Merrill Lynch Cardholders Get a Private Jet Benefit

Marquis Jet has become the exclusive private aviation of the partner of the “MERRILL+” and “Merrill Lynch VISA Signature” card program. Under the partnership, cardholders who purchase a 25-hour “Marquis Jet” card will have their choice of either an additional free flight hour or a one-way aircraft upgrade. In addition, Marquis Jet will now be a participant in the Merrill Lynch rewards programs, allowing cardholders to redeem points toward private jet flight hours. “MERRILL+” and “VISA Signature” cardholders will be provided a full aviation consultation and needs-analysis upon contacting Marquis Jet. Merrill Lynch clients who express an interest in the program will also have an exclusive, one-time opportunity to purchase a one-way or roundtrip flight to experience the “Marquis Jet Card” program.

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Lipman USA Gets a New President and CEO

Lipman has named Robert Striano as its new President and CEO of Lipman USA, replacing Mony Zenou. Mr. Striano brings to Lipman an extensive background in management, sales and marketing in such industries as technology, consumer products and pharmaceuticals. Mr. Striano holds a B.S. in Marketing from Fordham University, and has participated in the Executive MBA programs in Financial Management at Columbia Business School and in Strategic Marketing at Harvard Business School. Lipman is a leading worldwide provider of electronic payment systems. Lipman develops, manufactures and markets a variety of handheld, wireless and landline POS terminals, electronic cash registers, retail ATM units, PIN pads and smart card readers, as well as integrated pin and smart card (“Chip & Pin”) solutions.

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Prepaid Calling Card Revenues to Decline Slightly

A new study has found that prepaid calling card revenues will decline for the next five years, shrinking to $3.3 billion annually. However, prepaid wireless revenues will expand at a compound annual growth rate in excess of 20%. The research by Boston-based ATLANTIC-ACM found that the prepaid calling card segment has matured and will experience a slight annualized decline of 1.3% through 2009. This year, domestic calling accounted for 39% of calling card revenues. By 2009, it will represent no more than 17%. ATLANTIC-ACM says the growth in prepaid wireless revenues will be generated from hybrid plans, which represented 51% of revenues in 2004 but will account for 68% of revenues by 2009. Hybrid plans are prepaid plans functioning with automatic replenishment facilitated via credit cards or checking accounts for monthly recurring payments but stop short of linking customers to the wireless provider by a contract.

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Commerce Bank Launches a Free and Boxed Gift Card

NJ-based Commerce Bank is unveiling a “VISA Gift Card” this Friday that is free of issuance fees. The new “Commerce VISA Gift Card” is an instant-issue card available in Commerce Bank’s more than 300 retail locations. The card is available in any whole dollar amount between $25 to $500. The red foil card is also elegantly wrapped in a signature red box and tied with a white satin ribbon. Commerce Bank has locations in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Delaware.

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OCC Cautions Consumers on Gift Card Fees

The OCC issued a consumer advisory yesterday on the terms and conditions that apply to gift cards. Some issuers, for example, deduct a monthly fee from the gift card or apply inactivity fees if the card has not been used for some period of time. Gift card holders may not realize that the value of their cards has been reduced until they use them for a purchase. The OCC charters, regulates and examines approximately 2,000 national banks and 51 federal branches of foreign banks in the U.S., accounting for more than 56 percent of the nation’s banking assets.

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Juniper Hires Euro RSCG 4D for its Cobrands

Euro RSCG 4D, formerly Devon Direct, has been selected by Juniper Bank to develop direct marketing creative for the issuer’s cobrand programs. Juniper Bank has relationships with more than a dozen credit card affiliates, including Best Western, AirTran, Frontier, and Orbitz. The Wilmington, Delaware-based bank chose Euro RSCG 4D based on the agency’s experience and creative excellence in the financial marketplace. Euro RSCG 4D is the world’s largest direct and digital agency network, with unparalleled ability to drive brand experience, based on an intelligent approach to data that produces insight and accountable results.

