AmEx Sees T&E Expense Rising 17% This Year

A new survey shows that 42% of organizations surveyed expect their T&E expenses to increase in the coming year, with an average expected
increase of 17%. The first American Express China Business Travel Forum survey revealed that meals and entertainment remained the largest expense category, accounting for 39% of total T&E expenditure. The report found that the air travel expenditure breakdown is 65% economy, 25% business class, 10% first class. According to the surveyed companies, the finance, insurance, real estate and business services expenses are almost three times larger than wholesale, retail trade and distribution sectors. Additionally, AmEx found that 23% of organizations expected to be using interactive online booking tools within 12 months and that use of cash for payment of T&E expenses remains predominant.

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PPP and AmEx Settle their Clear Card Lawsuit

IL-based Perfect Plastic Printing and American Express have reached a settlement over a clear-card patent issue. As part of the settlement, PPP has assigned all of its domestic and international clear card-related patents to AmEx and has been granted a license under all of the AmEx and PPP patents, now American Express patents. PPP will continue to manufacture clear transaction cards that were the subject of the now settled litigation. AmEx issued the first clear, transparent card, “Blue from American Express,” in Australia on July 24, 2001 and then introduced the first transparent card product in the U.S in 2002 with “Blue.” American Express currently is using the technology for “Blue,” “Blue Cash from American Express” and several other card products. PPP filed its suit in the U. S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois, Chicago om January 2004. (CF Library 1/7/04)

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AUSSIE MASTERCARD

Aussie Group and ANZ, a mortgage specialist, has launched a MasterCard with a low on-going interest rate. The new “Aussie MasterCard” carries a $49 annual fee and an interest rate of 9.99%. Additionally, the balance transfer rate is 3.99% for the first six months. By comparison, the Aussie Group says most consumers are paying on average a 16% interest rate, with some paying as high as 27%. The new card does not offer any rewards which Aussie Group says is a “pointless reward scheme.” Since its establishment in February 1992, Aussie has grown to become Australia’s leading non-bank lender, with operations spanning all mainland capital cities and major regional centers.
Aussie now has a loan book currently worth more than $17 billion and over 200,000 existing customers. The new MasterCard will be available after April 15th.

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Wright Express to Launch a Sinclair Oil Card

Wright Express will develop and manage a joint fleet card program with Sinclair Oil and will support a Sinclair branded online product. Sinclair Oil is an independent oil company with distribution throughout the Plains and Mountain States. Wright Express Corporation provides payment processing and information management services to over 280,000 commercial and government fleets containing more than 3.9 million vehicles in the US.

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MBNA Expands Into Home Finance Loan Processing

MBNA has inked a deal to acquire MO-based Nexstar Financial Corporation. Nexstar’s platform for originating and processing home finance products will enable MBNA to offer private label and co-branded home equity loans through its more than 5,000 affinity partners. Under the agreement, MBNA will acquire all of Nexstar’s assets and the management team and all existing employees will join MBNA. The business will operate as a MBNA subsidiary and will retain the Nexstar name. MBNA is currently downsizing its credit card operations and is looking to diversify its lending operations. The Company also unleashed its first advertising campaign this year.

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Cubic Expands the TAP Smart Card Fare System

Cubic Transportation Systems will provide central computer and clearinghouse integration for the Universal Fare System, a smart card-based fare collection system to connect transportation systems across Los Angeles County. Cubic Transportation Systems, Inc. is a full-service systems integrator of automated fare collection systems and has delivered over 400 projects in 40 major markets worldwide.

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VISA Says PULSE Logo is Okay on its Cards

VISA has decided to permit its members to continue using the PULSE EFT debit network. The network was acquired by Discover earlier this year. MasterCard is still reviewing its policy in regard to the use of the PULSE logo on its cards. MasterCard said it will determine whether the new “Discover/PULSE” organization may continue as a principal debit licensee and as a sponsor of financial institutions into “Debit MasterCard,” “Maestro,” and “Cirrus” programs. MasterCard will also examine whether the new entity’s network logo may continue to reside on the “Debit MasterCard” card. In November, Discover agreed to acquire the PULSE for $311 million. The merger joins “PULSE” and its 4,100 member banks, credit unions and savings institutions with the “Discover Network” and its 4 million merchant and cash access locations. (CF Library 11/15/04; 1/13/05; 1/20/05)

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U.S. Bank Launches Affinity Softball VISA Cards

The Amateur Softball Association of America has partnered with U.S. Bank to create an affinity credit card program designed to support the ASA and the sport of softball. Supporters can access a variety of cards, which include a rewards program with points that can be redeemed for gift certificates, merchandise, cash, travel and college rewards. The Amateur Softball Association was founded in 1933. U.S. Bancorp is the 6th largest financial holding company in the United States with assets of $195 billion.

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SCA Releases Paper on Mobile Phone POS Payments

A new report from the Smart Card Alliance reveals that market forces and technical advances is driving increased interest in using mobile phones for payment at point-of-sale. The report details mobile payment implementations that have been deployed worldwide and the opportunities and challenges for implementing mobile payment in the U.S. The Smart Card Alliance is a not-for-profit, multi-industry association working to accelerate the acceptance of smart card technology.

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