Wells Fargo Launches Debt Reduction Initiatives

Wells Fargo has rolled-out three new programs to assist consumers with
debt reduction and savings. The products include: “Debt Pay Down
Solution,” “Cash Back Cards,” and “Smarter Credit.” The “Debt Pay Down
Solution” enables customers to consolidate high-interest debt and lower
monthly payments through a Wells Fargo personal loan. Customers use the
new Wells Fargo “My Spending Report with Budget Watch” to find
opportunities each month to spend less and then transfer the extra money
to the principal of the new loan. The “Cash Back Card” and the new “Cash
Back College Card” offers a full 1% in cash back. Once customers have
earned $25, they can apply the reward toward a personal loan or line of
credit or to decrease their card balances, add the cash to their
savings/checking accounts or get it in a check. Customers also can add
their “Check Cards” to the “Cash Back” program at no cost to earn 0.25%
on their signature debit card purchases. The “Smarter Credit” program
assists customers to establish or rebuild credit, including information
on how to order free credit reports and learn money skills for life
through Wells Fargo’s “Hands on Banking/El futuro en tus manos” program.
Highlighted throughout is “3 Steps to Smarter Credit Choices.”

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Most Online Transactors Avoid Late Payment Fees

A new study shows that more than half of consumers who transact
online never pay late fees. The report found that more than 31% of
those who transact online are “Baby Boomers,” and more than 58% are
over the age of 45. Also, more than 56% of those who transact online
have attended college with more than half acquiring a graduate degree.
In terms of credit cards, 90% have credit cards and 47% carry no debt on
their cards. The research by Billeo says 75% of those who pay bills and
shop online save electronic receipts of their transactions and
identified ease of “tracking online purchases and payments” as a top
motivator. More than two-thirds of online consumers currently pay at
least one of their monthly bills with a credit or debit card. In other
research, Billeo found that credit card bills are the most popular bill
paid online by consumers in terms of number of bills paid.

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MEGA MONDAY 2008

The busiest day for online holiday shopping is expected to reap GBP320m.
Internet retail trade body IMRG said it expected the peak time for
shopping to be between 1pm and 2pm, as consumers who had done their
research over the weekend logged on to order their gifts. Card issuer
Retail Decisions (ReD) has forecast that the
busiest minute of the day will be 1.31pm and predicts GBP980,865 will be
spent in what has been dubbed a “mega
minute”. Last year’s busiest minute online was 1:09pm on December 10
when UK shoppers spent an estimated GBP767,500.

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Archway Ships 450MM Gift Cards in 08

Gift card distributor Archway will have shipped 450 million cards for
2008. The volume of gift cards handled by the company is 10 million more
than predicted earlier in the year and double the volume handled in
2007. In fact, for the second year in a row, the volume of gift cards
handled by the company has doubled — 220 million in 2007 and 110 million
in 2006. Archway distributes secure financial cards such as VISA,
MasterCard, Discover and American Express in addition to brand specific
loaded and non-loaded cards for retailers and restaurants.

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Equifax and IXI Team to Drill Deeper

Equifax and financial data collector IXI Corporation have formed a
partnership to provide a comprehensive view of a household’s financial
position. Through the Equifax and IXI partnership, financial
institutions can determine a customer’s likelihood to pay. Financial
institutions will gain access to a range of superior data and
tools that further help them make better decisions. The new solutions
will link measures of a household’s credit with IXI’s proven ZIP+4 based
average assets and investment tendency measures in order to enable firms
to achieve a better understanding of their customers’ financial position.

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Transcard Cardholders Get Free Reports

Prepaid card provider Transcard is offering cardholders free access to
their credit scores. Along with receiving their credit score,
cardholders can also view their scores in relation to national averages
with color-coded, detailed graphs; monitor their scores to ensure they
improve; access credit-building tools and advice and receive articles
that help them make better choices and educate them about occurrences in
the credit industry. TransCard is a stored-value processor and a
global provider of transaction-based processing services.

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AmEx Pumps $2B into its Delta Co-Brand Extension

Delta Air Lines has picked up more than $2 billion in combined
incremental liquidity and contract enhancements under a deal with
American Express. Both firms extended their multi-year contract for an
exclusive co-brand credit card partnership. Under terms of the
agreement, Delta will receive an immediate $1 billion boost to its
liquidity from a purchase of “SkyMiles.” Delta expects to receive an
additional $1 billion from contract improvements through 2010. In
return, AmEx will be able to grow the value of its co-brand cards and
the “Membership Rewards” program by offering AmEx cardholders expanded
options for booking travel. In addition, AmEx will have the opportunity
to increase merchant acceptance in more places in the Midwest region.
In late 2009, Delta plans to merge “Northwest WorldPerks” with
“SkyMiles.” Additionally, Delta plans to continue its longstanding
partnership with U.S. Bank through their existing corporate
relationships including merchant acquiring, an expanded debit card
program and corporate lending. AmEx and Delta have had a co-branded
credit card relationship since 1996.

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Rewards Rank #2 in Driving Card Apps

A new report from Aite Group focuses on consumers who
choose credit cards based on rewards programs and the factors that drive
consumers to select one card over another and outlines ways in which
card issuers can best compete for the use of their card above others in
rewards card users’ wallets. Consumers rank rewards as the number two
reason for applying for a specific card, behind no annual fees and ahead
of low interest rates, according to Aite Group’s January 2008 survey of
422 cardholders. Among the ways to increase the use of a
specific rewards card, issuers should consider expanding the range of
goods and services that earn premium rewards.

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MICRO-SD CARD

The first mobile security card offering contactless smart-card security and mobile payment in addition to the usual data storage functions has been introduced. The new Giesecke & Devrient “Mobile Security Card CL” does not require a battery to operate the contactless interface as the necessary energy is tapped from the radio field generated by the card reader. The mobile security cards designed by G&D are suitable for use in mobile phones, smart phones, netbooks and other mobile devices, and even in USB tokens. The only requirement is that they should be equipped with a slot for “microSD” cards. Such cards can provide security functions for all of these devices, as well as PCs and laptops, without the need for an external smart card reader. The latest product in this family of cards, the “Mobile Security Card CL,” has been enhanced to include a contactless interface in addition to the integrated smart card, based on the international standards “ISO 14443” and “MIFARE.” The range of possible contactless applications includes electronic access control to buildings, electronic event ticketing and transit ticketing, and electronic passes for companies, libraries and universities. The “Mobile Security Card CL” can also be used for contactless mobile payment. With its user-friendly interface for mobile phones and desktop or laptop PCs, it supports all of the usual smart card applications such as secure banking transactions, e-government, and the secure storage of digital certificates for PKI applications.

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Belk Migrates from SVS to SmartClixx

NC-based retailer Belk has switched from Comdata’s SVS platform to the
“SmartClixx” software platform for processing gift card transactions in
its 300 department stores. SmartClixx works with some of
the world’s largest retailers
providing in-house stored value card and gift card application
software and services without charging per-transaction fees. Security,
flexibility, streamlined processes and operations, data mining, and
future capability with significant cost savings.

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HOLIDAY SURVEY

A national survey commissioned by INTERAC found that half of Canadians
have already set or are planning to
set a holiday shopping budget this year, with 73% planning to research
prices before buying to stay on budget, while 60%
have bought early to take advantage of sales throughout the year, and
56% plan to use INTERAC more often so that they only spend the money
they have. Other methods to manage spending include 71% of respondents
plan on setting spending limits per
person or overall,51% make purchases throughout the
year in order to avoid one large sum at one time and 36% are cutting
back on
other purchases to put towards holiday spending.

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