BofA + MBNA Approved; Creates a Card Giant

Bank of America has received the green light for its $35 billion merger with MBNA from government regulators. The merger, which is expected to close January 1st, will create the largest U.S. credit card issuer based on card loans, the country’s largest debit card issuer and the world’s largest affinity card issuer. There were concerns by regulators that the combination would create a bank that controlled more than 10% of all U.S. deposits. However, after review by Federal Reserve, it was determined the figure was 9.7%. The new Bank of America Card Services organization will have more than 40 million active U.S. accounts and nearly $140 billion in managed balances. The new Bank of America Card Services unit will be led by Bruce Hammonds, who is currently chairman and CEO of MBNA. The merger already has the overwhelming approval of MBNA shareholders.

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SF Firm Wants to Buy Debit Settlement Claims

San Francisco-based Spectrum Settlement Recovery says it will make aggressive offers to purchase debit card settlement claims with face values ranging from $5,000 to $10 million. The Company says it has received the necessary funding to purchase merchant claims in the $3 billion “VISA Check/MasterMoney Antitrust” class-action settlement. The Company already works as an assistant with firms in filing claims but is now expanding the service to purchase and advance the refunds to merchants. Spectrum says it can fund the claims in seven days versus the years it may take to receive settlements directly from the fund. The first filing deadline for the settlement is December 28th.

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Retail Decisions Takes E Com Gift Cards Global

Retail Decisions has launched a range of pre-paid card services
including gift cards and electronic gift vouchers. ReD recently acquired
E Com Industries, a major electronic gift voucher and gift card operator. E Com’s clients included Coles Myer and Woolworths. The acquisition enables ReD to combine its existing knowledge and experience of delivering fraud prevention, payment processing and card issuing with the gift card capability acquired from E Com Industries to provide pre-paid gift card solutions to the UK, European and US markets.

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Equitable PCI and Cebuana Lhuillier Expand

MoneyGram International and Equitable PCI Bank have extended MoneyGram
service in the Philippines through the network of Cebuana Lhuillier
Service Corporation. Cebuana Lhuillier is a pawnshop network in the
Philippines and has started to offer MoneyGram’s money transfer service at
its 489 branches. Some branches open as early as 7:00
a.m., 7 days a week. MoneyGram is a global payment services company with 84,000 money transfer agent locations in 170 countries.

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99Bill Offers Payment Platform for Blog

99Bill Corporation has reached an agreement with Bokee to provide secure
and convenient online payment platform to serve millions of blog users.
99Bill is a third party online payment platform based on email address and
mobile phone number and can enable anyone or any business with a verified
email address or a mobile number to accept debit card, credit card,
prepaid card, even the offline payments such as postal and bank wires
payment and send and receive payments easily, securely and promptly
without exposing the recipient’s personal information such as bank
account, name and address. Bokee.com is the one of the largest and
fastest-growing online blog service providers in China. The company is
providing personalized web services such as photo, music, video, social
networking, wireless and blog publication. The total transaction volume of
Internet products and services, as well as wireless value added services
in China, reached USD2.8 billion in 2004.

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Diebold Addresses Supply Chain & Cash Issues

To address some of its supply chain problems, Diebold says it is combining its procurement, manufacturing engineering and manufacturing groups into a single organization. Newly named CEO Thomas Swidarski says this is the first step in creating an infrastructure with better communication and coordination. VP George Mayes has been named to lead the supply chain unit. Additionally, Diebold is forming a global order-to-cash improvement team. The Company says the objective is to shorten the amount of time between customer order and customer payment through reduced lead times, improved demand planning and forecasting and simplified product offerings and configurations. Diebold reported in October that its net income for the third quarter plunged 45% to $26.4 million. (CF Library 10/26/05)

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HSBC Mexico Wins 2005 Gartner CRM Excellence Award

SSA Global has announced that HSBC Mexico has won the “2005 Gartner CRM
Excellence Award” based on its comprehensive customer relationship
management strategy. HSBC Mexico currently utilizes SSA CRM to
deliver targeted marketing offers via e-mail and direct mail channels, and
to drive intelligent interactions in their call center, automatic teller
machine networks and bank branches with a 33% offer acceptance rate
and enables HSBC Mexico to send event-driven communications across
outbound and inbound touch points. A review team of Gartner analysts
selected the “CRM Excellence Award” finalists based on extensive
applications outlining the finalists’ CRM initiatives. SSA is a provider
of extended ERP solutions for manufacturing, distribution, retail,
services and public organizations worldwide.

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VISA International Invests in INSIDE Contactless

IDE Contactless has secured euro 9 million ($10.6 million) in a financing
round led by three new top tier investors: Sofinnova, Vertex Venture
Capital (Israel) and VISA International. Prior round investors GIMV,
Vertex Singapore and Siparex have also participated. These top names in
the venture capital world bring strong financial and strategic value to
INSIDE at a critical period in its growth. INSIDE intends to use these
funds for the expansion of its business in the key growth markets for
contactless payments and mobile NFC (near field communication) and
strengthen its management team. INSIDE Contactless is a provider of
semiconductor chips and hardware platforms.

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CARTE BLEUE GIFT CARD

Carte Bleue has launched a pilot for the first prepaid EMV gift card for the consumer market in France. Le Credit Lyonnais is the first bank to join the pilot and Axalto has been selected as the card supplier. Axalto is also the only provider of the related personalization services. Under the program, customers go to the bank branch to place their order and select from a wide range of designs and customization. The gift-wrapped and personalized cards are then sent with a greeting message to recipients on the date requested by the giver. The cards are valid for one year. The program was launched under a tight deadline to capture the holiday shopping season for 2005.

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Futuretrust MasterCard Signs Card Retailer

American Greetings’ Carlton Cards Retail subsidiary has joined the Mothers Work “Futuretrust MasterCard” program. Futuretrust is a MasterCard linked college savings program that enables families and friends to get an easy “headstart” on college savings. The Futuretrust program has no membership fee or caps to the amount of rebates a member can earn. Rebates are automatically contributed to tax-advantaged 529 college savings plan of the member’s choice. Members earn 1% every time they make a purchase with the Futuretrust MasterCard and earn additional college savings when they use the Futuretrust MasterCard at over 500 retail partners in the Futuretrust Preferred Merchant Network. Mothers Work is the world’s largest designer and retailer of maternity apparel. Carlton Cards Retail,a wholly owned subsidiary of American Greetings owns and operates approximately 500 specialty retail stores.

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