FreeStar Technology Forms an Advisory Board

Helsinki-based FreeStar Technology has named the first two members of its advisory board. The first two are Donna Curry and Anders Hedin. Donna Curry has spent 20 years at Merrill Lynch as a First Vice
President in the Global Private Client Group. Anders Hedin founded Hedin Cars which is one of the largest car dealerships in Sweden with 15 different sales centers. FreeStar Technology currently processes in excess of 1,000,000 card payments per month for an established client base that comprises companies such as Finnair, Ikea, and Stockman.

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Chase Tops 500 ATMs in the Big Apple

Chase has topped 500 free ATMs in the five New York City boroughs. Yesterday, the bank announced that there will now be a Chase ATM at every Duane Reade drugstore. Duane Reade has 216 drugstores in New York City and 30 stores in Long Island, Westchester and New Jersey. As a result, Chase will now have 515 locations in New York City. In the Tri-state area Chase’s network has about 1,600 ATMs. Nationwide, Chase customers can use 6,600 ATMs in 18 states to withdraw cash, transfer funds and check account balances without usage fees. Chase also announced a “Summer Getaway Sweepstakes” for its ATM users.

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47% of RBC Cardholders Redeem Points for US Travel

A new poll from RBC Financial Group shows 47% of its “Avion”
cardholders or “RBC Reward” members redeem their points for travel to the USA while 33% redeem for travel within Canada and 20% use rewards to travel internationally. When asked what their most unusual credit card purchase was while on holiday, Canadians show a quirky side with some particularly peculiar purchases. These include: three Australian didgeridoos; an obsidian carving, a coconut handbag, a stuffed Yoda doll, haggis, lederhosen and the rental of a Harley Davidson motorcycle by an 81 year old man from Manitoba. Of additional note, some respondents said they used their credit cards for medication, doctor visits, prescription sunglasses, casts and trips to the emergency room.

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eBay/PayPal Community Codebase Introduce

eBay has introduced “eBay Community Codebase,” a new online forum for open source developer collaboration, which enables developers to access source code for various eBay and PayPal tools and sample applications and collaborate on new projects and innovations. To encourage the creation and distribution of open source applications, eBay introduced a new pricing structure for Developers Program members and has waived all certification fees for Individual tier members. eBay is The World’s Online Marketplace. PayPal, an eBay company, enables any individual or business with an email address to securely, easily and quickly send and receive payments online with nearly 72 million member accounts worldwide.

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Points.com and Hbc Rewards Establish Reciprocity

Hudson’s Bay Company has inked a deal with Points International to provide “Hbc Rewards” members with the opportunity to swap their rewards with dozens of other reward and gift certificate programs on Points.com. At Points.com consumers can swap miles and points between reward programs so that they can “Get More Rewards, Faster.” Points.com has attracted over 25 of the world’s leading reward programs including Delta “SkyMiles,” eBay “Anything Points,” American Airlines “AAdvantage” program, S&H “greenpoints,” Cendant “TripRewards,” Starbucks, Asia Miles, and Intercontinental Hotels Group’s “Priority Club Rewards.” Hbc operates one of the country’s largest loyalty programs.

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MEI Sues Japan Cash Machine Over Patents

Mars-owned MEI has filed a federal lawsuit against Japan Cash Machine over alleged patent infringement of its bill acceptor and other currency validation products. MEI systems process 1 billion transactions per week in 90 countries. MEI has the largest worldwide installed base of unattended payment mechanism in the vending, soft drink, gaming, amusement, transportation, retail and kiosk markets.

