one-year
period. That agreement expired October 1, 2003, giving other banks the
right to capitalize on this latest consumer craze and to develop and
issue mini cards of their own. To date, an estimated 50 million Mini
Cards have been issued. Vanguard ID
had requested reexamination of the patent based on Vanguard ID’s patents
and other prior transaction card technology. Vanguard ID Systems, founded in 1987 by inventor Rick Warther,
challenged patents related to mag-striping technology behind the
non-standard transaction cards. The Company holds a portfolio of patents
used in development of a variety of products in the data and credit card
industry, and created Mag Tag, the first-ever key tag to incorporate
magnetic strip and bar code technology.

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APAX EXPANSION

Electronic payment and risk management solutions APAX has opened an office in Panama City to expand into the Latin American and Caribbean Market, primarily focused in Panama and Costa Rica. The Company supports
processing for more than 100,000 cardholders and their merchants. The Panama office is specialized in offering card processing and electronic payment solutions to merchants selling mostly digital goods online in that region of the world. APAX says it is a worldwide credit card
processing network that operates through its processing banks to provide
merchants with reliable credit card processing services.

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Gaia Cash to Use Zong’s M-Payment Platform

Frictionless payment service Zong has teamed with social media and
entertainment site
Gaia Online to offer customers the option to purchase Gaia Cash, Gaia’s
virtual currency, with a mobile phone number.
Zong has high-scale
connectivity with more than 100 mobile carriers worldwide. The Zong
mobile payments platform features the most extensive network of direct
carrier connections across the globe. Given the financial, operational
and security risks inherent with aggregated carrier relationships,
direct relationships with carriers are a central consideration for
virtual goods, social networking and gaming companies evaluating
revenue-enhancing transaction platforms. Gaia Online is on online
community that provides a fun,
social environment for its members to make friends, play games, and even
watch movies in Gaia’s virtual theaters.

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France Certifies Hypercom’s Optimum Terminals

Hypercom has been awarded two certifications for its 32-bit multi-application Optimum T4200 and
M4200 countertop and mobile payment terminal family with French payment authority GIE Cartes
Bancaires. With the certification, Hypercom has commenced its launch campaign for the
Optimum T4200 product series in France, where it is one of the top
suppliers of card payment solutions. The Optimum countertop and mobile series has received PCI PED security
approval, MasterCard’s Payment Terminal Security approval for IP and
wireless communication and EMV Level 1 & 2 certifications for chip card
transactions. Hypercom’s existing Artema payment applications are now
available on the Optimum T4200 and M4200 family of terminals.

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BARCLAYS SMS

Barclays Bank is now offering mobile banking to its credit card
customers through SMS. Free of cost to both existing and new credit card
customers, Barclays Bank SMS allows customers to check their outstanding
balance, mini-statement details and payment details of their credit card
by sending text messages. This is in addition to such bank services as
its “Barclays Online Money Transfer,” which was introduced in December
of 2008 to allow customers in the UK to transfer money securely online
directly to any Barclays account anywhere in India. Barclays Global
Retail and Commercial Banking has operations in more than 50 countries
and employs more than 118,000 people to serve customers around the globe
through a network of more than 4,700 distribution points and more than
13,100 ATMs. (CardFlash International 12/5/2008)

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