Walk-In Bill Payment Revenues to Double

A new study projects that walk-in bill payment revenues for processors will grow from $1.0 billion in 2005 to $1.9 billion in 2010. The research also found that the number of walk-in bill payments in the USA, including cell phone top-up, will top 1.3 billion by 2010. Boston-based Aite Group predicts strong growth for cell phone top-up at the POS and that walk-in locations’ share of total prepaid mobile top-up volumes will fall from 92% in 2005 down to 79% by 2010. Virtual top-up (when the reload is made directly from the handset using bankcards or ACH) will grow its market share as an alternative to the walk-in channel from 10% in 2006 to 21% by 2010. Aite says it expects further consolidation between mobile top-up processors and postpaid bill payment providers.

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ABS Settles Down After Bankruptcy Spike

Last fall’s spike in personal bankruptcy filings may have finally worked its way through U.S. credit card master trusts. Fitch Ratings affirmed 623 classes from 27 U.S. ABS credit card transactions based on the performance data for the most recent reporting period ended January 31st. The cumulative dollar amount affected by Fitch’s rating action is approximately $246 billion. The spike in personal bankruptcies followed the implementation of the new Federal statutes that took effect on Oct. 17, 2005.

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V12 Group Names a New Insert President

NY-based V12 Group, a provider of below-the-line marketing services, has hired Anthony Aquino, former Senior Manager of Instatement and Outbound Telemarketing at Citi Cards, as President of its insert media services group. Aquino will leverage his experience at Citi Cards to increase the market dominance of V12 Group’s insert media organization. Mr. Aquino worked in both the Citibank, NA Retail Bank running one of its 20 largest franchises in North America and held several positions in the Citi Cards organization. The V12 Group is a provider of below-the-line marketing initiatives, using our proprietary databases and multi-channel delivery model to provide measurable results for customer acquisition campaigns.

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JAN 06 DEBT

Credit card debt took its typical post-holiday downturn in January,
dropping A$700 million from the prior month, compared to an A$800
million drop one-year ago. During the past twelve months, credit card
debt has increased 14% while credit card volume rose 12%. For January,
credit card balances dropped to A$33.5 billion after reaching a record
high of A$34.3 billion in December. One-year ago credit card debt stood
at A$29.4 billion. Gross dollar volume on credit card and charge cards
in January was A$13.8 billion, compared to A$12.3 billion one-year ago.
Card credit limits reached A$92.6 billion at the end of January,
compared to A$82.4 billion for January 2005. There are currently 12.6
million credit card and charge card accounts in Australia, compared to
11.7 million one-year ago.

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Ingenico Revenues Up 4% for 2005

Ingenico reported 436.9 million euros in consolidated revenue for last year, up 3.7% from 2004. The company blamed delivery
problems for the lackluster growth. However, Ingencio also took a restructuring charge and a non-recurring litigation charge.
As part of a restructuring plan announced in September, Ingenico moved during the first quarter of 2006 to sell off several subsidiaries including Debitek to Heartland Payment Systems in February; Ingenico Sweden was sold to BBS in March; and ITS was sold to American Express in March. Ingenico is forecasting revenue growth of more than 15% in the first quarter. For complete details on Ingenico’s latest performance visit CardData (www.carddata.com).

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VeriFone Opens International Headquarters

VeriFone Holdings announced the official opening of
VeriFone Singapore Pte. Ltd, its international headquarters located at
RCL Centre. VeriFone’s international management team based here will
spearhead the organization’s global supply chain and serve as the focal
point for R&D functions, regional finance and administration, and sales
and marketing activities across Australasia, South East Asia and the
Indian Sub-Continent. The center employs the latest
technologies to contribute to an increase in supply chain efficiencies
and cost savings as well as in its speed and flexibility of response to
regional customer demands and market opportunities. The organization
will manage in excess of $200 million in annual procurement and outsourcing
services and will play a key role in VeriFone’s continuing international
expansion, with
responsibility for all operations in the Asia Pacific and Europe,
Middle-East, and Africa (EMEA) regions, including expanded operations in
Manila, a new development center in Bangalore, and recently opened
facilities in Poland.

