Toyota Motor Gears-Up for a Co-Brand

Toyota Motor is reportedly gearing-up for the launch of a “Toyota” co-branded credit card. Toyota Financial already has issued the “Lexus Pursuits VISA” card with about 50,000 cardholders. According to the Detroit News, Toyota hasn’t disclosed the terms of the new credit card, but said they would be similar to those of the Lexus card, which gives users 1.5 points per dollar spent in various transactions and 5 points per dollar spent at its dealerships. Customers can pay for up to 10 percent of a new Lexus with their accumulated points. While Toyota’s credit card is its first venture in the USA, the automaker does have branded credit cards in India, Italy and Japan. The company also has a retail bank in Poland and Russia and sells auto insurance in several European countries.

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U.S. Cards-in-Force Grows 6% in 2007

The number of general purpose credit cards in-force in the U.S. grew 6% last year and 15% over the past five years to 737.2 million. MasterCard gained ground in 2007 increasing its market share, based on credit cards in-force to 37.8% from 37.4% in 2006. VISA with 365 million credit cards-in-force slipped from a market share of 49.6% to 49.5%. Discover dropped from a 7.2% share to 6.7%, according to CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]). American Express held steady at a 5.9% share with 43.5 million U.S. cards. Five years ago there were 643 million general purpose credit cards in circulation in the U.S.

U.S. GENERAL PURPOSE CREDIT CARDS IN-FORCE
VISA MC AMEX DISC
2003 283.7 272.6 36.4 50.7
2004 295.3 271.5 39.9 50.8
2005 327.0 277.0 43.0 50.4
2006 345.0 260.0 40.7 49.9
2007 365.0 279.0 43.5 49.7
Source: CardData (www.carddata.com)

[1]: http://www.carddata.com

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Citibank Expands the ThankYou Network

New Citibank checking account customers will get 16,000 Thank You Points worth $150 in gift cards. When customers open a qualifying checking account, enroll in the ThankYou Network and perform qualifying activities they can also get triple ThankYou Points each month for a year, for everyday banking activities linked to their checking account. The ThankYou Network is a no-fee rewards program that allows members to accumulate points from a growing network of places, and pool points into one ThankYou Member Account. ThankYou Members get points for banking at Citibank with an eligible checking account, using participating Citi credit cards, and booking qualified travel on Expedia.com. Members can redeem their points for valuable rewards at http://www.thankyou.com — from travel, brand-name merchandise, and gift cards at favorite stores, to unique experiences and charitable donations. They can even create their own rewards with ThankYou Network’s exclusive Your Wish Fulfilled service.

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Visa Launches Go World Olympic Spots

Visa Inc has launched a U.S. advertising campaign that evokes the emotion and memories of unforgettable moments in Olympic history, featuring current Olympic and Paralympic athletes and Olympic legends. The new “Go World” creative sets itself apart from other recent advertising campaigns through the use of striking sepia tones combined with dramatic still photography and moving images from past Olympic competitions. “Come Together,” the first in a series of national television commercials debuts tonight on CBS during “How I Met Your Mother.” Four additional spots featuring six-time gold medal swimmer Michael Phelps, Paralympic track and field gold medalist Cheri Blauwet, gold medal gymnast Kerri Strug and sprinter Derek Redmond will premiere throughout the week. Subsequent television and online creative will include Visa sponsored athletes who are members of “Team Visa Beijing” including Bryan Clay and Allyson Felix, Paul Hamm and Nastia Liukin, Steven Lopez, Katie Hoff, Bubba Harris, Kerri Walsh as well as Paralympian Marlon Shirley. Visa’s Olympic television commercials will air leading up to and during NBC’s broadcast of the “Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.”

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Companies Use Procurement Strategies

Based on data from 215 respondents, 67% of companies save on travel when using procurement strategies. Additional findings show 83% of companies do not expect their travelers to travel less in the future, 62% are considering procurement activities for 5-15% travel savings and 67% credited procurement activities with creating savings over the past year. Also, 53% are using preferred suppliers, 51% are applying demand management principles and 73% of companies measuring KPIs tracked airline service success. American Express Business Travel has released these findings, the organization’s second annual “Strategic Sourcery” procurement practices survey, in conjunction with Business Travel News.