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ABS MPR SINKS

While charge-offs and delinquencies rose in the first quarter among UK credit card-backed securities, the monthly payment rate continued to deteriorate. The drop in Q1 MPR was driven in part by the reduced
availability of free balance transfer offers. According to Fitch
Rating’s “UK Credit Card Index,” the MPR, on a three-month average basis
was 16.5% in 1Q/05, compared with 16.7% in the previous quarter and
compared to 17.3% one-year ago. Fitch says that looking back, the “MPR
Index” has shown some peaks over 2004, driven by market growth, with
competition for customers leading to easy and frequent availability of
balance transfer offers. It appears as the product offerings settle
down, that the “MPR Index” is returning to the levels of early 2003.
Meanwhile, a combination of staffing issues, system problems and changes
in policy has contributed to the unprecedented rise in charge-off and
delinquency rates across UK ABS in the first quarter. The charge-off
index ended the quarter at 4.7%, up from 3.9% in December. Owing to the
same issues that caused the increase in charge-offs, delinquencies also
increased to 3.0% from 2.5% in the first quarter. Q1 yield increased on
a three-month average basis to 18.7% from 18.5% in the last quarter.
Fitch says the increase is most likely owing to a combination of higher
revenue from penalty fees on delinquent accounts and portfolios maturing
so that more accounts come out of their low interest teaser periods.

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Catuity CALS Lands its First Major Deployment

Dayton, OH-based CertifiChecks will be the first to deploy the new Catuity “Advanced Loyalty System” as a turnkey, hosted solution that will be sold to the merchants and chain stores who now use CertifiChecks’ paper-based solutions. The system is expected to be deployed in October and will be offered to CertifiChecks’ 70,000 merchants nationwide. The company also provides gift certificate programs to a top 10 grocery store chain, the U.S. military’s Defense Commissary Agency and Army and Air Force Exchange Service. The Catuity “CALS” is a modularized hosted system that enables unique customer profiles as well as the delivery of points-based, discount and frequency programs, plus offering a flexible gift card solution.

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Phantom Fiber Integrates with FirePay

Dublin-based FireOne Group and Canadian-based Phantom Fiber have partnered to integrate FireOne’s stored value wallet, “FirePay,” with Phantom Fiber’s wireless platform. The first phase of the agreement will allow customers to download the mobile wallet application to their cellular device and fund their “FirePay” account virtually anywhere, anytime and still enjoy their mobile gaming with applications powered by Phantom Fiber. The ability to access account balance information and historical transactions will also be included. The companies expect that
deployment will be completed within the next month.

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OTP Bank Expands its BASE24 License

OTP Bank has extended its “BASE24” software license to increase transaction capacity for payment processing. The new license, which includes “BASE24-atm” and “BASE24-pos” modules, includes a second-site license for DSK Bank in Bulgaria, a recent acquisition of the OTP Group. As part of the agreement, DSK Bank will also implement ACI “Card Management System” software for the issuing and acquiring of bank cards.
DSK Bank was recently named “Bank of the Year” for Bulgaria in 2004 by
Financial Times Group’s international banking magazine The Banker.
More than 500 customers in 78 countries use ACI supplied software. OTP Bank is Hungary’s largest bank.

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Cross Country Settles with West Virginia

One week before a West Virginia trial over its credit card and collection practices, Cross Country Bank and Applied Card Systems agreed to settle with the State’s Attorney General. The $1.5 million settlement will be used to fund consumer credit education and conflict resolution programs. While both firms did not acknowledge that any of the lawsuit’s claims were valid, the settlement prohibits Cross Country and Applied from debiting customers’ bank accounts without their authorization or to engage in aggressive collection tactics. The West Virginia lawsuit was filed in March 2004 and charged that Cross Country engaged in deceptive marketing of credit cards, offering low credit limits and charging exorbitant hidden fees to consumers who already had bad credit. The suit contends that Applied Card Systems used a wide range of abusive collection practices to coerce consumers into making payments if they contested the fees or defaulted on the account. The lawsuit alleged that Applied called consumers during the night, used obscene language and threatened cardholders with arrest to collect on a credit card account. Six other lawsuits are pending with the state Attorneys General of Pennsylvania, New York, Texas, Minnesota, Wisconsin and New Hampshire. (CF Library 6/4/04; 6/25/04)

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