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New NACHA Operating Rule Takes Effect Dec. 10th

A new NACHA operating rule governing third-party processing of ACH payments will take effect on December 10th. The new rule requires agreements that specifically bind third-parties to the “NACHA Operating Rules” when a third-party’s customer does not have such an agreement with the originating financial institution. It is a widespread practice in the ACH Network and other payment systems for third parties to process payments between companies and financial institutions. In the ACH Network this is commonly done by payroll processors with Direct Deposit, and by other service companies with consumer payments, such as bill payments. However, not every company that uses a third-party processor has an agreement with the ODFI that binds the company to the Rules; instead the company has an agreement with the third party. The new rule requires that, in such cases, the company’s agreement with the third party, and the third party’s agreement with the ODFI, specifically require adherence to the NACHA Operating Rules, among other responsibilities.

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Cap One Supports the National Foster Care Fund

Capital One has partnered with Bruce Willis’ “National Foster Care Fund” to create a national scholarship program to benefit youth and children in foster care. In the United States today, more than half a million children are living in foster care. Capital One’s Fostering a Future scholarship program is designed to help youth and children in foster care reach their potential by empowering them with the educational skills and tools they need. Capital One Financial Corporation (http://www.capitalone.com ), a Fortune 500 company, is one of the largest providers of MasterCard and Visa credit cards in the world. The National Foster Care Fund (NFCF) was founded in 2004 by Bruce Willis and provides strategic outlets for celebrities, community-based organizations, private and public corporations, traditional foundations, and government agencies to pool resources to enhance and improve the lives of foster youth throughout the nation.

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EMV CONTACTLESS

VISA Europe has demonstrated the world’s first viable EMV compliant solution to enable true “tap and go” contactless payments for low-value transactions. The solution used a standard “VISA Smart Debit and Credit” application, and, an Ingenico POS terminal connected to a Vivotech contactless reader. A similar demonstration was also shown using the Nokia “3220” mobile phone equipped with a tailored Nokia “Near Field Communications” shell cover enabling contactless payments. To enable instant payment, the cardholder is not prompted for their PIN, and instead security is enabled by transaction counters that force the cardholder to perform an online authorized “Chip and PIN” transaction should they reach the pre-authorized offline limit specified by their bank, thereby preventing indefinite usage of the card if lost or stolen.
Higher value transactions would continue to be performed with full “Chip and PIN” authentication.

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Paymentech Enters the Vending Industry

Dallas-based processor Paymentech has entered the vending industry with a contract with Pepsi-Cola North America to process credit and debit cards in several hundred vending machines throughout the country. Paymentech won the exclusive, multi-year contract to process all credit and debit transactions at Pepsi vending machines in the U.S. that are enabled with cashless vending technology. Currently, Pepsi’s bottlers have several hundred machines wirelessly accepting credit and debit cards in high-traffic venues such as malls, convention centers, casinos, and hotels. Pepsi-Cola North America (www.pepsi.com) is the $4 billion refreshment beverage unit of PepsiCo Inc. in the United States and Canada. Paymentech, L.P. processes more payment transactions than any other company in North America — and more than half of all Internet transactions — for retailers accepting U.S. and international payments via traditional point of sale, Internet, catalog and recurring payments.

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VISA USA Launches the F.A.M.E. Network

VISA USA has launched the “Financial Advice and Money Experience” network, featuring celebrities offering advice, personal anecdotes and philosophies on money management. http://www.practicalmoneyskills.com will include primetime television personalities such as Jane Kaczmarek (Lois from FOX’s “Malcolm in the Middle”), Cheryl Hines (Cheryl David from HBO’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm”) and Jasmine Guy (Roxy from Showtime’s “Dead Like Me”). The Practical Money Skills for Life curriculum is teacher tested and teacher approved. At the 2001 National Education Association Expo, the program was put before teachers to evaluate and grade. Visa is the world’s leading payment brand and largest consumer payment system, enabling banks to provide their consumer and merchant customers with a wide variety of payment alternatives.

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