A new study on business incentives reveals that companies who currently use gift cards as employee incentives spend 49% of their incentive budgets on gift cards, rivaling the use of cash incentives at 32%. Also, 62% of incentive gift card purchases are for retail stores, including discount, specialty and department stores, followed by restaurants, which make up 24% of all single merchant gift card purchases for business incentives. The study, commissioned by First Data, found that 40% of gift cards are purchased from the merchant’s store, while 37% are purchased directly from their headquarters or central point of sale. Performance recognition was cited by 88% of respondents, and sales incentives was cited by 64% of all respondents, as the most popular occasions for giving employee gift card incentives. While volume discounts are highly preferred, many merchants have yet to provide programs to address this desire. Less than half of gift card purchasers say they receive a discount off the face value of the incentive gift card. The median company incentive budget for respondents is $50,000, and approximately one-third expect to increase the share of their budgets allocated to gift cards.Details
Allied Irish Bank & First Data has signed agreements to launch
a joint venture in merchant acquiring to provide card acquiring in the
Republic of Ireland, the United Kingdom and throughout Europe.
This will provide for enhanced functionality for AIB’s 30,000 merchant
customers and offer merchant services to enable expansion of the
bank’s card acquiring. AIB’s card acquiring businesses is projected to
conduct 140 million and 13 million transactions, respectively, before
the beginning of 2008. Both companies will participate in daily operations
of the venture and have a presence on the board of directors. First Data
has operations in 38 countries, serves over 5 million merchant locations
and 1,900 card issuers while AIB Group has over 380 outlets across
Discover Financial Services has teamed with Experian Consumer Direct to introduce “Credit ScoreTracker”, a comprehensive credit score tracking product for Discover Cardmembers. “Credit ScoreTracker” enables Discover Cardmembers to receive their Experian credit report and credit score with notification of key changes to their credit score and credit risk level. They also can view a tracking graph that shows how their score has trended over time. In addition, cardmembers can take advantage of resources including articles and an interactive survey and quiz designed to provide valuable information that can be used to help them make better financial decisions.Details
Netherlands-based NXP and Japan’s Sony Corporation have teamed to create Austria-based Moversa, a joint venture that will drive global adoption of contactless smart card applications in mobile phones
using NFC. The new company will plan, develop, produce and market a secure chip, a “Universal Secure Access Module,” that incorporates both “MIFARE” and “FeliCa” operating systems and applications. First samples of the secure chip will be available by mid-2008 for solutions embedded in mobile phones. Initial commercial deployments are targeted for the end of next year. NXP and Sony will continue to offer chips and applications based on their respective technology platforms “MIFARE” and “FeliCa,” while developing NFC technologies jointly.
Houston-based off-premise ATM specialist Cardtronics posted third quarter revenues of $110.6 million, a 45% leap over the year-ago quarter and up 43% sequentially. The increase was primarily driven by the July acquisition of the financial services business of 7-Eleven, which added $30.1 million of revenues in the third quarter. However, the Company recorded a net loss for the quarter of $10.7 million, compared to a net loss of $0.3 million for the same period in 2006. The net loss was attributable to growth initiatives, in-house processing conversion efforts, higher vault cash costs, and expenses attributable to the 7-Eleven ATM acquisition. Average transacting ATMs for the third quarter totaled 29,880, which represents an increase of 16% over 3Q/06. Cash withdrawal transactions in the third quarter increased over 54% to 49.7 million. Average cash withdrawal transactions per ATM per month during the third quarter increased 33% to 555 compared to the same period in 2006, and average revenues per ATM per month in the quarter increased 26% to $1,185. During the quarter, Chase announced it will be placing its brand on over 400 ATMs in Walgreens drugstores throughout Texas and Washington Mutual announced an agreement with Cardtronics to place its brand on over 300 ATMs in CVS/pharmacy locations in Texas’ major metropolitan areas. For complete details on Cardtronics latest results visit CardData ([www.carddata.com]).
