HSBC and GPN Form a Processing JV

HSBC has agreed to create a joint venture with Global Payments to provide payment processing services to merchants in the Asia-Pacific region. Under the terms of the agreement, GPN will pay HSBC $67.2 million in cash to acquire a 56% ownership interest in the joint venture. HSBC will control the remaining 44% and will contribute its existing Asia-Pacific merchant acquiring channel in ten countries and territories to the joint venture. HSBC’s merchant acquiring channel in the region provides services to more than 40,000 merchant outlets. In addition, the bank has agreed to a ten-year marketing alliance in which HSBC will refer new merchant customers to the joint venture for payment processing services. The agreement will cover merchants in Brunei, the Hong Kong SAR (Special Administrative Region), India, the Macau SAR, mainland China, Malaysia, Maldives, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Taiwan.

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Checkgateway to Promote TransFirst Services

Arizona-based Checkgateway, an ACH specialist, has signed an agreement for NE-based TransFirst to provide card processing services to its clients. TransFirst is a provider of transaction processing services and payment enabling technologies and processes approximately $20 billion in annual sales volume for more than 160,000 merchants and more than 760 financial institutions. Checkgateway has been an ACH service bureau since 1993 and is an affiliate member of the National Automated Clearing House Association (NACHA), an organization charged with making operational rules for the ACH network.

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Katrina Relief Gets More Industry Support

VeriFone has donated 500 counter top and wireless payment systems to assist merchants impacted by Hurricane Katrina. VeriFone is donating the systems through NOVA Information Systems to facilitate the FEMA debit card disbursements to impacted families. Wells Fargo announced it has increased its team member matching program for Hurricane Katrina disaster relief to $500,000, up from $250,000 announced last week. This will bring Wells’ total contribution for relief efforts up to $1.5 million. The Financial Services Sector Coordinating Council for Critical Infrastructure Protection and Homeland Security says it is working closely with the Department of the Treasury as well as with Federal and state financial regulators to both support implementation of solutions to the most immediate problems and create a plan of action to resolve long-term issues. State Farm Bank is waiving late fees and deferring payment with no interest on State Farm credit card accounts. Chicago’s Harris Bank announced it will waive the surcharge fee at its more than 500 Harris-branded ATM machines for Hurricane Katrina survivors who were issued a debit card by FEMA.

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Debit Cards Rule but Credit is King Online

A new report shows that debit cards now account for 65% of all plastic card use in the UK, however, credit cards account for 72% of all online transactions. The research shows that 22 million adults in the UK made purchases online last year, accounting for 262 million transactions totaling GBP 16 billion. The just released “The Way We Pay” report from APACS predicts that by 2014 card payment volumes for online transactions will rise to 1.2 billion with total spending of around GBP 60 billion in real terms. APACS notes that spending on plastic cards, at GBP 273 billion, outstripped cash spending (of GBP 272 billion) for the first
time ever in 2004. The number of payment cards in issue during 2004 reached a record 141 million.

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MC Expands PayPass; Launches a NFL Promo

MasterCard announced that two more NFL teams will now accept “MasterCard PayPass” cards. The network also announced a new sweepstakes for a “Priceless Game Day Experience.” The Washington Redskins Football Club and the New York Giants Football Club will accept MasterCards new contactless payment option. Earlier this year, the Seattle Seahawks and Baltimore Ravens launched similar implementations of “MasterCard PayPass” acceptance at their stadiums, and the Philadelphia Eagles incorporated “PayPass” at its stadium in 2004. MasterCard’s latest NFL promotion will give 30 lucky MasterCard card the ultimate tailgate party with an NFL legend for themselves and nine friends or family members. The experience will include a pre-game tailgate with all essentials provided; pre-game sideline passes; team-branded merchandise; and 10 tickets to the designated game. The sweepstakes runs until October 31st. MasterCard will rollout an integrated marketing campaign primarily focused on radio advertisements as well as localized events at partner NFL stadiums across the country.