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VeriFone Inks Tim Hortons & Carrabba’s

Last year, VeriFone inked a deal to provide Tim Hortons with 7,500 of its “Vx 570” payment terminals, the EMV-ready “SC 5000” PINpads for credit and “QuickPay Tim Card” payments at all store locations in the U.S. and Canada. In the Tim Hortons deal, the roll-out began Feb 15th, with approximately 1,000 “Vx 570” systems deployed at 375 stores to date; the Canadian deployment throughout more than 2,100 stores began last summer. The Interac-certified “Vx 570” is PCI PED-approved, has “EMV Level 1” and “Level 2 Type” approval and is RoHS-compliant. There are more than 2,750 Tim Hortons stores across Canada, and over 350 locations in the U.S. VeriFone also signed a deal with Carrabba’s Italian Grill for its “ON THE SPOT” payment system. “ON THE SPOT” has two main platforms: the “Vx 670” for at-the-table, carside or point-of-delivery payment for full-service family, casual and fine dining restaurants; and the “QX720” for use at drive-thru windows. There are currently 236 Carrabba’s Italian Grill locations around the country.

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Givex Lands the McAlister’s Deli Card

MS-based McAlister Deli has completed the conversion of its gift card system to Givex. In addition to real-time gift card transaction processing, McAlister’s Deli will benefit from a full range of support services, including fund settlement between franchisees and corporate locations, online program administration and reporting, card production and marketing, and more.Givex is a global provider of closed loop card technologies including gift, loyalty and other stored value programs. Merchants can easily convert over to Givex without disrupting gift card redemption and other functionality.

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TSYS Hires BofA Merchant Services Exec

TSYS Acquiring Solutions has appointed David E. Wood, previously with Bank of America, as COO. Wood served as a senior executive with Bank of America for the past 15 years and was most recently responsible for its BA Merchant Services operations in Louisville, Ky. BA Merchant Services was recently ranked as the second largest merchant acquirer in the United States. Prior to Wood’s tenure with Bank of America, he held management positions in operations with Bank One. He holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Hardin Simmons University.

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ORCC Survey Shows Consumers Tapping Savings

Online Resources Corporation have released the results of its second survey of U.S. households and how their bill payment patterns are being affected by ongoing economic softness. Key findings of the survey include 52% of households report that it is harder to meet their financial obligations, an increase from 43% six months ago with more than half of households reported taking money out of savings, including retirement accounts, to pay for necessary living expenses or their household bills. While credit cards continue to have the highest reported delinquency rate, mortgage and utility delinquency rates have increased significantly in the past six months and 14% of households with an income greater than $100,000 reported being delinquent and a sizeable portion of households are severely delinquent with 14% reported having at least one bill 90 days or more overdue, with credit cards having the highest percentage of severe delinquency.

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The Conference Board Index Edges Up

The Conference Board has released the “Composite Index of Leading Economic Indicators” which reports an 0.1% increase in April, following a 0.1% increase in March, and a -0.3% decline in February. The leading index increased for the second straight month in April. In April, the six-month rate of decline in the leading index slowed to -1.2$% (a -2.3% annual rate), from – 2.4% (a -4.7% annual rate) from July 2007 to January 2008. Six of the ten indicators that make up the leading index increased in April. The positive contributors were stock prices, interest rate spread, building permits, average weekly initial claims for unemployment insurance (inverted), index of supplier deliveries (vendor performance) and manufacturers’ new orders for consumer goods and materials. The negative contributors were index of consumer expectations, average weekly manufacturing hours, and manufacturers’ new orders for nondefense capital goods.

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Givex Introduces the SKU Loyalty Program

Card management technology provider Givex has launched its SKU (Stock Keeping Unit) Loyalty Program. Merchants can reward customers for purchasing specific products or services. Givex merchants who subscribe to this service can tie point rewards or discounts to the purchase of specific SKUs. Merchants specify the SKUs to be included in the program and the corresponding rewards. They will be able to manage these settings using a secure online interface. Whenever a loyalty card holder makes a purchase, the Givex database automatically checks for relevant SKUs and applies their associated rewards, allowing merchants to focus on the customer experience. The flexible Givex system can be further customized with promotional rules, such as providing bonus points if the SKU was purchased on a particular day of the week.

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Experian Launches a Biz Monitoring Service

Experian has launched its “Account Monitoring Service” for business clients. Some of the enhanced triggers include score changes, payment behavior changes, public record filings, including bankruptcy, liens and judgments, collection filings, changes in key payment ratios, delinquent accounts and inquiries The “Account Monitoring Service” is available to clients in three convenient delivery methods, including batch, Web service or through its new software interface, “Portfolio Alert Advisor”. The new software provides enhanced filtering capabilities to view and process alerts in a prioritized list that can be expanded to provide specific details about each event or change. “Portfolio Alert Advisor” also improves the account management process by providing a multiuser, workflow-driven environment that helps reduce labor costs and time spent managing individual accounts.

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