AmEx Awards Bonus Points for QSR Purchases

American Express has launched a promotion rewarding cardholders with five “Membership Rewards” for every dollar charged at a fast food restaurant. The promotion runs through April 30th, according to CardTrak ([www.cardtrak.com][1]). American Express cardholders can earn up to 500 bonus points from fast food purchases during the promotion. The minimum purchase required is $5.00. For the the full year of 2004, credit card sales for fast food on all general purpose credit cards and debit cards was about $22.5 billion, with an average transaction of $12. Americans spend about $140 billion per year in quick service restaurants.

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

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Second AmEx/NYT Travel Show Sets a Record

The New York Times Travel Show, presented by American Express, announced that a record 26,000 visitors attended its second annual show. Consumers were able to research, plan and book vacations to all parts of the world. The New York Times Company, a leading media company with 2004 revenues of $3.3 billion, is ranked No. 1 in the publishing industry on Fortune’s 2005 list of America’s Most Admired Companies.

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HSBC Renews the Domain Home Fashions Card Deal

HSBC-North America’s retail services business has renewed its relationship with Domain Home Fashions to manage the company’s private label credit card program. Domain is an upscale retailer of unique and high quality home furnishings and winner of numerous industry and customer awards, including Outstanding National Furniture Store Chain. HSBC Retail Services is a leading issuer of private label (merchant branded) credit cards in the US. HSBC-North America serves more than 60 million customers.

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MasterCard Attacks Illegal Online Tobacco Sales

MasterCard yesterday issued a “Global Operations Bulletin” regarding illegal tobacco sales conducted over the Internet via payment cards. The transactions may circumvent state-mandated tobacco taxes and other tariffs. MasterCard said that financial institutions can continue to provide MasterCard acceptance for Internet tobacco sales if they have documented evidence to substantiate that the merchant is in compliance with all applicable federal, state, and local laws to the satisfaction of ATF and any applicable State Attorney General. MasterCard also says it has been working closely with law enforcement officials to address situations where the legality of activities related to payment card transactions is in question.

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Vital Certifies ACH Direct’s Payments Gateway

ACH Direct has finalized certification of its Payments Gateway platform with Vital Processing Services. ACH Direct’s Payments Gateway has been certified with Vital for processing Retail, Direct Marketing, E-Commerce, Purchase Card and Recurring transaction types. ACH Direct is one of the largest privately held electronic funds transfer processors in the US with over $3 billion transactions processed in 2004. Vital Processing Services is a leader in technology-based, commerce-enabling services.

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Transaction Systems Architects Lands a new CEO

Transaction Systems Architects,Inc., announced that Philip G. Heasley, a 31-year veteran of payment systems and financial services, has been named President and CEO. Previously, Mr. Heasley was Chairman and CEO of Bank One’s First USA credit card unit. Transaction Systems Architects, Inc., is a leading global provider of enterprise e-payments software used on more than 1,740 product systems.

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UBL & WELCOME

United Bank Limited has launched the first VISA smart credit card in South Asia. The new “UBL VISA” offers instant “Chip Rewards,” “RoadMiles,” and “Talk-Time.” The new card is powered by Welcome Real-time’s “XLS” software. UBL’s acquiring partner, RFM Loyalty, uses “XLS Server” to manage a network of payment terminals, which are equipped with a payment application developed using “XLS POS” software libraries. The “RoadMiles” feature offers free petrol every month based on spending. “Talk-Time” offers free phone minutes based on total spending, in addition to a free connection. UBL has more than 1,000 branches in Pakistan and a customer base of more than 3.5 million. RFM Loyalty is Pakistan’s only smart card solution provider. Welcome is a provider of payment software that utilizes the full capabilities of EMV standard chip credit and debit cards.

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Chase & United Offer Double Miles for Taxes

United Mileage Plus and Chase will give cardmembers two miles for every dollar spent when they use the UMP Visa card to pay personal income tax, property or quarterly taxes. Cardholders can earn additional bonus miles by enlisting H&R Block’s services. First-time clients of H&R Block will earn 1,000 bonus miles when they use the UMP Visa card to pay for tax prep services. United Mileage Plus has over 45 million enrolled members. United Airlines is the world’s second largest airline, operating more than 3,500 flights a day. JPMorgan Chase & Co.is a leading global financial services firm with assets of $1.1 trillion and operations in more than 50 countries.

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SK Telecom to Support MasterCard’s PayPass

SK Telecom has inked a deal with MasterCard to upgrade the
merchant network to accept MasterCard “M/Chip” and to support the MasterCard “OneSMART PayPass” contactless payment program on their existing payments infrastructure. MasterCard and SK Telecom will work
to develop new mobile payment models to enable MasterCard cardholders in
Korea to use SK Telecom’s “Moneta” mobile payments service. MasterCard “PayPass” has already been implemented in several retail locations in the U.S. including McDonald’s.

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Peter Mark Selects Trintech’s ReconNET

Peter Mark has selected Trintech’s “ReconNET” to automate
the verification and reconciliation of its cash, check and credit card
deposits. Prior to licensing “ReconNET,” the salon chain used an in-house system and paper reports for deposit verification and reconciliation. Peter Mark management will now use “ReconNET” to immediately detect and flag issues for review, so they can quickly resolve exceptions and reduce write-offs. Peter Mark has 68 salons nationwide.

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Revolving Credit Tops $800B Milestone in Jan

Revolving consumer credit hit the $800 billion milestone during January. Americans added $5.4 billion to revolving credit during January compared to $7.8 billion in January 2004. The change further verifies that more consumers are paying credit card balances off in-full each month or increasing their monthly payment. The monthly payment rate is hovering at 18%, an all-time high. According to the Federal Reserve, Americans owed $801.4 billion in revolving credit at the end of January, compared to $796.0 billion for December. One-year ago revolving credit stood at approximately $753.2 billion. Bank credit card debt (excluding store and gas credit cards) at the end of the fourth quarter was $696.7 billion, or roughly 87% of total revolving credit, according to CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]). At the end of January, Americans were $2018.5 billion in debt, excluding home mortgages.

REVOLVING CREDIT HISTORICAL ($billions)
Jan 05 Dec 04 Nov 04 Sep 04 Jun 04 Mar 04 Dec 03
GRWTH: 8.1% 8.5 0.9 5.5 10.4 -1.9 5.4
$OWED: $801.4 796.0 790.4 785.2 765.2 768.9 758.7
Source: Federal Reserve; revised figures as of 3/07/05;
For complete historical data visit CardData (www.carddata.com)

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

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