Latino Literacy Now Platinum Visa is Launched

Actor Edward James Olmos and CardPartner has launched the “Latino Literacy Now Platinum Visa” affinity credit card.
Funds raised will support LLN initiatives to promote reading among
Latinos and others as a means of self-improvement. The non-profit Latino
Book & Family Festival earns $50 every time someone activates an LLN
card, plus an ongoing share of the charge volume for the life of the card. CardPartner
maximizes returns by stripping out costs, operating in the virtual
environment, offering free, customized self-service marketing tools, and
working with groups on a “human scale” not often seen in the credit card
industry.

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Crittenden Becomes Chairman of Citi Holding

Citi has appointed Gary Crittenden, previously Chief
Financial Officer, as Chairman
of Citi Holdings, and Edward “Ned” Kelly, previously the Head of Global
Banking,as Chief Financial Officer. In this new operational role, Crittenden will work with Mike Corbat,
the interim CEO of Citi Holdings, to optimize the value of the
businesses in this unit. Citi Holdings represents a significant portion
of the assets of Citigroup.

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UDAP Comes at the Worst Possible Time

New analysis suggests that “Unfair or Deceptive Acts or Practices”
regulation will result in a drastic reduction in available credit and an
increase in pricing. Auriemma Consulting Group says the regulation in
part severely restricts credit card issuers’ ability to adjust interest
rates, the primary means for controlling risk exposure. Given the
current trepidation in lending across the country, and the general
condition of our nation’s financial institutions, there is widespread
concern that this new regulation could not be coming at a worse time for
both consumers and issuers. To ensure their own survival, credit card
issuers must take matters into their own hands by monitoring the health
of both their financial positions and that of consumer spending.
Restriction of credit is going to force everyone, including consumers
and credit card issuers, to work together to ensure their mutual well
being. It is clear, though, that the card market is in for some
significant changes.

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New Website moneyStrands is Introduced

Strands Labs, Inc., the developer of
social recommendation and personalization technologies, announced
the public launch of its new online personal finance management service
named moneyStrands (http://www.moneystrands.com/). The innovative site
offers consumers a comprehensive set of free money management
functionality based on a highly customizable rich Internet application
platform. Strands’ awaited move into the personal finance vertical is
part of a multi-staged strategy to develop consumer facing services that
leverage its patent-pending social recommendation technology in high
value, high impact domains.

With the ongoing global financial crisis and more uncertainty about the
economy still looming, there is no denying that being “penny wise” is
the order of the day. However, for many, the idea of money management
has traditionally come to conjure up unpleasant images of monitoring
multiple bank and credit card accounts, maintaining impractical expense
sheets, and often dealing with conflicting advice from different
sources. In order to bridge this gap, moneyStrands offers its users an
extensive suite of easy to use and engaging personal finance
capabilities at no charge. The list includes:

– The ability to present a unified view of the user’s finances in
one convenient site by aggregating and automatically updating
information from all her bank, credit card and other financial accounts.
– A host of ‘widgets’ that utilize advanced data visualization
techniques to analyze and highlight the meaningful trends in the user’s
income, debt and spending patterns.
– Intuitive transaction drill down capabilities and a convenient
budgeting component.
– Configurable email reminders and mobile text alerts ensuring the
user gets notified and can quickly adapt to unforeseen financial events.
– A community oriented section that lets the user see how she
compares to her peers and others.
– A specialized version of Strands recommendation technology that
matches the user with money saving financial and commercial products and
the most relevant expert-authored money management tips based on her
financial profile.
– A highly customizable widget-based user interface with a fun and
engaging design that enables the user to uniquely combine and shuffle
the most personally relevant aspects of her financial life, all on her
own workspace.

moneyStrands also sports an easy to use iPhone application in addition
to a full-featured mobile web version for all browser-enabled smart
phones so users can also access their account balances and budgets
conveniently while on the go.

“Americans are reacting to this psyche-changing financial squeeze like
none other before and are turning to the Internet in record numbers in
search of tools that will help them get back on the right track with
their money,” said Atakan Cetinsoy, V.P. – Personal Finance Products, at
Strands. “moneyStrands has been built to do just that. We focused our
efforts on providing a fun and engaging experience that not only
encourages best practices for personal finance but also has the
potential to train users for sustainable changes in their financial
practices. I believe we have achieved this balance by automating the
most cumbersome money management tasks while putting the emphasis on
what really matters for the user to consistently replace their unhealthy
financial habits with healthy ones. moneyStrands exemplifies as much a
self-improvement psychology as it does financial mastery,” he added.

About Strands

Strands develops software technologies that help people discover the
most personally relevant content and products on the Internet. Strands’
patent-pending Social Recommender is capable of automatically learning
people’s tastes and quickly adapting to their changing information needs
as their preferences evolve over time. It can be used to generate
real-time recommendations in a vast number of domains. Strands was
established in 2003 by CEO & Founder, Francisco J. Martin and is
headquartered in Corvallis, Oregon. Currently, Strands and its
subsidiaries have more than 100 employees at offices in the U.S., Spain
and Finland.

