EMV2000 Miniature Smart Card Reader is Unveiled

Cypress, CA-based ID TECH has introduced a miniature smart card reader that is about two inches wide and an inch deep. The new “MiniSmart” is also rated for more than 1 million card cycles. The device’s gold-plated contacts also meet the requirements of the “EMV2000” specification for contact force, ICC signal timing and reliability. It connects to a host terminal or computer via flex cable, and its TTL output can be configured to be compatible with any other reader. The “MiniSmart” chassis is molded from a glass and lubricant-filled engineering plastic that supports a landing-style smart card connector. An enclosed “card seated” switch provides confirmation of full chip-to-connector contact. An optional molded bezel can attach to the chassis to guide the card. The new device will ship in May.

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US Dataworks Expands Clearingworks Functionality

US Dataworks has introduced Distributive Capture, enabling users to digitally capture both the image and data of checks received remotely and retrieve electronically for clearing, eliminating the need to physically transport checks. US Dataworks provides payment processing solutions for the financial services market, federal, state and local governments, billers and retailers.

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Postbank Acquires Bulgarian Euroline Credit Card

Greece-based Postbank has acquired the credit card business of Bulgarian Retail Services, the issuer and acquirer of the Euroline credit card. The Euroline credit card was launched by BRS in January 2003. The Postbank acquisition was closed on March 26th, according to last week’s issue of CardFlash International. Euroline is the leader in the Bulgarian market with over 180,000 cards which are accepted at over 3,500 merchant locations all over the country. Postbank and BRS are both part of EFG Eurobank Ergasias (Greece).

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Carreker & ID Analytics to Fight Deposit Fraud

Dallas-based Carreker Corporation and ID Analytics have formed an alliance to improve detection of identity fraud at the point of application and deposit as well as during a change to a deposit account and will assist both companies better manage identity risk. Carreker Corporation provides integrated consulting and software solutions for the financial industry. ID Analytics’ real-time ID Network manages identity risk.

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MBNA’s Early Retirement is an Employee Smash

MBNA yesterday confirmed it would take a one-time $785 million pre-tax 1Q/05 charge, after more employees responded to a voluntary retirement program offer than anticipated. Approximately $500 million of the charge is related to the voluntary early retirement program and voluntary severance program announced in January. Approximately $115 million of the charge is related to the disposition of fixed assets resulting from MBNA’s previously announced review of its operations. In January, MBNA announced it would take a first quarter pre-tax charge of up to $350 million to cut its staffing by 3% through the voluntary early retirement program and a voluntary employee severance program. MBNA indicated it would consolidate some of its facilities in 2005. MBNA also yesterday announced the termination of a marketing agreement with a third party vendor that marketed the Corporation’s products to endorsing organizations. MBNA also terminated a limited number of other agreements. The total exit costs of these agreements for MBNA will be about $170 million. (CF Library 1/21/05)

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MC’s U.S. PIN Debit Grew 4X+ in 4Q/04

“Maestro,” MasterCard’s global PIN-based debit brand, now appears on nearly 563 million cards worldwide, an 8% increase over one year ago. Europe continued to be the largest cardholder base for “Maestro” with 258 million cards as of December 31st, a 7.6% increase over the same date in 2003. At the end of the fourth quarter, there were 148.1 million “Maestro” cards issued in Asia/Pacific, a slight decline from the third quarter. Latin America increased nearly 29% to almost 81.0 million, while the South Asia, Middle East and Africa region surged by 44% to 29.4 million cards. In the United States, PIN debit purchase transactions grew 456% for the fourth quarter compared to 4Q/03. As of December 31st, there were nearly 1.5 million merchant locations accepting MasterCard and Maestro, as well as 383,000 Cirrus ATMs.

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FDC to Use Austin Logistics’ EarlyDetection

Denver-based First Data will incorporate Austin Logistics’ new predictive analytic EarlyDetection System into its credit card processing system. EarlyDetection System is an analytic software solution that reliably predicts revenue, varying levels of activation and fraud/delinquency risk as early as the first day of account activity. First Data Corp. serves approximately 4.1 million merchant locations and 1,400 card issuers. Austin Logistics provides analytic software and solutions that predict customer value and behavior.

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Card Debt Growth Remains Sluggish in Feb

Revolving consumer credit hovered above the $800 billion milestone in February. However, Americans added $4.1 billion to revolving credit during the second month of the new year, compared to nearly $8 billion one-year ago. The change from last year validates the higher monthly payment rates reported by the nation’s top issuers. The monthly payment rate remains between 17.50% and 18.00%. According to the Federal Reserve, Americans owed $803.5 billion in revolving credit at the end of February, compared to $799.4 billion for January. One-year ago revolving credit stood at approximately $754.8 billion. The annual growth rate is now 6.1%, compared to 8.9% in the previous month. Bank credit card debt (excluding store and gas credit cards) at the end of the fourth quarter was $684.9 billion, or roughly 85% of total revolving credit, according to CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]). At the end of February, Americans were $2122.5 billion in debt, excluding home mortgages.

REVOLVING CREDIT HISTORICAL ($billions)
Feb 05 Jan 05 Dec 04 Nov 04 Sep 04 Jun 04 Mar 04
GRWTH: 6.1% 8.9 8.6 0.9 5.5 10.4 -1.9
$OWED: $803.5 799.4 793.6 790.4 784.0 765.2 768.9
Source: Federal Reserve; revised figures as of 4/07/05;
For complete historical data, visit CardData (www.carddata.com)

[1]: http://www.carddata.com

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United Airlines Offers 3X Miles for Cruises

United Airline customers can earn triple miles by using their Mileage Plus Visa cards to purchase a United Cruises vacation. Mileage Plus members have opportunities to earn miles with 31 different cruise lines and are able to redeem miles on any cruise vacation with redemption starting as low as 10,000 miles. United Mileage Plus has over 45 million enrolled members. United Airlines is the world’s second largest airline.

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Bank’s Payment Business is Under Fire in 05

A new report says that large U.S. banks must move quickly to protect their lucrative payments business amidst the acceleration from paper to electronic consumer payments. DiamondCluster International says the impact of technology on the bank payments business since the 1980s has shifted from the back-end of the payments value chain (creating economies of scale on the acquiring side of payments transactions), to the front end in the 1990s (applying advanced technology to improve issuing of payment instruments such as credit cards), to the middle link: the use of the payment instrument itself in the consumer’s purchasing process (including the store). DiamondCluster says one of the first steps a bank must take to compete in the payments future is to develop a decision-making process that crosses payments businesses. The silos in banks? payment businesses must also be reconfigured. Above all, DiamondCluster says banks need payments strategies that cross their payments businesses.

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Petco Settles Card Fraud Patent Litigation

Acacia Research Corporation announced that its subsidiary, Financial Systems Innovation LLC, has entered into a non-exclusive license and settled patent infringement litigation covering a patent that applies to credit card fraud protection technology with Petco Animal Supplies, Inc. The Acacia Technologies group develops, acquires, and licenses patented technologies.

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