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AmEx Sponsors NYT Small Business Summit

The New York Times is holding its first-ever “Small Business Summit” this month with “OPEN” from American Express as a presenting sponsor. The event will convene experts from a range of business disciplines who will provide owners and managers of small companies with insights and advice on the most important aspects of running a business, from marketing and technology to finance and human resources. The American Express Company is a diversified worldwide travel, financial and network services company founded in 1850. The New York Times Company is a leading media company with 2004 revenues of $3.3 billion.

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FEMA and Red Cross Offer STV Cards

The Federal Emergency Management Agency and the American Red Cross are using stored value cards to distribute assistance benefits to victims of the recent hurricane disaster. The “FEMA E-funds MasterCard” and the “American Red Cross Client Assistance MasterCard” are both issued by Chase. The amount of money being distributed through the FEMA expedited assistance program is $2,000 per household. The Red Cross is distributing between $850 and $1,600 via its card program to hurricane victims, depending on family size. However, the Red Cross can load as much as $5,000 on the card under terms of its program. The Red Cross card cannot be used at merchants such as liquor stores and has “NO ALCOHOL, TOBACCO OR WEAPONS” printed on the card. While the Red Cross card program has been available for about three years, the FEMA program is new. FEMA says it is testing the product at some shelters before expanding it to all victims of the disaster.

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PDS to Issue Carmen Electra Cards

Texas-based Payment Data Systems has signed an agreement for exclusive marketing and distribution rights of Carmen Electra-branded transaction cards. An estimated 70 to 100 million credit-challenged consumers such as students, low income earners and recent immigrants are turning to prepaid debit cards for online and offline transactions. Carmen Electra is a singer, actress, dancer and businesswoman. Payment Data Systems, Inc. is an integrated payments solution provider.

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Modell’s Platinum MasterCard Launches

Metris Companies/Direct Merchants Credit Card Bank and Modell’s Sporting Goods launched a cobranded MasterCard that awards one point for every dollar spent at Modell’s and one point for every $5 spent elsewhere, which are automatically redeemed at 400 points for a $20 Modell’s “Award Certificate”. Metris Companies Inc.is one of the largest bankcard issuers in the United States. Modell’s Sporting Goods is America’s largest and oldest family-owned and operated sporting goods, footwear and apparel retailer with 127 stores.

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MasterCard Opens More Card Face

MasterCard unveiled a new card design option that gives issuers 10.5% more card face to decorate. The network is moving the hologram to the back of the card and will integrate it with the mag stripe. MasterCard will use the “HoloMag” technology from American Bank Note Holographics. MasterCard says the new card layout is not intended to replace existing branding options. The current MasterCard design will continue to be available. The new flexible format card design is currently available for all MasterCard card programs. In March, VISA announced a change in its brand identity and card design. Like MasterCard, VISA relocated its dove hologram to the back of the card and is also using “HoloMag” technology. However, VISA is transitioning all its cards to the new format by 2010. Korea’s Woori Bank, Lotte Card and Korea Exchange Bank became the first in the world to issue the newly-branded VISA card on September 1st. (CF Library 3/15/05; 9/2/05)

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ADS/Epsilon Acquires Bigfoot Interactive

Alliance Data Systems’ Epsilon subsidiary has inked a deal to acquire NYC-based Bigfoot Interactive, a full-service provider of strategic ROI-focused email communications and marketing automation solutions, for $120 million. Bigfoot Interactive represents approximately 165 brands and divisions across its client base and has a strong presence in the financial services and retail sector. Bigfoot’s management will play a key role in Epsilon’s business as well as in the continued development and expansion of Alliance Data’s growing loyalty and marketing services. Alliance Data Systems is a leading provider of transaction services, credit services and marketing services, managing over 105 million consumer relationships.

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Relay Capital Issues Actor Payroll Cards

Talent management company Artist International Management and Relay Capital have agreed to develop and launch pay transfer cards. A pay transfer card serves as a virtual bank account, eliminating the need for printing, cutting and mailing paper payroll checks. Each pay period the card is loaded with the employee’s net pay. The employee can use the card at ATM and POS terminals and make PIN-based transactions. Artist International Management is an entertainment holdings company, producing theatrical motion pictures, television programming and recorded music for both traditional and new media formats. Relay Capital is a developer and marketer of a wide range of financial services including pre-paid stored value cards.

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