AmEx Set to Auction Off Travel Packages

Starting next week U.S. and U.K. American Express cardholders can bid online for nine declining-price travel packages, offered in varying quantities, ranging from 10 to 30. AmEx will auction off one travel package a day – and once a trip goes on sale, the price drops every twenty minutes. The deals will continue to drop in price until 7:00 pm ET or until the packages sell out, whichever comes first. The “Going Once” Web site will also feature 19 fixed price packages under $3,000 and more than 150 travel deals. The first package up for bidding on April 17th is a six night trip to Florence which starts at $7,740. The promotion will end on April 27th.

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OTI & Hypercom Power Swiss Contactless EMV

The first EMV contactless transaction in Europe, according to Swiss technology standards and rules, took place March 29th, using OTIâ™s “Saturn 6000” and Hypercomâ™s “T2100.” The transaction took less than 0.5 seconds. The transaction was initiated by MasterCard Europe and the Swiss Bank Aduno Group, in collaboration with a McDonald’s restaurant, in Stadelhofen, Zurich. The market launch of contactless card payment technology in Switzerland is projected to commence this year, following pilots in Zurich, Lausanne and Lugano. The “Saturn 6000” supports “VISA Contactless,” AmEx’s “ExpressPay,” Discover’s “Zip” as well as programs for mass transit ticketing, MIFARE, loyalty, and third party applications. The “Optimum T2100” is a high-speed countertop terminal based on a 32-bit RISC processor with 12 megabytes of memory and dial communication.

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Pay By Touch Signs a Green Stamps Client

Pay By Touch and AR-based Harps Food Stores have introduced “Harps Rewards with S&H greenpoints”. Harps’ shoppers will earn 10 greenpoints for every dollar they spend at participating Harps Foods Markets and be able to redeem their greenpoints either in-store, through the print greenpoints catalog or online at http://www.greenpoints.com. Pay By Touch’s S&H greenpoints Reward Program is the digital reinvention of the Sperry & Hutchinson Company’s Green Stamps, the nation’s first loyalty marketing program (circa 1896). The S&H greenpoints program rewards millions of consumers with points for every dollar they spend at participating merchants. Pay By Touch provides biometric authentication, personalized marketing and payment solutions.

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16% CAGR for Procurement Card Revenues

A new report estimates that procurement card revenues will grow from $2.3 billion this year to $3.6 billion by 2010. The research says the growth will be driven as banks recognize the competitive differentiator these cards offer and begin to promote them beyond use as a controlled payment mechanism and into the realm of supply chain procurement. Boston-based Aite Group says its report recognizes that changes will have to be made to procurement cards’ supporting infrastructure in order for the model to be adopted by merchants, as interchange fees on large purchases may prove prohibitive and the introduction of card payments may be disruptive to the pre-arranged shipping and payment terms that exist between buyers and suppliers. Aite notes that P-card issuers need to adjust the pricing model to make it beneficial for suppliers as well as buyers and they need to effectively articulate those benefits.

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Ukash Expands to 20 Countries

Ukash is now available for an estimated 226 million
internet users in the UK, Ireland, Spain and Germany, Austria, Belgium,
Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Hungary, Italy,
Latvia, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Poland, Slovakia and Sweden who
don’t have or don’t wish to use credit or debit cards online. Users
access Ukash at their nearest bank branch by completing a paying-in
slip. They will then receive an email or SMS message with their unique
and secure 19-digit Ukash voucher number to be used online for payment.

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Lighthouse1 to Use Evolution Benefits Card

Lighthouse1 and Evolution Benefits have formed a partnership for healthcare benefits administration solutions. The Evolution Benefits solution combined with Lighthouse1 “OnDemand” allows members to have more than one account on a single card, essential for employers with multiple consumer driven healthcare options. Evolution Benefits’ primary product, the “Benny Prepaid Benefits Card”, applies advanced payment and patented auto-substantiation technologies to FSAs, HRAs and HSAs. Lighthouse1 provides Consumer Driven Healthcare (CDH) administration software solutions to resolve challenges in the administration of Section 125, 105, 132 and other pre-tax spending programs in the healthcare and employee benefits industry.

