Citibank Enters Contactless Payments

Citibank has made its entry in the emerging contactless payment arena by introducing the “MasterCard PayPass” key chain fob for its debit card customers. As it launches the debit fob this fall, Citi will begin to pilot “PayPass” for its credit card customers. Following the initial launch in the New York market, Citibank plans to roll out 2.5 million “PayPass” debit devices nationwide. The new “Citibank MasterCard PayPass” will limit daily purchases to $150. The program will continue to offer “ThankYou Points” on all debit transactions. Earlier this month Cleveland-based KeyBank become the first bank in the USA to launch “MasterCard PayPass” debit cards. However, the KeyBank “PayPass” is not a fob like Citibank. (CF Library 8/4/05)

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RBA Extends Access Regime to VISA Debit

The Payments System Board has decided to impose an “Access Regime” on the VISA Debit System. The Board says this was done to ensure that Specialist Credit Card Institutions are eligible to join the VISA system to provide services to merchants accepting both VISA credit and debit cards. The regime will override VISA’s Australian rules which might otherwise have prevented some SCCIs from joining the VISA system. The “Access Regime,” which VISA supports, is largely the same as that imposed on the VISA credit card system in February 2004.

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Absa Extends its BASE24 License

Absa has renewed its license for ACI Worldwide’s “BASE24” software to run its entire ATM and POS networks. The license runs for five years and marks a ten year business partnership with ACI. The bank has also signed a new five year “BASE24” extension with plans to migrate to “BASE24-es,” ACI’s next generation platform for payments processing.
Absa’s network has grown from 1,600 ATMs in 1996 to over 5,233 ATMs today. Since then, ATM traffic has more than doubled and now stands at a peak rate of 37 million transactions per month. POS volumes have grown from less than half a million transactions per month in 1996 to around 11.7 million per month today. Barclays recently acquired a majority stake in Absa.

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Equifax Hires a GE Executive as CEO

Equifax has named Richard Smith, former senior executive at GE, as CEO and Chairman-elect, succeeding Thomas Chapman, who is retiring at the end of the year. Mr. Smith, 45, joins the company after 22 years with General Electric Co. Most recently, he was Chief Operating Officer of GE Insurance Solutions, GE’s global insurance group with $10 billion in revenue and $50 billion in assets in 2004. Mr. Smith led all business units for GE Insurance Solutions, including property and casualty reinsurance, commercial lines insurance, and life and health reinsurance. Equifax provides credit analysis to businesses and assists consumers with effective credit management.

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VISA to Open a Karachi Office Next Year

VISA has expanded its business operations in Pakistan with the
commitment to open an office in Karachi early next year. VISA has
already launched several initiatives with local members over the past six
months. Over the last 12 months, annual retail sales volume in Pakistan
was a record US$430 million, an increase of more than 60%. Today, there
are more than 845,000 VISA cards in circulation in the country – an
annual growth rate of more than 100%. There are currently 238 million
VISA-branded cards in the Asia-Pacific region.

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Chase and United Incent School Purchases

Chase and United Airlines this week announced that its “United Mileage Plus VISA” will award two miles for every dollar spent that exceeds $1,000 and is paid directly to schools through the end of this year. This includes tuition for colleges and universities, as well as public and private elementary and secondary schools, school bookstore purchases, season football tickets, school donations and more. The “United Mileage Plus VISA” is also offering extra bonus miles though September 30th for back-to-school purchases from Office Max, Banana Republic/Gap/Old Navy, IKEA and Borders. The bonus miles are part of the programs’s “More Miles” feature.

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GE Consumer Finance Buys a Stake on Garanti

GE Consumer Finance is taking a 25.5% stake in Turkey’s Garanti Bank for about US$1.5 billion. GECF is buying the shares from Dogus Holding which held 51% of the stock. Garanti currently serves five million customers through a network of 419 branches nationwide. During the second quarter, GECF formed an alliance with Caja de Ahorros del Mediterraneo in Spain and acquired a significant stake in BAC International Bank, a privately held retail bank and credit card issuer with 178 branches in six Central American countries. One-year ago GECF acquired Moscow-based DeltaBank, a VISA issuer with more than 103,000 credit cards in-force. During the second quarter, GECF posted a profit of $735 million, a 23% gain over the year- ago quarter.

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GECF Takes a Stake in Turkey’s Garanti

GE Consumer Finance is taking a 25.5% stake in Turkey’s Garanti Bank for about $1.5 billion. GECF is buying the shares from Dogus Holding which held 51% of the stock. During the second quarter, GECF formed an alliance with Caja de Ahorros del Mediterraneo in Spain and acquired a significant stake in BAC International Bank, a privately held retail bank and credit card issuer with 178 branches in six Central American countries. One-year ago GECF acquired Moscow-based DeltaBank, a VISA issuer with more than 103,000 credit cards in-force. During the second quarter, GECF posted a profit of $735 million, a 23% gain over the year- ago quarter. (CF Library 8/12/04; 7/15/05)

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Visa Cal Deploys Magic’s iBOLT Platform

Visa Cal has completed the implementation of Magic Software’s “iBOLT” business integration platform. Using “iBOLT,” Cal has implemented the infrastructure that links applications in heterogeneous environments, deploying their “Service Oriented Architecture” throughout the organization. Magic Software Enterprises develops, markets and supports software development, deployment and integration technology that enables enterprises to accelerate the process of building and deploying applications that can be rapidly customized and integrated with existing systems. Visa Cal is one of the leading Israeli VISA credit card operators.

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Lowe’s Launches an Affinity Loyalty Card

North Carolina -based Lowe’s Companies has launched an affinity card with Habitat for Humanity International. Launching in Texas, Oklahoma and Western Louisiana, the program will involve 135 Lowe’s stores and 120 Habitat affiliates. Lowe’s customers sign up for the affinity card at no cost, select which local Habitat for Humanity affiliate to credit. Habitat for Humanity International is dedicated to eliminate poverty housing and has built more than 200,000 houses in nearly 100 countries. Lowe’s is a home improvement retailer with sales of $36.5 billion and has more than 1,125 stores in 49 states.

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Prepaid MasterCards for the CFLPA Launched

Plastic Now, Mint, and Peoples Trust have teamed to introduce the first co-branded, prepaid MasterCard to feature professional athletes in Canada. In association with the Canadian Football League Players’ Association, the companies will jointly launch eight prepaid MasterCard cards in their “Signature Series” featuring the image and autograph of a star quarterback. The CFLPA card also enables cardholders to accumulate points for every net retail dollar they spend. Points can be redeemed toward authentic autographed jerseys, helmets and official CFLA Pro Players footballs, and experiences with favorite players and contests.

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