FDC Renews Chicago’s Amalgamated Bank

Amalgamated Bank of Chicago, which has been a First Data client for nearly 20 years, has signed a renewal agreement for FDC to provide comprehensive card processing service and merchant processing First Data will continue to provide statement production and mailing and plastics personalization, for Amalgamated. In addition, the bank has renewed its merchant processing agreement with First Data.

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QI Systems & SmartCentric Target Vending

Dallas-based QI Systems and Ireland’s SmartCentric Technologies have signed a deal to combine SmartCentric’s “SmartCity” products for multi-application and payment solutions with a wide variety of QI System’s unattended devices including laundry equipment, vending machines, printers, copiers and parking equipment, using both contact and contactless cards. The partnership between QI Systems and SmartCentric will provide university and corporate campuses remote data collection and hot-listing of lost or stolen cards. These solutions include Off-Campus Merchant programs, parking and transportation and are part of the full suite of SmartCity solutions which includes Secure IT access, logical access, Web Revalue of cards, and Digital Certificates. QI Systems Inc. develops and markets contact and contactless chip-based card payment and tracking solutions.

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NBS Attacks Credit Card Practices

Nationwide Building Society is urging people to rebuff credit card providers who make an estimated GBP 500 million extra in profit
every year from the way they allocate payments. Almost all UK card
providers choose to allocate payments first to outstanding balances at
the lowest rate of interest (for example, 0% balance transfers), leaving
balances at higher interest rates, such as purchases and cash advances,
to continue to accrue interest. Nationwide says it is the only major credit card provider that applies payments to the most expensive debt first across all its credit cards, saving customers over GBP100 a year in interest. The people who suffer most from a negative order of payments tend to be the most vulnerable. Cash advances often have very high interest rates and most providers do not apply payments to these until after repaying balance transfers and purchases. All of the practices are widespread in the USA.

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TU Launches Express Portfolio Review

TransUnion has introduced a new service that helps credit unions and small to mid-sized banks measure the fluctuating level of risk within their portfolios. TransUnion “Express Portfolio Review” selects up to two of five credit risk scores that are built into the offering, including the new “VantageScore.” Customers can then run a query weekly, monthly, quarterly or on an ad-hoc basis to see how the aggregate portfolio scores are changing over time, as well as monitor individual accounts that may require action. “Express Portfolio Review” results are delivered exclusively through TransUnion’s Web environment, called “TransUnion Desktop,” within 48 hours.

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New AmEx Program Targets Restaurants

American Express last week announced a new program to provide restaurateurs with a one-stop location for merchants who accept its cards. The “Restaurant Partnership Program” offers special savings for the Elliot Leadership Institute, an organization dedicated to the development and advancement of executives in foodservice and hospitality; GuestMetrics” a customer insight and solutions technology company dedicated to improving business performance in the restaurant industry; and “Healthy Dining Finder,” a resource developed in collaboration with the National Restaurant Association for health-conscious diners. The “Restaurant Partnership Program” kit also includes such services as direct connectivity which enables merchants to avoid transaction fees charged by third-party processors; industry newsletters such as “Briefing” and “Market Brief;” complimentary point-of-purchase materials and check presenters as well as information to help merchants manage their American Express accounts online.

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PayGen & First Atlantic Commerce Team

Seattle-based PayGen International has inked a deal with Bermuda-based First Atlantic Commerce to provide additional multi-currency merchant accounts and eCommerce payment processing and pin based alternative payment solutions in Europe and the Latin American Caribbean Region. Under the terms of the alliance, PGI will now be able to provide additional multi-currency merchant accounts and sophisticated eCommerce payment processing and pin based alternative payment solutions in Europe and the Latin American Caribbean Region (LACR), in conjunction with FAC. PGI provides payment processing solutions providers in the developing world. About First Atlantic Commerce provide secure card-based payment solutions for e-businesses.

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2nd Half Spending to Slow Way Down

A new analysis predicts that consumers will reign in spending and is forecasting retail sales growth of 4% to 5% for the second half of 2006 compared to 9% for the same period in 2005. Archstone Consulting says rising interest rates, gas prices at an all time high, negative savings and a weakening housing market, will drive the pullback. The research firm also noted that the proliferation of gift cards as a holiday item will permanently change first quarter revenue expectations and retail strategies. According to Archstone’s research, the economy is at a crossroads similar to conditions in 1994-1995 and 1999-2000 when inflation was on the rise, the economy was softening and the Federal Reserve neared the end of a series of rate hikes. In both cases, retail sales fell from strong levels to more moderate rates of between 3-6%.

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Discover Intros a Competitive Biz Card

Discover Financial Services has launched its first general purpose business card for all small business owners. Among the card’s unique features are “PurchaseChecks” which enable cardholders to receive reward benefits, the same APR and payment grace period as card purchases and no special fees. The new “Discover Business Card” offers credit limits up $50,000 and free employee cards with real-time, customizable limits and monthly spend reporting. The new business card also provides a 5% “Cashback Bonus” on office supplies, 2% “Cashback Bonus” on gas and up to 1% “Cashback Bonus” on all other purchases. Additionally, other special bonuses can be earned through a network of more than 60 brand-name redemption partners. In March 2005, Discover announced its first business card partnership with GE Consumer Finance and SAM’S CLUB. The Discover Network has over 4 million merchant and cash access locations in the USA. (CF Library 3/15/06)

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NFC PILOT

The first contactless credit payment program using near field technology is set to pilot in Amsterdam this fall. JCB, CCV Holland, Gemplus, KPN, Nokia, PaySquare, Philips and ViVOtech have all teamed for the test using an NFC-enabled mobile phone. Selected cardholders will be supplied with a Nokia mobile phone equipped with Philips’ NFC chips, loaded with the JCB payment application. In the first stage of the pilot, JCB will be targeting approximately 100 cardholders located in Amsterdam and merchants in and around the city’s World Trade Center. NFC operates in the 13.56 MHz frequency range, over a distance of typically a few centimeters and combines the functions of a contactless reader, a contactless card and peer-to-peer functionality on a single chip.

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MAR DEBT

Growth in credit card debt was flat in March, after hitting a high of nearly A$35 billion in February. However, credit card volume rose more than 12%, compared to one-year ago, despite surcharges imposed on cardholders by merchants. During the past twelve months, credit card debt has increased 15%. For March, credit card balances increased slightly to A$34.7 billion. One-year ago credit card debt stood at A$30.3 billion. Gross dollar volume on credit card and charge cards in March was A$15.5 billion, compared to A$13.8 billion one-year ago. Card credit limits reached A$94.8 billion at the end of March, compared to A$83.8 billion for March 2005. There are currently 12.8 million credit card and charge card accounts in Australia, compared to 11.8 million one-year ago.

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