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Speedpass Adds Instant Activation

ExxonMobil has introduced “Instant Activation” for its “Speedpass” contactless payment system. Consumers can now open and use their “Speedpass” account within two minutes via a hand-held computer. Through December 31st customers who enroll and activate a new account at an “Instant Activation” store event will earn a 5-cent per gallon rebate for a 90-day period from the date of activation (up to a maximum of $20 per account). In states where the rebate is prohibited by law customers will receive a $20 “ExxonMobil Cash Card.” Exxon launched the “Speedpass” program in 1997 and has issued more than six million fobs to-date in the USA. “Speedpass” is accepted at more than 8,800 Exxon and Mobil retail locations.

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National Data Protection Bill Passes

The U.S. House Financial Services Committee yesterday passed the “Financial Data Protection Act of 2005.” “H.R. 3997” was passed by a 48-16 vote. Consumer advocates passionately oppose the legislation since the bill preempts state laws and enables companies to decide how to handle the disclosure of breaches involving the compromise of sensitive data. The bill also does not regulate the activities of data aggregators. It will also limit consumers ability to put a security freeze on their credit reports. Meanwhile, bank industry advocates say the bill strikes the right balance between securing personal financial data and preserving an efficient marketplace. The ABA notes that banks already have a regulatory system to handle response and notification of security breaches and the bill passed yesterday will merely extend these type of standards to all businesses.

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VISA to Use UFJ NICOS Smartplus

Mitsubishi UFJ NICOS Co. has agreed to cooperate with VISA
International for the expansion of contactless payment using the
contactless IC credit payment scheme “Smartplus” developed by UFJ NICOS.
Low-value payments using contactless IC as a payment method are
getting popular particularly in public transportation. Furthermore,
users of “Osaifu-keitai”- mobile handsets with contactless IC embedded
with optional functions of electronic money payment or credit card
payment – are expanding as mobile phone operators market these models as
their main product. Multiple contactless payment (“Keitai credit”)
services are under operation to expand the credit usage in the cash
market. “Smartplus” can be provided on a plastic
card, and corresponds to all the “Osaifu Keitai” released from each
mobile phone operator. UFJ NICOS will start providing “Smartplus” which
corresponds to VISA contactless payment specifications by May 2006, and
DC by August, 2006. The number of “Smartplus” members is estimated to
expand to 2 million by 2008.

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Internet Gambling Bill Rises Again

The U.S. House Financial Services Committee this week again approved a bill that would ban payment card use for Internet gambling. Checks, wire transfers and EFT will also be prohibited for illegal Internet gambling transactions. The proposed law would essentially make Internet gambling illegal for all U.S. consumers within the U.S. However, some online betting for fantasy sports and horse races would be permitted. This is the third time the Committee has passed this legislation, first in October 2002 and again in June 2003. Both bills stalled in the Senate. The Committee estimated that Americans spend about $6 billion in offshore Internet gambling each year.

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AmEx Offers Incentives for Tax Payments

American Express is offering double rewards through April 17th for tax payments via its “Delta SkyMiles Card” and the “Starwood Preferred Guest Card”. Now through April 17, 2006, Delta SkyMiles Credit Cardmembers can earn double SkyMiles and can also earn one mile for every eligible dollar spent when paying their state income taxes on the Card. Starwood Preferred Guest Cardmembers can also earn double Starpoints on the first $5,000 of their 2005 personal federal income tax payments when paying with the Card and can earn one Starpoint for every eligible dollar spent when paying state income taxes. This year marks the first time the IRS has allowed businesses to pay their balance due on their federal business taxes (Form 940 and Form 941) using an American Express Card. This is in addition to paying the balance due on state and local business taxes.

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