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THINKING MONEY

Money advice website ThinkingMoney.org is proposing partnerships with
credit card companies as a way to generate income for charities, not
relying on the public
The Charity Commission has reported that as many as 52% of charities
will be
affected by the credit crunch, with 30% already reporting falls in their
income. Both business and charities alike are using strategic
partnerships to
strengthen their position in the marketplace and create longevity in
their income streams. Thinking Money can report that charities such as
The National Trust, UNICEF, Breakthrough Breast Cancer and the WWF have
all partnered with credit card companies to generate income.

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SafPay Introduces Virtucard Mall Card

Alternative payment provider SafPay has released “Virtucard”, a
cash-based virtual mall card that gives online merchants a more secure
Consumers fund their free Virtucard account for up to $1,000.00 directly
through their bank’s online bill payment system as if they were paying a
bill. The bank’s trusted third-party processors handle the transactions,
which means neither SafPay nor the merchant have access to the
consumer’s checking account information. As a result, merchants are free
from the added risk of handling sensitive financial information and the
consumer’s financial assets are not at risk when they shop online using
their Virtucard. Virtucard merchants are not subject to the extensive and often
severe compliance measures, such as PCI, that face online credit card
merchants because consumer financial information is not at risk. The
lack of additional transaction fees also means that merchants can now
accept micro-payments that have been previously too cost-prohibitive to
accept with a credit card merchant account.

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NFC & ETSI

The NFC Forum has issued a MoU with the European Telecommunications
Standards Institute (ETSI). Under the terms
of the agreement, the NFC Forum and ETSI will align their activities to
help the NFC community to implement solutions that comply with
NFC-related specifications developed by both organizations.
ETSI develops globally-applicable standards for many different
Information and Communication Technologies (ICT). Among these are
standards for smart cards for mobile communications and other
applications, standards for close range inductive data communications
and for a variety of short range devices.
As the NFC Forum and ETSI prepare to release additional specifications,
the relationship will aid the coordination of activities related to
testing and product certification. The agreement will also enable the
two organizations to exchange questions and answers regarding each
other’s work and to better coordinate future endeavors.

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PULSE to Test Acculynk’s PaySecure PIN debit

PULSE has signed an agreement with Acculynk under which PULSE will test Acculynk’s “PaySecure” Internet PIN debit technology in a pilot program. The pilot will involve selected PULSE merchant and financial institution participants and is slated to begin in the second quarter of 2009. Acculynk’s PIN-pad technology integrates directly into the merchant checkout process, providing a seamless experience for online shoppers. The consumer will be aware of the PIN entry option only if his or her card is enabled for PIN debit. The consumer will have the choice of entering their PIN or completing the purchase as a signature debit transaction.

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M-CUBE & DEMELZA

Prepaid card provider M-Cube has launched the new “Demelza MasterCard”
prepaid card and will back the fundraising effort by donating 100% of the profits generated from every cardholder transaction to Demelza.
Demelza is an organisation providing hospice care for over 570 children
with life-limiting illnesses and their families across Kent, East Sussex
and South London. In addition, M-Cube has pledged to bear the costs incurred by all other
suppliers involved in launching the programme. The prepaid card will be
issued by Newcastle Building Society, which has also agreed to waive its
start-up costs associated with launching the programme. Cardholders will be able to
benefit from a range of additional benefits including premier discounts from including retailers, leisure centres and
theatres; ash back rewards on selected purchases; free day out vouchers, DVD rentals, music downloads and magazines and exclusive competitions.

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Allpoint Inks Cardinal Community CU

OH-based Cardinal Community Credit Union has selected surcharge-free Allpoint as its ATM network provider.
Cardinal chose Allpoint due to the Key Bank surcharge-free ATM program
being shuttered, leaving the credit union to find a quick solution that
made sense for Cardinal members. Allpoint was able to provide Cardinal
surcharge-free access before the Key Bank service terminated; ensuring
cardholders have surcharge-free access to their funds despite the
unexpected loss of the Key Bank program.
Cardinal Community Credit Union serves more than 20,000 members and controls more than
$160 million in assets.

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Credit Card Mail Reduction Impacts USPS

The US Postal Service is making changes in management and giving thousands of employees early retirement. The Postal Service is set to offer 150,000 workers the option of taking an early retirement, as well as make cuts in management. The Post Office will also be closing offices as part an effort to eliminate over 1,400 management positions, in response to financial losses caused by the troubling economy.

The Postal Service has stated it has had to cut millions of work hours, halted new construction projects, freeze executive salaries, and other activities to adjust to the financial shortfall from dramatic decreases in mail volume.

The Post Office is stated to have reported $384 million in first quarter losses for the fiscal year.

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On Track Innovations Slips 30% in 4Q/08

On Track Innovations reported revenues for the fourth quarter were $9.1
million, a decrease of 30% compared to $13.0 million in the same period
last year. Net loss for the year was $17.2 million. The Company says it
has implemented a cost cutting plan and has been able to reduce its
operating expenses on a non-GAAP basis (excluding other operating
expenses) by 17%. The program includes: a 10% executive pay cut,
workforce reduction, reduction in employee benefits, closing certain
development activities for low margin products, and consolidating
production centers. OTI says it is targeting revenues between $45 to $50
million for 2009. For complete details on OTI’s latest performance visit
CardData ([www.carddata.com](http://www.carddata.com)).

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