SUPERVALU Stores Beefs-Up Refund Rewards

Grocery retailer SUPERVALU has rolled out the “refund rewards” loyalty
program that offers up to 10% added to a gift card. Under the “refund
rewards” program, customers who purchase grocery gift
cards in either $250 or $300 increments will get another $20 or $30
added to the card, respectively. Customers who are interested in the
refund reward program can purchase
grocery gift cards at the customer service counters at their local
stores; no tax form or refund check is necessary. Grocery gift card
purchases may not exceed $1,250 per household, not including the bonus
amount.

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AIR MILES SURVEY

AIR MILES “March Break Survey” finds that although 79% of Canadians agree that they are sick of winter and need a break,
close to 50% will not be taking time off because they can’t afford to. However, 31% of Canadians who have children plan to take vacation
time off during this March Break. While that means more Canadians are acting
on their need to recharge, up from 28% in 2008. Canada tops the choice of travel destinations according to the “AIR
MILES Reward Program Survey”. In order of popularity, AIR MILES collectors redeemed
reward miles for travel this March Break to Canadian destinations, Florida,
Las Vegas, California, Phoenix, New York, Mexico, Hawaii, Europe and the
Caribbean with 60% of respondents only planning to
spend $500 or less on travel, accommodation and entertainment expenses
during their time off and they hope to pay off their trips quickly.

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American Consumers Trust Their Primary Bank

New research shows that while Americans’ economic fears continue, there
are some institutions they still trust, particularly their own primary
bank, credit unions and community banks. Synovate found that at the
micro level, consumers do overwhelmingly trust their own primary bank,
regardless of the type of institution (81%). They also trust
credit unions (71%) and community banks (68%). When asked what
individual Americans can do, if anything, to help the
economy get back on track, respondents said ‘buy American made products’
(47%) and ‘cut spending and increase savings’ (29%). A more gloomy
one-third (32%) said there’s nothing individuals can do – that it’s up
to the government or Corporate America to get the economy back on track.
People are obviously fearful about their own personal economic
situations. Interestingly, the number one concern (59%) is that they
will not have enough money for an emergency, followed by losing money on
their investments (38%), losing their jobs (37%) and not being able to
pay the rent or mortgage (35%). Fifty-one percent also say they’re worse
off financially than they were a year ago while only 14% say they’re
doing better financially now.

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DEUTSCHE BANK & LUUP

Deutsche Bank’s Global Transaction Banking has partnered with mobile
payment provider Luup with a
new mobile payment service will allow the Bank’s GTB clients to
offer millions of consumers an instant and secure payments and money
transfer service from any mobile device with any mobile network. The
global mobile money transfer market is projected to reach US$ 21 billion
by 2011. It is the first time a major commercial bank has offered a
cross-border
mobile payments service to its banking and corporate customers.
Deutsche Bank GTB has chosen to partner with Luup because of its proven
technology and experience, strong organization and focus on compliance.

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Paragon Application Systems’ Revenues Soar

E-payment simulation provider Paragon Application systems has reported a jump of 32% in growth for 2008.
In 2008, over 50 new clients turned to Paragon for their testing needs
including one of the largest merchant processors in the world, the
largest payment processor in Canada, and some of the largest processors
in Latin America and Russia. Paragon executed more than 100 agreements
with new and existing customers worldwide and sold over 200 product
licenses for a total of more than 1200. Those projects include implementing contactless card support with a major issuer;
assisting in EMV implementation at several Canadian financial
organizations; facilitating the integration of development teams from 60
countries for a Top-10 bank; implementing test cases to exercise fraud detection for a major
processor; verifying a BASE24 upgrade at one of the largest processors in Russia; assisting with a migration to Postilion software in a major
Middle Eastern bank and refining testing methodologies and instituting ‘best practices’
with a major processor in Latin America.

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Vendor Safe Inks the Back Bay Restaurant Group

IT security provider Vendor Safe has signed an agreement with MA-based
BackBay Restaurant Group to offer “PCI Managed Security Services.” Through
the agreement, Back Bay will secure its transaction processing using
Vendor Safe’s PCI Managed Security Suite, a single source solution for
rapid, low-cost credit card fraud prevention. The PCI Managed Security Suite enables restaurants and other credit card
merchants to secure their environment, going beyond the PCI standard.
Standard components include the “Global Security Mesh/ VPN”, a managed gateway solution providing
best-in-class security: “HotSpot Plus”, a robust wireless solution with four segregated
wireless networks and the “TrustVault Certificate”, a $50,000 guarantee against breaches.