New research shows that 57% of consumers plan to buy gift cards, while 88% said they will purchase two or more gift cards this holiday season. Nearly 19% said they would purchase more than six gift cards this holiday season. According to the National Retail Federation annual “Gift Card Survey,” sales will total $26.3 billion this holiday season, compared to $24.8 billion in 2006. Additionally, the average consumer will spend $156 on gift cards this year compared to $146 during the 2006 holiday season and $117 for the 2005 holiday season. More than 5% said they would spend more than $500 on gift cards this year. The NRF study also found that debit cards will be used for 40% of holiday purchases this year compared to 32% for credit cards, 22% for cash and 6% for checks. The survey, which polled 7,982 consumers, was conducted for NRF by BIGresearch from October 31st thru November 7th.Details
Firethorn Holdings has announced that financial service provider USAA will offer the Firethorn mobile banking and payments solution to its 6 million members. The Firethorn mobile banking and payments solution is customizable and branded, enabling USAA to tailor the application to highlight specific products and services for its members. The mobile banking solution will be featured on AT&T and Verizon Wireless mobile handsets allowing wireless users to easily locate the application. USAA members, using their Firethorn-enabled mobile application, will be able to pay bills, check balances, view history and transfer funds from their USAA accounts. CheckFree Corporation provides USAA with bill payment and presentment capabilities which USAA members will now be able to extend to their mobile handsets. Firethorn is a mobile banking and payments enabler supported by financial institutions and wireless carriers.Details
PA-based NCO Group reported that third quarter revenue was up about 2% to $307.2 million. The Company also posted EBITDA of $44.5 million and a net loss of $3.1 million for the quarter. NCO noted that the ARM division operated slightly below its revenue and profitability targets primarily as a result of weaker than expected consumer payment patterns and lower than expected revenue derived from owned portfolio collections ARM generated $207.5 million in 3Q/07 revenues. During the third quarter, the CRM division also operated below its revenue and profitability targets primarily as a result of unanticipated client program changes and unanticipated ramp-up costs associated with several new client opportunities. CRM produced $83 million in revenues. During the quarter, the Portfolio Management division exceeded its revenue and profitability targets primarily due to ramp-up of newly acquired portfolios. Portfolio Management generated $45 million in third quarter revenues. For complete details on NCO Group’s latest results visit CardData ([www.carddata.com]).
ACI Worldwide has released a rules-based solution that automates the resolution of cardholder disputes and processing of chargebacks. The new “ACI Dispute Management System” provides visibility to disputes at any stage during the lifecycle and enables the identification of repetitive cardholder disputes, multiple transactions associated with a cardholder dispute, and multiple transactions associated with a specific dispute arising from a particular fraud attack. ACI says its new system is unique in the marketplace in its singular focus on case management. Exception and dispute processing are based on electronic folders that represent individual customer cases. Multiple disputed transactions and the associated processing can be combined in each case, providing queue management via parameterized processes. The new ACI system also enables customers to generate comprehensive audit trails and stores all due dates and required customer notifications to maintain a complete historical file on each case.Details
CA-based electronic payment processor RentPayment has renewed its agreement with VISA to offer an integrated payment solution to apartment landlords for their resident’s automatic monthly rent payments and for one-time rent and security deposit payments. By accepting VISA products through RentPayment, property managers benefit from reduced administrative expenses from software integration of the electronic payments and increased closing ratios when prospective residents can use their VISA card for security deposits for RentPayment’s over 2.5 million apartment units under management.Details
Green Dot has announced that Chris Britt, previously manager of VISA’s General Purpose Prepaid Card product line, has joined the company as Chief Product Officer. In his new position, Britt is responsible for the product strategy, development and management of all Green Dot consumer-facing products and services including prepaid debit cards, credit cards, gift cards and Green Dot Network cash acceptance. Previously, Britt developed and managed VISA’s relationships with key prepaid issuers, processors and partners. His other achievements at Visa include co-developing and managing Visa ReadyLink and authorizing multiple patent-pending applications for the prepaid category. Britt began his career in strategy consulting with Accenture after graduating from Tulane University.Details
GE Money has renewed its consumer financing agreement with Thomasville Furniture. The no-annual fee Thomasville credit program provides various financing options that include the EasyPay, a low fixed interest program. With purchases of $1,500 or more, consumers can select a pre-payment plan for a period of 12, 24, 36, 48 or 60 months. In addition, the program provides dealers with a wide variety of revolving promotional offers to help meet the needs of their customers. Thomasville furniture is sold through more than 150 independently owned Thomasville Home Furnishings Stores as well as more than 400 leading independent retail stores.Details