HSBC Eyeing Another Acquisition

Widely published reports suggest that HSBC is eyeing a purchase of the credit card portfolios of Federated Department Stores. At mid-year Federated had $2.1 billion in private label outstandings and $900 million in bank credit card outstandings. Federated recently indicated it is exploring options with regard to its card portfolio. Federated operates more than 450 stores in 34 states, under the names of Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, Bon-Macy’s, Burdines-Macy’s, Goldsmith’s-Macy’s, Lazarus-Macy’s and Rich’s-Macy’s. Earlier this month, HSBC acquired Marks & Spencer Retail Financial Services Holdings Ltd for $1.4 billion.

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Ontario Telemarketers Targeted in a Crackdown

Law enforcement agencies have teamed with the United States to take on Ontario-based telemarketers who target U.S. citizens by running ads in U.S. newspapers that they pay for with stolen or compromised credit cards. The Toronto Strategic Partnership has brought 16 FTC cases and over 380 Canadian criminal charges, since 2000. The Toronto Strategic Partnership members include the FTC, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Toronto Police Service, the Ontario Ministry of Consumer and Business Services, the Ontario Provincial Police, and the Canadian Competition Bureau.

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MasterCard Sponsors the NYT’s Arts & Leisure Weekend

MasterCard is co-sponsoring the fourth New York Times “Arts & Leisure Weekend,” scheduled for January 7th through 9th. The Times has partnered with hundreds of cultural institutions in the U.S. and Europe to offer free admission, discounted prices, and special events at museums, theaters, performing arts centers, tourist attractions, movie theaters, restaurants, and spas and health clubs throughout the weekend. The Times will also be hosting “TimesTalks”, special edition discussions featuring numerous arts celebrities speaking with Times critics, reporters, and editors. Sponsors for the Arts & Leisure Weekend include California Closets, Grand Marnier, HBO Films, Loews Cineplex, MasterCard, Microsoft, Sprint, UBS, and Volkswagen. The New York Times Company is a leading media company that has been ranked No. 1 in the publishing industry in Fortune’s 2004 list of America’s Most Admired Companies for four consecutive years.

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Holiday Fliers Prefer Oprah, Gates, and Reading

The “Chase United Mileage Plus VISA Card Holiday Travel Survey” has found that 12% of consumers plan to fly during the holidays. The survey, conducted by ORC’s CARAVAN Omnibus Services, also found that travelers would most prefer to sit next to Oprah, among all talk show celebrities. Among college-age respondents, 40% wanted a seat next to Bill Gates. Travelers nearing retirement, ages 55 to 64 years old, would prefer to share an armrest with Warren Buffett. Despite the convenience of laptop computers, only 4% said they plan to do work during their flights.

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YTD GDV Tops $1.7T as Annual GDV May Exceed $2.4T

Americans made $598.8 billion in purchases and cash advances on VISA, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover credit and debit cards during the third quarter of this year. Through September 30th, consumers charged more than $1.7 trillion on major credit cards and signature debit cards this year. By year-end, Americans will have charged more than $2.4 trillion on major plastic cards during 2004, compared to $2.1 trillion in 2003. Based on year-to-date figures from CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]), VISA has a 53.6% market share with $924 billion in volume. Second place MasterCard holds a 29.2% market share with $503 billion in gross dollar volume. Third ranked American Express has captured 12.9% of the U.S. market this year with $221 billion in volume, while Discover holds a 4.3% share with $73.9 billion in volume.

Network Market Share based on YTD Gross Dollar Volume
NETWORK 2004 GDV SHARE
VISA: $924.0 billion 53.6%
MasterCard: $503.2 billion 29.2%
AmEx: $221.4 billion 12.9%
Discover: $ 73.9 billion 4.3%
TOTAL: $1722.5 billion 100.0%
Source: CardData (www.carddata.com)

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

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America West Launches the First Airline Gift Card

America West Airlines introduced the “America West Gift Card,” the first airline gift card in the USA. Customers can now purchase travel at local retailers including Kroger Co. stores, Fry’s and Smith’s, Valero Food Shops, Diamond Shamrock Corner Stores, Staples, Winn-Dixie, Bashas’, and other stores. The gift cards can also be used as employee incentives or to raise funds for non-profits. America West Airlines is the second largest low-cost airline in the U.S., serving 55,000 customers a day.

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eFunds and the SEC Settle Dispute Over the 02 Books

AZ-based eFunds reached a final settlement with the SEC in regard to an investigation concerning eFunds’ 2002 restatements of certain prior period financial statements. eFunds will not have to make any monetary payments under the settlement. eFunds Corporation is a chief provider of risk management, electronic payments, and global outsourcing solutions.

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TRM ATM Network Nears 22,000 ATMs

As of November 19th, TRM has completed its acquisition of 17,000 deployed ATMs from eFunds. The agreement will increase TRM’s international network from 4,616 ATMs to 21,816 ATMs, the single largest international ATM network. The eFunds ATM portfolio was comprised of approximately 2,200 full placement and 15,000 merchant-owned units located in geographically diverse retail locations. TRM also entered into a five year managed services agreement with eFunds, which includes a new ATM processing contract. The acquisition, announced in September, was paid for with $150 million in cash. (CF Library 9-21-04)

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Hyatt, Amex, and Borders Launch a Gift Card Promo

Hyatt, Borders Books & Music, and American Express launched a promotion yesterday offering every AmEx cardholder the opportunity to obtain a $25 Borders gift card upon check-in at a Hyatt. The promotion runs from November 21, 2004 – January 6, 2005. In addition, Hyatt is also providing various destination offers including free parking, discounts to local malls and shopping centers, restaurant discounts, room upgrades, and other benefits to spice up the holiday travel season.

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USA Technologies Hits Critical Mass with 55 Patents

USA Technologies has received two additional patents by the U.S. Patents Office for the IP behind the “e-Port” cashless transaction technology, and the “VendingMiser” energy management solution, bringing the Company’s total patents to 55. The new patents enable consumers to participate in customer loyalty programs, fill out surveys, and make purchases while buying a soda from a vending machine without using large amounts of energy. The power-conservation patent enables the vending machines to reduce energy consumption by nearly 50%. USA Technologies is a provider of networked credit card and non-cash systems in various industries including vending, commercial laundry, hospitality, and digital imaging.

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NexTran Snags a Seasoned Executive for Sales

NJ-based NexTran Group has named Harry Whitman, formerly with S2 Systems, Mosaic Software, NCR Corp., and Affiliated Computer Services, to the position of EVP for Sales. Mr. Whitman will be responsible for overseeing sales operations and management for five companies affiliated with NexTran, which cover numerous market segments, including financial services, the Internet, and security.

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