E-Spending Rises 28% This Year to $16.7B

Online shoppers in the U.S. spent $16.7 billion during the first six weeks of the this year’s holiday season, rising 28% from the $13 billion spent online during the same timeframe in 2003. According to the “2004 eSpending Report,” music was the fastest growing category year-over-year in revenue during the first six weeks of the 2004 holiday season, jumping 33%. The video/DVD and jewelry categories tied for second place, surging 32% each. Rounding out the top five fastest growing categories, the books category increased 27%, while the toys/video games category grew 22%. The “eSpending Report” by Goldman Sachs, Harris Interactive and Nielsen//NetRatings is based on a weekly national survey of more than 1,000 adult consumers.

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Trilegiant Launches Hotel and T&E Cards

VA-based Trilegiant Loyalty Solutions and Destination Rewards have teamed to offer hotel reward cards and a travel & entertainment card. The “Destination Rewards” hotel reward card provides instant savings at thousands of participating locations nationwide. Via the Web, customers will be directly connected in real-time to thousands of hotel partners offering instant savings from 15-40% off of the lowest unrestricted hotel rates available. “Rewards cash” is applied towards these published prices offered directly from hotels, resorts or other participating suppliers. The new travel & entertainment card rewards customers with savings on a variety of products, from cruise packages and vacation condominium rentals to DVD movies, Samsonite luggage and computer software.

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AVS Impedes Gift Card Usage

ClearCommerce issued a merchant advisory encouraging retailers to closely review “Address Verification System” rules used to process online orders. Use of general purpose gift credit cards has caused many valid online transactions to be rejected because of commonly enforced AVS anti-fraud rules. Because gift credit cards are not issued to a specific consumer, these cards typically do not have a billing address tied to the card. In these cases most of the financial institutions issuing branded gift cards return special codes indicating that the address could not be validated; however, some online merchants have programmed their systems to simply reject transactions that do not obtain a full match AVS response. ClearCommerce says that with an expected spike in post-holiday online purchases using gift cards, all merchants should carefully review AVS rules and policy.

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Equifax and Fair Isaac Launch Score Watch

Equifax and Fair Isaac have partnered to launch a new service to enable consumers to track their “FICO” credit score. “Score Watch” continuously monitors subscribers’ Equifax credit file for changes that can affect their FICO scores. Once a change is detected, “Score Watch” alerts subscribers via email or wireless text message, advising them to visit a secured Web site for a detailed explanation of the change in credit status. If the subscriber’s credit score changes by a significant amount due to changes in their credit file, the “Score Watch” alert will also include their up-to-date score. “Score Watch” subscribers also can preset a target score and be notified when they reach it, a valuable service for consumers who are aiming to qualify for a mortgage, home equity, or auto loan at a lower interest rate. “Score Watch” is available for $7.95 per month or $79.95 for 12 months.

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Chevy Chase Renews its STAR Contract

Chevy Chase Bank, with 850 ATM locations and 650,000 debit cards, has renewed its relationship with First Data’s “STAR Network” for PIN debit services. First Data Corp., with global headquarters in Denver, helps power the global economy. As a leader in electronic commerce and payment services, First Data serves approximately 3.5 million merchant locations, 1,400 card issuers and millions of consumers, making it easy, fast and secure for people and businesses around the world to buy goods and services using virtually any form of payment. Chevy Chase Bank is the largest locally owned financial institution in the greater Washington, DC market with $13 billion in assets and over $9 billion in deposits.

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CO-OP Network Deploys Falcon Fraud Manager

The CO-OP Network has deployed the enhanced “Falcon Fraud Manager” for PIN-based transactions. Falcon Fraud Manager prevents losses by calculating and assigning scores to incoming transactions using data-modeling and individual member history profiles. The result of the system is a neural network that quickly identifies potentially fraudulent activity while generating fewer false positives on cardholder transactions. CO-OP Network (www.co-opnetwork.org), established in 1981 and located in Ontario, Calif., is wholly-owned by its credit union shareholders and provides volume discounts on products and services that include risk management as well as debit and deposit access.

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Merchant e-Solutions Becomes a UATP Acquirer

Merchant e-Solutions has become an UATP acquirer in which all “Sabre Connected” travel agencies will be able to process service fees against an UATP charge card. MeS offers a single platform to Sabre Connected agents utilizing Sabre(R) Magnify(SM) Revenue Advantage with Card Services which facilitates the processing of service fee transactions for UATP, Discover Card, Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Diners Card. UATP accounts are actively issued by 15 member airlines and accepted as a form of payment for corporate business travel by more than 200 airlines worldwide.

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Triton Gears Up for RT2000 Production

MS-based Triton is set to begin production of its new low-cost through-the-wall ATM, the “RT2000”. The new model is UL weather rated, has custom- engineered dispensing mechanisms, dial-up and TCP/IP as standard communication options, and is certified Triple DES, Visa(TM) EPP and ADA compliant. Triton is the largest provider of off-premise ATMs and ATM management software in North America and has more than 118,000 installations in 17 countries worldwide.

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Lynk Becomes CISP and SDP Certified

Atlanta-based Lynk has achieved compliance with VISA’s “Cardholder Information Security Program” and MasterCard “Site Data Protection” programs. Lynk, a leading payment processor recently acquired by the Royal Bank of Scotland, has always made security and data integrity standards a priority for the company. Lynk, headquartered in Atlanta, GA, is a single-source, full-service provider of electronic payment processing services (including credit, debit, EBT, gift cards, customer loyalty cards, checks and more).

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Hypercom Lowers Full Year Income Forecast

Hypercom confirmed its previous guidance for full year 2004 revenues of $254-260 million but reduced its expectation of full year income from continuing operations from $21.0-22.4 million to $13.4-16.5 million. Hypercom is a leading global provider of electronic payment solutions that add value at point-of-sale transactions for consumers, merchants, and acquirers, and yield increased profitability for its customers. Widely recognized as the payment technology innovator, Hypercom delivers comprehensive card payment terminal, network and server solutions that help merchants and financial institutions generate revenues and increased profits.

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Weekend Card Volume Up More Than 9%

Card activity for the fourth holiday shopping weekend rose more than 9% compared to one-year ago. MasterCard predicts that Thursday, December 23rd will be the busiest day in terms of transaction volume — and that and the busiest hour most likely will be from 2 to 3 p.m. CT on Christmas Eve. For the weekend of December 17-18, MasterCard processed 71.3 million authorizations over its “Banknet” network, as compared to 65.3 million for the same period in 2003.

MASTERCARD TRANSACTIONS
Holiday Weekend Transactions Growth
Nov 26-27 64.2 million +9.3%
Dec 3-4 64.6 million +15.8%
Dec 10-11 67.7 million +7.8%
Dec 17-18 71.3 million +9.2%
Source: MasterCard International

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