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SmartCard Market to Top $1.6B by 2011

Analysis from Frost & Sullivan indicate growth in the
contactless smartcard market. The market earned revenues of $408.9
million in 2005, and estimates this to reach $1,636.2 million in 2011.
Experts credit this growth largely in part to the e-passport segment
and intensified interoperability efforts. Use of the application is also
implemented in contactless micro-payments, mass transit applications, &
mobile payments. However,this growth has raised questions regarding
electronic security. Experts therefore are advocating the promotion of
awareness that contactless smart cards are implemented in a highly
secure method and can be relied on for secure transactions in payment.
Frost & Sullivan’s consulting company has been partnering with clients to
support development and innovation for more than 40 years.

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PPT Offers Free Mobilescape 5000 Terminals

Payment Processing Technologies has launched a program to supply agents with free “Mobilescape 5000” wireless, handheld terminals. There are more than 20 million mobile merchants in the U.S. that collect payments in the field. Often, credit card numbers are called in for processing, and checks are simply carried around until the technician returns to the office. The “Mobilescape 5000” enables these merchants to process the credit card or check right at the point of sale, reducing costs and making the transaction safer, faster and easier.

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Consumers Change Preferences

MasterCard’s “Consumer Lifestyles” survey has revealed shifts consumer in
consumer preference. For example, UAE consumers favor India (43%),
Egypt (19%), and Thailand (10%) as travel destinations. Previous findings
have shown that, destinations such as Switzerland, Australia, Lebanon and
Pakistan were favored over Thailand. Also, 79% of those surveyed said
they were going to do more recreational travel than last year and 84%
were planning to spend more. Safety and security is a concern for 74%
of UAE consumers, a decrease compared to 87% in the first half 2006.
The biggest concern for travelers , however, was the risk of loosing one’s
passport (47%). The use of debit cards as preferred method of payment
when traveling has also increased from 27% to 39% of those surveyed.

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PBS Inks Acceptance Agreement With CUP

As a means of extending its international network of countries and
merchants, China Unionpay has signed agreements with PBS. Because
of this development, 30,000 merchants in Denmark, Sweden, Iceland and
Norway under contract for international card acceptance with PBS will be
able to accept CUP. This is important considering the growing number of
tourists to the country, 1.3 million of which were European and is
projected that by the year 2020, China will have 100 million tourists.
Currently, CUP cards are accepted in European countries such as Germany,
The Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, France, Italy and Spain. CUP has a
total of 23 branches and 180 members, among which 24 are overseas
financial institutions. PBS has 900 employees and handles over 1.3
billion card transactions annually.

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AmEx Opens Travel Package Auction Next Week

Starting next week, U.K. American Express cardholders can bid online for nine declining-price travel packages, offered in varying quantities, ranging from 10 to 30. AmEx will auction off one travel package a day – and once a trip goes on sale, the price drops every twenty minutes. The deals will continue to drop in price until 7:00 pm ET or until the packages sell out, whichever comes first. The “Going Once” Web site will also feature 19 fixed price packages under $3,000 and more than 150 travel deals. The first package up for bidding on April 17th is a six night trip to Florence which starts at $7,740. The promotion will end on April 27th.

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Altair Set to Hit 1MM Prepaid MasterCards

Altair Financial Services International
Plc has accumulated orders for more than a quarter of a million Prepaid
Cards since it was certified as a MasterCard Service provider in
October 2006 and is on track to reach a million Prepaid Cards by May
2007. Altair provides branded Prepaid Card solutions to the retail and
corporate environment including features and applications that meet
clients’ requirements. Cards can be re-loadable or non-re-loadable,
personalized, available by mail-order cards or instant issue, issued for
ATM, Point of Sale and/or Internet transactions.

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