Established Private-Label Portfolios Divest Slowly

Recent private label portfolio deals point to a new trend which shows that companies with very long histories and a deep culture in the card business are finally divesting. However, the deals take much longer than the typical 30 to 90 days to complete as they involve a more complicated decision process, often taking many months just to arrive at the decision to sell. Thousand Oaks, CA-based R.K. Hammer recently completed the sale between AL-based Marvin’s Building Materials and Home Centers and NJ-based Shoppers Charge Accounts. Hammer also facilitated the sale of Sunoco private label consumer and commercial card accounts to Citigroup. Hammer says both deals involved companies that have been in business for well over 50 years and the sale process took considerably longer than the typical closing period. Hammer has closed 117 card deals to-date, generating over $367 million in pre-tax profits for clients. Over 827,000 card accounts have now been sold through the Hammer firm in the first three quarters of 2004. (CF Library 6/4/04; 10/15/04)

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VISA Commercials Card GDV Hits $200 Billion

VISA International reported that dollar value of all purchases and cash withdrawals made with “VISA Commercial” payment solutions hit $200 billion for the four quarters ending June 30th. The figure was up 26% over the same period last year. VISA says it took 10 years for VISA to reach the $100 billion milestone and just three years to achieve $200 billion in annual commercial volume. VISA’s nine commercial products posted volume of $177.5 billion in 2003, an increase of 19% over the year-ago period. In the U.S., VISA reported that commercial cards produced a second quarter sales volume of $28.2 billion, a 23.9% increase year-on-year. As of June 30th, VISA had 22 million commercial cards in the USA.

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Palm Recognition VISA Launched in Japan

The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi has launched a new credit card with biometric security and wireless technology, according to CardFlash International. The “Super IC Card Tokyo-Mitsubishi VISA” uses hand recognition technology that allows special ATM machines to compare blood vein patterns in the hand with the user’s unique pattern. The new VISA card also contains Sony’s “EDY” wireless technology, which allows for non-contact, wireless transactions to be made at special terminals in subways, vending machines, and many retail stores. The “Super IC Card Tokyo-Mitsubishi VISA” is the first Japanese card that offers a revolving credit feature issued by a Japanese bank under its own name. BTM says it expects to issue one million cards each year with a goal of 200-300 billion yen within the first three years. The Brand Architect Group handled the card’s design.

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French Egg Credit Card Deal Goes Forward

The French Works Council has given its blessing on the sale of Egg’s
credit card business in France. Banque Accord agreed to pay Egg
140 million euros for 66,000 customers and net assets of approximately
205 million euros. Egg also has a pending offer from ING Direct France
for its savings and online brokerage business in France, which includes
approximately 45,000 accounts. In July, Prudential, majority owner of
Egg, announced it was exiting France after racking up nearly GBP100
million on losses. The partial disposal with Banque Accord will result
in the re-deployment of approximately 100 of Egg France’s 450 workforce.
Banque Accord has 3.5 million clients in Europe including more than 2.0
million in France, and employs more than 700 people in France, Warsaw,
and Lisbon. Banque Accord has a call center in Tours. For the second
quarter, Egg produced an operating profit for its British “Egg VISA”
card of GBP19.4 million versus an operating loss of GBP16.5 million for
its French “la Carte Egg VISA.”

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AIR MILES Launches a the Live Free Sweepstakes

A national survey from the “AIR MILES Reward Program” and Ipsos-Reid has found that Canadians’ first priority would be to
spend more time with family and friends if they had no bills to pay for one year. The survey was released in conjunction with the launch of “LIVE FREE FOR A YEAR!,” a new promotion that features the chance for three lucky Canadians to have their everyday expenses paid for an entire
year. The “LIVE FREE FOR A YEAR” contest is open to all AIR MILES
collectors who use their “AIR MILES” card and earn “AIR MILES” reward miles between October 18th and November 28th. Three Grand Prize winners will receive a year’s worth of everyday expenses, valued at approximately $37,000.

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Triton RT2000 and RL5000 ATMs Win Top Awards

MS-based Triton Systems won two awards at the ATM Industry Association “2004 Annual Global Awards” presentation for “Best ATM Technology – Through-the-Wall” category for its “RT2000” and “Best ATM Technology – Stand-Alone” category for its “RL5000”. The RT2000 provides merchants with a less expensive, easily serviceable device compared to more expensive through-the-wall ATMs. The RL5000 offers retail chains with flexibility, branding, and advertising capabilities. Triton is the largest provider of off-premise ATMs and ATM management software in North America.

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Optimal Payments Powers Intuit Canada’s QuickBooks

Optimal Payments has extended its agreements to provide credit card and direct deposit payroll processing to Intuit Canada’s “QuickBooks” customers. Optimal Payments has been providing credit card transaction processing services to Intuit Canada’s “QuickBooks” customers since it was first introduced in December 2000. The “QuickBooks Direct Deposit” service was initially launched in 2002. Optimal Payments currently provides these services to more than 2,000 “QuickBooks” customers. Optimal Payments processes credit card payments for Internet businesses, mail-order/telephone-order, and retail point-of-sale merchants, as well as processing checks and direct debits online and by phone.

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Lynk Systems Signs the Kansas Dental Association

The Kansas Dental Association has formed an alliance with Lynk Systems to offer its members a comprehensive suite of payment options. Lynk provides LynkPartners with a range of products to meet the needs of members’ individual processing, including credit, debit, EBT and check processing, e-commerce solutions, gift card, and loyalty programs. LynkPartner is a relationship program enabling banks and associations to offer their business members with value-added payment processing services. The Kansas Dental Association is a volunteer nonprofit organization with 1,168 members. It represents a commitment for the oral health of Kansas citizens along with all areas of the dentistry profession.

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JCB World Conference Draws 500

JCB held its “9th World Conference” in Kyoto with 469 representatives from 261 JCB partner companies in 47 countries attending. Presentations were made by top JCB management and regional speakers from JCB partners Bank of China, the Philippine’s Equitable CardNetwork, Germany’s B+S Card Service, GmbH, Global Payments, and Toyota Financial Services. Participants each received a contact/contactless interface plastic credit card as well as a G-Shock watch equipped with RFID contactless credit, and had a chance to simulate contactless credit payment purchases at street stalls during a mock Japanese festival.

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Grant Given to Expand Smart Cards in Latin America

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration has awarded the Smart Card Alliance a grant to be used to expand the market for smart cards in Latin America. The SCA has approximately 100 corporate, government, university, and associate members who represent manufacturers, software developers, banking organizations, system integrators, government entities, security companies, and other organizations. The alliance plans to increase awareness in Latin American markets about the benefits associated with smart card technology. The grant to the SCA was available through the Commerce Department’s Market Development Cooperator Program (MDCP).

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Rewards Network Expands Hotel Program

Chicago-based Rewards Network has expanded its hotel rewards program into Canada. RBC Royal Bank signed an agreement to provide its VISA cardholders with additional rewards points when dining. This is the first Canadian bank alliance for the Rewards Network. Last month, Hudson’s Bay Company introduced the “Hbc Rewards Dining & Hotels Program” in partnership with the Rewards Network. With plans to add non-dining merchants throughout Canada, Rewards Network currently includes more than 10,400 restaurants in Canada and the U.S.

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