Survey Shows Britons Debt Uncomfortable

Personal credit confidence among Britons has dropped by three points in the third quarter. Also, the number of borrowers who are uncomfortable with their level of borrowing has risen by two percentage points over the third quarter to 15%. The latest “Personal Credit Index” from Experian’s “CreditExpert” online credit monitoring service found that 15% of British holiday makers admit to borrowing money to pay for their holidays this summer. A third of those who used a credit card to pay for their summer holiday say they don’t expect to repay the borrowed amount at their next statement. Some 14% estimate it will take them four to six months to pay off their holiday credit card bill. The research for Experian was conducted by Ipsos MORI.

Details

INSIDE Contactless Gets Pumped

After raising more than $10 million last year from a group of investors that included VISA International, Paris-based INSIDE Contactless has closed a new round of funding of $25 million. The new funding will accelerate the development of its payment and near field communication businesses as well as expand its presence in Asia and the U.S. The round of funding was led by Granite Global Ventures. The other new investor for this round was EuroUs Venture. Current investors who contributed to half of the total amount of this round led by Sofinnova Partners, now the largest shareholder, include Vertex Venture Capital, Vertex Management, GIMV, and Siparex Ventures.In 2005, INSIDE raised $10.6 million from Sofinnova, Vertex Venture Capital, GIMV, Siparex Ventures, and VISA International.

Details

SafePay Prepaid VISA is Introduced

NY-based SafePay Solutions has launched its own SafePay-branded “Prepaid VISA” card. SafePay members can use the Prepaid Visa(R) cards to shop at millions of locations worldwide! They can make purchases in stores, shops, online, by phone–anywhere the Visa(R) logo is accepted. SafePay Solutions has one of the highest levels of security, convenience, and speed of any online payment system.

Details

Rewards Network & eScrip Offer a Bonus

Chicago-based Rewards Network and eScrip are offering diners a “September Back to School Bonus” with the support of 8,400 participating Rewards Network restaurants nationwide. Since 1999, eScrip has generated over $150 million in merchant contributions to support youth education. The program, headquartered in San Mateo, California, provides funds to over 35,000 schools and organizations with the largest numbers of supported groups in California, Arizona, and Maryland. Electronic Scrip Incorporated (ESI) is a California-based corporation dedicated to establishing relationships between commerce and community–to provide resources to organizations and projects that support children. Rewards Network is a leading provider of marketing services and loyalty programs to the restaurant industry.

Details

The Big Five Networks Form PCI Council

The top five payment card networks in the world have agreed to sit at the table to improve payment account security throughout the transaction process. American Express, Discover, JCB, MasterCard and VISA have formed an independent council to manage the the “Payment Card Industry” data security standard. The group of five says it is developing a system that is more accessible and efficient for merchants, processors, POS vendors and financial institutions. PCI Security Standards Council, LLC will develop and maintain a global, industry-wide technical data security standard for the protection of accountholder account information; provide a list of globally available, qualified security solution providers via its Web site to help the industry achieve compliance; and provide a transparent forum in which all stakeholders can provide input into the ongoing development, enhancement and dissemination of data security standards. The new council is inviting all parties with a role to play in securing payment account data to participate in the new organization.

Details

MC Unveils the World Elite MasterCard

MasterCard has taken its “World MasterCard” to a new level with the introduction of the “World Elite MasterCard.” The first card is being issued by HSBC on behalf of Saks Fifth Avenue. The “Saks Fifth Avenue World Elite MasterCard” will debut next week with applications available at all Saks Fifth Avenue locations in mid-October. The new card offers up to 6% back on Saks Fifth Avenue purchases and 1% back on all other purchases. Customers’ points will be converted automatically into Saks gift cards. The card also offers access to the Virtuoso travel network; complimentary companion tickets with the purchase of full fare “Business Class” tickets for international travel; tailored shore excursions and private cocktail receptions on four cruise lines; preferred rates at more than 650 hotels plus value-added amenities such as complimentary daily breakfast for two, room upgrades, late check-in, late check-out, hotel dining credits and customized offerings that are unique to the destination and VIP status; complimentary subscriptions to travel publications; special event access and tickets to performing arts and theater events; and airport lounge access for a nominal fee.

