Duane Reade Implements Ingenico Contactless

Ingenico says it will install the “eN-Touch 1000” with contactless reading technology from On Track Innovations at all Duane Reade locations by the end of this year. Consumers tap their contactless payment card on the eN-Touch 1000 terminal with integrated OTI contactless reader to quickly make purchases at Duane Reade pharmacies. The OTI reader securely transmits card information via radio frequency, eliminating the time it takes to swipe a magnetic stripe card. Ingenico is a provider of electronic payment terminals.

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M-CARE Opts for the Benny Debit MasterCard

The University of Michigan’s “M-CARE” health plan is teaming with Evolution Benefits to offer the “Benny Debit MasterCard” to its HSA plan members. M-CARE members can use the Benny benefits debit card to pay for qualified medical expenditures, such as doctor and prescription co-payments, health plan deductibles, eyeglasses, dental services, and over-the-counter medications. Payment is deducted directly from the participant’s HSA. Participants can get online account balances and history 24 hours per day, seven days per week. Evolution Benefits administers more than 80 managed care and administrative services organizations and covers more than 1,800 employers. M-CARE has more than 220,000 members and contracts with 1,500 employer groups.

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Valutec Acquires STV Solutions Specialist

Tennessee-based Valutec Card Solutions has acquired Oregon-based Mellennia, a provider of off-the-shelf and customized stored value solutions to merchants in the retail, financial, healthcare and government markets. Valutec Card Solutions is a provider of turnkey gift and loyalty card services to small and mid-market general and specialty retail, restaurant, spa/beauty salon and hospitality merchants and processes gift card payments for more than 20,000 merchant locations.

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AmEx OPEN Savings Adds Seven New Partners

American Express added seven new partners to its “OPEN from American Express” business card savings program. The new merchants include Courtyard by Marriott, FedEx Kinko’s Office and Print Centers, Fairfield Inn by Marriott, Hyatt Hotels, Ruby Tuesday Restaurants, SpringHill Suites by Marriott and Wingate Inn. The existing partners include FedEx, Hertz and AT&T. Under the “OPEN Savings” program business cardholders receive automatic savings on each partner transaction, regardless of marketplace offers or volume discount pricing. AmEx says it has saved business cardholders more than $75 million in the past eighteen months.

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MC Introduces Turnkey Travel Card and MCCS

MasterCard announced a turnkey prepaid travel card program and a proprietary card design system for cardholders. MasterCard teamed with Travelex and MetaBank to enable MasterCard banks to offer prepaid, re-loadable MasterCard-branded cards. Under the program, participating financial institutions will act as agents rather than direct issuers. MetaBank will serve as the issuer for the program. The cards are loaded in U.S. Dollars and remaining balances at the end of a trip can either be left on the card for future use, or refunded to the cardholder. MasterCard also introduced “MasterCard Card Customization Services,” that allows issuers to offer consumer and small business cardholders the ability to create their own unique credit, debit or prepaid cards. The service will allow cardholders to upload a personal image, customize the look of the card using simple editing tools, and submit a final design for approval. MasterCard says it found that almost 70% of consumers and 85% of small business owners expressed interest in obtaining a customized card and that most would use the custom card over other cards.

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Cardiff Acquires a College Tuition Card

California-based Cardiff International has closed a deal to acquire Colorado-based Legacy Card Co., the developer of the “Commitment 529 Tuition MasterCard,” in an all stock deal. The Commitment 529 Tuition Card is a tax-free educational savings reward credit card that concentrates consumer loyalty and buying on national retailers in the Legacy merchant coalition. Merchants will contribute from 1% to 10% on card spend to the cardholder’s child’s “529” tax-free educational fund account. The retailer contribution will be supplemented by a 0.5% to 1.0% contribution from the card issuer.

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SunTrust Intros Two New Usher VISA Cards

Atlanta-based SunTrust Banks has introduced two new gift cards in association with Grammy-award winning artist Usher, including the “In the Mix” and “Truth Tour” VISA gift cards. A portion of the card’s proceeds will benefit Usher’s New Look Foundation, a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization aimed at giving aspiring yet disadvantaged youth a new outlook on life through education and real world experiences. As of September 30, 2005, SunTrust had total assets of $172.4 billion and total deposits of $113.7 billion.

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SmartPay Launches Shanghai Utility Bill Pay Services

Smartpay and Fufeitong Shanghai have jointly launched a mobile utility
bill payment service that covers 15 utility companies in the Shanghai
municipal region. Mobile phone or PHS users in Shanghai can register
for the service via participating bank hotlines or directly with
SmartPay. Once registered, users can pay any utility bill as soon as
it’s received by sending the bill code by
SMS to SmartPay and can elect to receive monthly SMS alerts
when bills are due, which can then be paid by replying to the alert.
Payment is made by real time debit from the user’s bank account
to the utility. Bank Partners for the service include ICBC,
Agricultural Bank of China, Bank of China, Construction Bank of China,
Bank of Communications, China Post Savings Bank, Pudong Development
Bank, China Merchant’s Bank, Shenzhen Development Bank, Guangdong
Development Bank, China Everbright Bank, Citic Industrial Bank, Huaxia
Bank, Minsheng Bank and Bank of Shanghai.

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BITS CEO Chairs the NFCC Advisory Council

The National Foundation for Credit Counseling has named Catherine Allen, CEO of BITS, as Chair of the NFCC Advisory Council. Allen currently serves as Chief Executive Officer of BITS, a nonprofit, CEO-driven consortium comprised of the 100 largest financial institutions in the United States. Before joining BITS, Allen was vice president for business development and alliances for the corporate technology officer at Citicorp. She also represented Citibank as the founding chair of the Smart Card Forum. The NFCC, founded in 1951, is the nation’s largest and longest serving national nonprofit credit counseling organization.

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57% of Americans to Buy Holiday Gift Cards

American Express has released a new survey that shows 57% of Americans plan to purchase gift cards this year, spending on average $339. Gift card purchasers say that they expect to visit fewer stores (62%), purchase less actual merchandise as gifts (60%), and shop more online (28%). In addition, they plan to finish shopping faster and with less stress (74%). Recipients shopping with their gift cards will shift retail spending later in the cycle, extending the peak shopping season past traditional year-end holidays and providing incremental sales opportunities to retailers.

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