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Diebold Restates Earnings for Q4 and 2008

ATM specialist Diebold reports that the tax provision for the fourth
quarter and full-year 2008 will be approximately $4.9 million higher
than was reported in the company’s unaudited earnings announcement dated
February 4th. This will result in diluted earnings per share for the
fourth quarter and full-year 2008 being $.08 lower than was previously
reported. This adjustment has no impact on the company’s 2009 full-year
revenue and EPS expectations.

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FTC New Videos Promote Free Credit Reports

The FTC has released two new videos to promote that it is the only
authorized source to get a free annual credit report. The new videos
highlight the differences between AnnualCreditReport.com and those other
sites that claim to provide “free” credit reports. Other sites require
users to pay hidden fees or agree to additional services. For example,
some sites provide a free credit report if you enroll in a new service.
If you don’t cancel the service during a short trial period, you’re
likely to see membership fees on your credit card statement. The “Fair
Credit Reporting Act” requires each of the nationwide consumer reporting
companies – Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax – to provide a free copy
of your credit report, at your request, once every 12 months from
AnnualCreditReport.com, a toll-free telephone number, or a mailing address.

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MicroBilt Expands its Board of Directors

Risk management provider MicroBilt has added Michael Nathans and Tom Smith to the Board of Directors.
Michael Nathans, PRBC’s founder and now Chief Development Officer of
MicroBilt’s PRBC Division, and Tom Smith, a founder of Total Technology
Ventures, have been added to the board and will have full voting roles.
Nathans founded PRBC in 2002, after 25 years in the residential real
estate and finance industries. Prior to founding the company, he was a
Senior Manager with PriceWaterhouse’s Asset Securitization, Mortgage
Banking, and Financial Risk Management practices. Mr. Nathans also
co-founded Just the Facts, Inc. one of the first services to use credit
histories and court records to screen tenants for apartment complex
owners and managers. Smith is one of the founders of Total Technology Ventures, an
Atlanta-based venture capital firm that provides capital primarily to
early and expansion-stage financial technology companies. Prior to
founding Total Technology Ventures, he was Vice President of Small and
Medium Business at IBM. Earlier, he was the Southern Area General
Manager for IBM’s sales, marketing and services business in a 13-state
region.

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Credit Card ROAA Tanks for the Eighth Month

The “Return on Average Assets” has declined to a revised 79 basis points in January for credit card issuers. This is the lowest ratio ever recorded and is two basis points below the previous record low of December 2005. This marks the eighth consecutive month of decline, according to CardData (www.carddata.com). Pre-tax profit for the U.S. credit card industry declined 2.7% in 2008 to $39.6 billion driven by rising expense streams, especially charge-offs. During 2008 estimated industry revenues increased 5.6% to $169.0 billion while estimated expenses rose 8.4% to $129.4 billion. According to R.K. Hammer, 2008 expense streams include $45.3 billion for operating expense, $28.2 billion for blended cost of funds and $55.9 billion in net charge-offs. Charge-offs rose 36% in 2008 and represent 43% of the expense stream. On the revenue side, interest income rose 4.4% to $101.4 billion and fee income increased 7.3% to $67.6 billion. Hammer notes there have been eight recessions, eight panics, and three depressions in the U.S. since 1797. The recessions averaged 1.4 years in length. The Hammer econometric model indicates the current economic downturn began late in 4Q/07 and is not expected to run its course until at least mid-3Q09, placing further pressure on card issuer/bank revenues and profits for the next 9 months or longer.

U.S. ROA
Jul 08: 2.00%
Aug 08: 1.48%
Sep 08: 1.11%
Oct 08: 1.04%
Nov 08: 0.95%
Dec 08: 0.88%
Jan 09: 0.79%
Source: CardData (www.carddata.com)

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Visa and MasterCard Rank High in Branding

A new report has found that only credit card companies, notably Visa,
were ranked significantly higher among financial brands. The Milestones
survey found that the worst-rated financial brands are AIG (ranked 651st
out of 653 brands), Citi (604th), Liberty Mutual (591st), Bank of
America (569th) and Chase (487th). The two most notable exceptions are
Visa and MasterCard, which ranked 79th and 242nd respectively. Taking
into consideration overall awareness levels of each brand along with
consumer affection, the rankings change to push Visa into 34th position
with MasterCard 122nd. American Express also made the top half of this
separate list in 241st position. Milestones shows a strong link between
the affection consumers hold for a brand and its stock performance.

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