Details

Gateway Pricing Continues to Fall

A new research report found that the eCommerce arena continues to enjoy healthy growth and dramatic maturation. The report from The Strawhecker Group also says that gateway pricing continues to fall as merchants themselves improve their IT expertise and natural competition culls the priciest from the pack. Strawhecker notes there are so many more payment tools available off-the-shelf these days that merchants find it much easier to build an in-house solution, thereby cutting out the middle-man gateway. This aggressive stance by the merchants has driven gateways to carve their per-transaction pricing to thinner margins, just as large acquirers and processors have seen their margins reduced to slivers by the commoditization of transaction processing.

Details

Card Mail May Top 8 Billion This Year

A Chicago-based research firm says that consumers received nearly 4.2 billion direct mail credit card solicitations in the first six months of this year, compared to 3.9 billion for the same period one-year ago. American Express led the first half with a 20% jump in direct mail activity, primarily due to new card products. However, the top 10 company that experienced the biggest direct mail distribution increase, comparing the first half of 2005 to the same period this year, was Juniper Bank, with a 76% difference. Mintel Comperemedia says Chase and Citibank have both shown decreased direct mail activity in the credit card sector by 7% and 8% respectively. Bank of America remained in the bottom half of the top 10 mailers, experiencing a 43% drop in its direct mail activity.

U.S. CARD SOLICITATIONS
(billions)
1998: 3.44
1999: 2.54
2000: 3.54
2001: 5.01
2002: 4.89
2003: 4.29
2004: 5.23
2005: 6.06
2006: 8.40
Source: CardWatch (www.cardwatch.com)

Details

Self-Service PR Campaign is Launched

KY-based Self-Service & Kiosk Association has launched a major public relations campaign with the help of Mazda, Subway, BMW, BEHR Paints and the City of New Orleans. The campaign, “The Best Service is Self-Service,” extols the virtues of self-service technology through testimonials: Mazda and BMW promote new car offerings using kiosks; Subway shortens the customer wait time and increases profits; BEHR Paints promotes a kiosk that allows customers to choose paint colors, and the City of New Orleans implements a self-service permit system to help in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The Self-Service & Kiosk Association (http://www.selfservice.org) is the only professional membership association serving the needs and promoting the interests of companies engaged in the electronic, self-service kiosk industry.

Details

Morgan Beaumont Names a New CEO

FL-based Morgan Beaumont has named Jerry Welch its new CEO, as current CEO, Clifford Wildes, wants to devote more time to his other businesses. Jerry R. Welch has been named the new CEO of Morgan Beaumont. Mr. Welch is the Chairman of the Board of Picture People Inc., a leading chain of 320 portrait studios. Since 1990, Mr. Welch has previously been the CEO of FAO Schwarz Inc., CEO of FAO, Inc., Chairman and CEO of Right Start, Chairman and CEO of Glacier Water Services Inc., and a Managing Director and Partner of Kayne Anderson Investment Management, Inc., a Los Angeles-based investment management firm.

Details

Equifax Raises its Earnings Projection

Equifax says it now expects earnings per share to exceed $2.00 for calendar year 2006, an increase from its previous EPS estimate of $1.90 to $1.99. Equifax reaffirmed its previous guidance with respect to estimated 2006 revenue growth of 7 to 10 percent, and cash provided by operating activities of $360 million to $365 million. As previously announced, Equifax is holding its Investor Conference today at the New York Stock Exchange beginning at 8:30 a.m., and available via live Webcast and later for replay at http://www.equifax.com. Equifax Inc. is a global leader in information technology that enables and secures global commerce with consumers and businesses.

Details

Pipeline Data Hires a New CFO

MA-based Pipeline Data has hired Curtis James, formerly with Fidelity National Information Services, as its new CFO. Prior to joining Fidelity National Information Services, Mr. James was senior vice president of finance and accounting for Lender’s Service, Inc., a $155 million processor of mortgage services. Pipeline Data Inc. provides value-added credit card transaction processing services for merchants in three key areas: wireless mobile payment, e-commerce solutions and retail merchant payment. Pipeline Data services more than 40,000 accounts.

Details