VISA and MC Agree on a Contactless Protocol

MasterCard and VISA confirmed they have forged an agreement to share a common communications protocol and associated testing requirements for RFID-based contactless payments at the POS. The protocol is based on the MasterCard’s “PayPass” “ISO/IEC 14443 Implementation Specification.” The use of a common protocol for conducting “MasterCard PayPass” and “VISA Contactless” RFID payments will enable vendors to streamline product development and testing, leading to reduced implementation costs and faster time to market for issuers. Merchants will also have the assurance that a single point of sale terminal may support multiple payment brands and will require less time for terminal programming and testing.

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UK’s HMV Passes 1MM Gift Card Milestone

HMV, the largest retailer of music, DVD and games in the U.K. has topped one million gift cards. The card was launched in October via TSYS and the Royal Bank of Scotland. The non-denominated, re-loadable cards are now available in HMV’s 200 stores throughout the UK, and can be activated in amounts ranging from GBP1 to GBP500. The parent company, HMV Group plc, also owns 189 Waterstone’s specialist book stores in the UK and Ireland, and plans to offer a Waterstone’s gift card in 2005.

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TowerGroup Beefs-Up its European Team

TowerGroup has expanded its global research and advisory team for Europe. Simon Levin has been hired as the general manager of EMEA. He joins TowerGroup following a 10 year career at Gartner, where he was a member of the EMEA senior leadership team and played an instrumental role in the growth and development of the research business in these regions. Theodore Iacobuzio (who has been an analyst and research leader at TowerGroup since 1997) will be head of European research. Ralph Silva will be a senior analyst based out of Paris. Emil Peterson joins TowerGroup as the new director of sales for EMEA. Sam Radwan (who joined TowerGroup in late 2004) will be head of global consulting.

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Marc Beauchamp Joins Acies Corporation

Acies Corporation has appointed Marc Beauchamp as Director of Business Development. Beauchamp has more than 17 years experience in sales, training and marketing and is a nationally known author, columnist and consultant to the merchant services and transaction processing industry. Acies, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Acies Corporation, specializes in payment processing services and online banking services.

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ACS Lands a $27MM Debit Card Deal with NJ

Affiliated Computer Services has been selected by the State of New Jersey to provide a child support payment and processing system. The contract is valued at $27 million, commencing in June 2005. In addition to processing over 4.5 million child support payments annually, ACS will be instituting a full-service debit card system. More than 120,000 custodial parents will be able to receive secure and quick child support payments. ACS is the country’s leading provider of child support services with payment processing/disbursement operations in 13 state disbursement units (SDU).

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Hypercom Introduces a New IP Gateway Device

Hypercom has unveiled a compact, high speed, low cost IP gateway device that converts virtually any manufacturer’s dial card payment terminal or dial ATM into a IP-enabled card device. The new “IN-tact 1201” is designed for small and multi-lane retailers who want the faster transaction speeds and lower communications costs inherent in Internet connectivity. The device uses “3DES” and “SSL” session security to encrypt and transmit transactions through the Internet with even greater security than through the existing phone line. The “IN-tact 1201” is also a fully transaction aware switching device that can intelligently route transactions to multiple hosts, including backup hosts, and can seamlessly integrate with the routing schemes of an existing NAC network, such as “HBNet.” Additionally, “IN-tact” continually monitors and alerts a help desk to any interruption in services.

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MC’s New Head of European Merchant Development

MasterCard Europe has named Brian Moore to the post of Head of Merchant Strategy and Partnerships. He will be responsible for building a deeper relationship with merchants across Europe. MasterCard is also looking for a pan-European retail expert, European Travel and Entertainment expert based in Waterloo, and regional country managers who will be tasked with managing day to day relationships with merchants in France, Benelux, Italy, Spain and Russia. The MasterCard team will also be responding to the desire among merchants for greater
provision of partnerships and promotional opportunities. MasterCard says it is determined to further exploit the success of the “Priceless” advertising campaign, by offering merchants a range of partnership opportunities utilizing the campaign’s consumer appeal.

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RFP for the MuniCard is Issued

Toronto-based Civic Strategies has issued a RFP to card issuers for its municipal credit card. The “MuniCard” is a card that enables property owners and commercial establishments in the City of Vaughan to accumulate cash points to be used to reduce payments on residential and commercial property taxes. The co-branded credit cards will be linked to the municipality’s property identification numbers and, when used, will automatically direct reward cash points to offset property taxes. Civic Strategies won the bid to develop the “MuniCard” on behalf of the City of Vaughan in November. The firm says response to the card has been overwhelming with more than 40 municipalities including Los Angeles County. The competitive bids are expected to be received by April 11.

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Hudson’s Bay Credit Card Portfolio Drops 21%

Toronto-based Hudson’s Bay Company reported that its credit card receivables declined for the second consecutive year. After peaking at C$559 million in 2002, HBC’s card portfolio has declined to C$427 million as of January 31st of this year, a 21% decline compared to one year ago. Revenue from HBC’s Financial Services division was C$317 million in 2004, compared with C$333 million in the prior year. For the fourth quarter, Financial Services revenue was C$78.0 million or 10.6% below the year ago quarter. The decrease in revenue reflected the reduction in store sales, the lower credit card blend at the Bay and Zellers and a higher level of customer payments. As of January 31st, there were 3.1 million active HBC customer accounts, including 1.7 million Bay cardholders and 1.4 million Zellers cardholders. Active accounts remained steady at 2.9 million. The average balance per active customer account was declined 4.9% to C$443 and the average volume per active customer account dropped 3.1% to C$844. For complete details on Hudson’s Bay performance, visit CardData (www.carddata.com).

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SCM’s e20 Card Reader Certified for OneSMART CAP

SCM Microsystems’ “e20” personal smart card reader for financial applications has been certified by MasterCard, successfully tested against the MasterCard “OneSMART Chip Authentication Program’s 2004 specifications. It is the first such device to achieve this milestone. The “e20” mobile reader is only slightly larger than a credit card. It is a battery-operated smart card reading device with a display and keypad for entering PIN codes and other numeric data. After a
cardholder enters his or her PIN, the device generates a one-time valid
password or “Transaction Authentication Number” that the cardholder uses for the authentication of online transactions such as ecommerce or ebanking. The “OneSMART MasterCard Chip Authentication Program” is a smart card-based authentication program that is a part of the MasterCard “SecureCode” solution. It can be used to increase security for Internet banking and other applications requiring strong cardholder authentication.

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