Six out of ten small businesses have expressed a high level of optimism about prospects for their business in the next three months, except for small-business owners in the Midwest. The finding comes from a recent survey for the National Federation of Independent Business and VISA USA. VISA says its payment card data shows retail spending in the Midwest continues to gain momentum, but still trails the national average. VISA data show strong consumer spending continues throughout the U.S. with 17.7% growth, while consumer spending in the Midwest grew 13.3%. Card spending in retail sectors shows a disparity with retail spending in the Midwest lagging behind the rest of the nation by 5%.Details
La Jolla, CA-based GreenZap has launched a new consumer-based, online payment service. Since accepting account pre-registrations on April 2nd, the firm has signed up 200,000 members. “GreenZap” is similar to eBay’s payment processor PayPal, but offers lower transactions fees. “GreenZap” also unveiled its interactive, community tracking system, the “ZapMap.” “ZapMap” enables users to dynamically view their friends and family that have opened accounts. In fact, “GreenZap” rewards account holders for telling their friends and family about the service. Account holders are rewarded anywhere from $5 to $30 and receive their earnings as a combination of cash and “WebCash.” GreenZap offers two types of accounts, a basic “GreenZap” account and an upgraded “Gold” account. The “Gold” account offers reduced transaction fees, increased rewards and a “GreenZap Stored Value MasterCard/VISA” for off-line spending.Details
A survey of 50 government officials from Japan, Korea, South Africa, Thailand, U.K., and the U.S. found that 68% believe that there is further opportunity for improving their procure-to-pay process. The VISA survey also found that 22% of government officials expect that improving process automation will be the most important benefit their organization will derive by implementing a commercial card program, followed by replacing cash (18%) and increasing procurement transparency (18%). Almost all government services agencies surveyed report that within the next five years they plan to implement a variety of new measures, including new technologies, such as enterprise resource planning systems, centralized processes and outsourcing to third parties. All of these measures support e-purchasing and expense management initiatives and translate to improved efficiency and cost savings. The survey was released in conjunction with the 7th annual “VISA International Government Services Conference.”Details
A survey shows that tourism recovery in selected tsunami-affected countries remains volatile, with international traveler confidence showing signs of weakening following the series of earthquakes and aftershocks on Nias Island, Indonesia in March.
The VISA visitor card spending in the three tourist destinations hardest hit by the tsunamis of December, Maldives, Phuket and Sri Lanka, after a period of steady positive recovery through February and March, has fallen since April and is still experiencing year-on-year decline.
During the week ended May 8th, international VISA cardholder spending
declined by 35% year on year in Maldives, and by three percent in
Sri Lanka. To support the recovery of tourism into Bali, VISA is
running a “Visit Bali 2005” program till October. In collaboration with 56 merchants in Bali, the VISA program promotes the best of the tourist destination to domestic and international cardholders, offering them special privileges and discounts with a “VISA Savings Passport.”
Illinois-based EFMARK Premium Armored, a single-source ATM hardware and services provider, has surpassed the 50,000 ATMs milestone. EFMARK has focused exclusively on ATM and provides turn-key operations offering a full range of ATM services, including cash replenishment and management, equipment sales and services, real-time online monitoring and reporting tools and overall ATM program management.Details
Credit card balances remained above the A$30 billion milestone in March, up 13% over year ago levels. However, gross dollar volume on credit cards slipped to an annual growth rate of just 4%, compared to 10% in the previous month, and 22% one-year ago. Credit card balances at the end of March were A$30.3 billion, compared to A$30.3 billion in February, and A$26.7 billion for March 2004. Gross dollar volume on credit card and charge cards in March of A$13.8 billion was A$900 million higher than the prior month, and up more than A$500 million from one-year ago. Based on data from the Reserve Bank of Australia, consumers charged A$12.9 billion in purchases on credit/charge cards during March compared to A$12.4 billion one-year ago. Card credit limits reached A$83.8 billion at the end of March, compared to A$73.8 billion for March 2004. There are currently 11.8 million credit card and charge card accounts in Australia, compared to 11.1 million one-year ago.Details
Fair Isaac has expanded its “ScoreNet” service to offer card issuers a choice of up to 202 credit attributes from the Experian consumer credit files to accompany Fair Isaac scores calculated at Experian. Fair Issac says the expanded service enables small lenders to check their customers’ payment status across all lenders every month, just as the largest credit card issuers do. In addition to standard credit attributes such as “worst public record” and “number of trade lines on file,” businesses tapping Experian credit files now can choose from a wide variety of additional attributes such as “time of most recent delinquency,” “aggregate monthly payment for open trades” and “highest utilization” of specific types of financial services products.Details
A new study has found that convergence, conversion and convenience are driving the growth of consumer preferences and electronic payments. First Data’s Market Intelligence Group says its study revealed that more than a quarter of all purchases made in U.S. retail stores use PIN-secured debit at the retail POS. FDC previously found that 47% of debit-card users prefer PIN-payment as a more secure method. The FDC study also found that some of the most popular payments developments are those that speed transactions and expand the electronic payment universe, such as increased acceptance for low-value purchases at quick service restaurants and elsewhere, contactless payments and the emergence of new generation multipurpose cards. The findings are in a new FDC white paper titled: “Electronic Payments in America: Today and Tomorrow.”Details
Fiserv has signed 23 de novo banks and thrifts to core processing agreements this year, bringing the total to 179 over the past five years. As Fiserv is a single vendor, this allows for compliance with recent regulations, including a provision of the Gramm Leach Bliley Act that requires financial institutions to regularly audit vendors for their ability to protect data. Fiserv, Inc. provides information management systems and services to the financial and health benefits industries and reported $3.4 billion in processing and services revenues for 2004.Details
Suncorp has signed a seven year technology outsourcing agreement with First Data. Suncorp will manage its portfolio of over 6,000 credit card merchants using First Data’s “OmniPay” merchant processing platform. Under the terms of the agreement, First Data will support merchant environments that require around the clock mission critical payments processing. The platform’s infrastructure not only meets Suncorp’s current processing requirements but it can also accommodate significant merchant business expansion. “OmniPay” was established in Dublin in early 2000. In July 2002, First Data became a major shareholder in “OmniPay.”Details
U.S. Bank has launched four affinity VISA cards for Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. Alumni will be able to choose from four different card designs and offerings through this U.S. Bank partnership, including one that earns reward points that can be redeemed for gift certificates, merchandise, cash and travel rewards. Rutgers has more than 50,000 students at 4 campuses. U.S. Bank is a subsidiary of U.S. Bancorp, the 6th largest financial holding company in the US with $198 billion in assets.Details