VISA Debit Captures Fall Fashion Sales

VISA reports that debit card volume during the first two weeks of this year’s fall fashion shopping season was up 26% over last year. Between September 1st and 15th, Americans rang up $720 million at clothing retailers using “VISA Check” cards, compared to $570 million in 2003, and $450 million in 2002. A Harris Interactive poll, commissioned by VISA USA, shows that 54% of 18-34 year old consumers would use a debit card to purchase an item, such as a sweater or pair of jeans, versus only 23% for cash and 5% for checks. When consumers were asked which payment method best would get them through busy check-out lanes this fall, a mere one percent agreed that checks would be the fastest.

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iBill Acquisition Hits Another Snag

In the continuing saga of iBill, Care Concepts yesterday announced it has rescinded the closing of its acquisition of Media Billing Company and its wholly owned subsidiary Internet Billing Company purchased from Penthouse International last month. Last week, Care Concepts received a notice from the AMEX of its intention to de-list the Company’s stock after it failed to provide details on the acquisition. Penthouse International last month announced a deal to sell iBill less than six months after acquiring the business from Atlanta-based InterCept. Penthouse’s Media Billing subsidiary acquired iBill in March in a transaction valued at approximately $33 million. Penthouse sold iBill to FL-based Care Concepts for $55 million in stock. (CF Library 3/17/04; 3/23/04; 5/25/04; 8/2/04; 9/1/04)

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Bank Executives Slowly Going Mobile

TowerGroup has released a study on the adoption of mobile data devices by financial services executives. The research titled, “Mobilizing the Financial Services Enterprise: Business Mobility Gets Unwired,” discusses what’s driving a growing number of financial services firms to take definitive steps toward going mobile on an enterprise level. TowerGroup says adoption of mobile data devices by financial services executives stands at approximately 10% of total industry employment, a number it expects to rise to 35% by 2009.

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CHIP & PIN RESPONSE

Northampton, where the largest “chip and PIN” trial was launched in the summer of 2003, has shown overwhelmingly positive support for the program. The national “chip and PIN” migration, which began October 2003, is fast approaching its target of 42 million cardholders, with 25.4 million cardholders upgraded to-date. Nearly 90% of “chip and PIN” cardholders in Northampton have used the new cards to pay for goods and services in the town; nearly three-quarters already use “chip and PIN” for at least half their purchases; and half use “chip and PIN” for most of their purchases. Two-thirds of Northampton’s “chip and PIN” cardholders feel the cards are safer and protect them from fraud and 84% think it would be much easier to forge a signature than guess a PIN.

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Americans Card $150 Billion in Bills & Fast Food

For the first time, Americans have paid more than $100 billion annually in household bills, including insurance, rent, cable TV, home phone, and mobile phone bills with debit and credit cards. Also, fast food sales on credit and debit cards should top $25 billion this year. The figure for household bills is expected to hit nearly $125 billion this year, up 27% from 2003. At mid-year, household bills on payment cards hit $110 billion, according to CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]). The growth in QSR sales is about double the 2003 level. The major card networks have been incenting consumers to card everyday expenses, in some instances awarding double points or special discounts. Tax payments via credit cards has also been an area of hot promotion this year. Bank One and American Express launched double miles promotions in the spring. (CF Library 2/23/04)

Consumer Bills on Cards
2000: $49.6 billion
2001: $60.4 billion
2002: $79.6 billion
2003: $98.4 billion
2004: $124.9 billion
SOURCE: CardData (www.carddata.com)

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

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Fargo Adds Two More DTC Card Printers

MN-based Fargo Electronics has introduced the “DTC300” and “DTC400” card printer/encoders utilizing Fargo’s “Direct-to-Card” technology. The DTC300 and DTC400 feature user conveniences such as pre-loaded ribbon cartridges and Fargo’s patent-pending SmartClean™ roller, designed to keep cards clean. Another convenience is Fargo’s SmartScreen™ LCD Control Panel, which provides prompts and commands giving users an updated status of print jobs. The DTC300 is intended for small corporations and has a suggested retail price of $2295. The DTC400 is intended for small to medium corporations and has a suggested retail price of $2895. Fargo is a world leader in secure technologies for card identity systems with over 80,000 systems in 80 different countries as well as the U.S.

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OTI Buys Polish Firm and Sells German Firm

Poland-based Nextel Spolka Akcyjna has agreed to sell its ASEC Spolka Akcyjna business to On Track Innovations. ASEC is a software company that provides complimentary solutions to OTI in the form of software and back office systems for mass transit ticketing and Payment solutions. The acquisition of ASEC will enable OTI to provide the required local support service for programs in the emerging European markets and will better position OTI to also provide complete solutions in these markets for its petroleum and smart ID solutions. ASEC has been working with OTI on various programs in Poland. In exchange for all of the outstanding shares of the capital stock of ASEC, OTI will issue to Nextel S.A. OTI ordinary shares having an aggregate market value of between $1.6 million and $1.95 million. OTI also announced it has decided to sell its wholly-owned German subsidiary, InterCard Kartensysteme GmbH for US$2.5 million, according to this week’s issue of CardFlash International. The subsidiary is engaged in the sale and support of closed campus systems. OTI says it is considered to be a highly competitive market with relatively low margins and high operating expenses. However, OTI will retain its profitable InterCard Systemelectronic GmbH subsidiary, which provides OEM and electronics manufacturing services. OTI designs, develops and markets secure contactless microprocessor-based smart card technology to address the needs of a wide variety of markets.

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Moneris Offers Peppercoin Micropayment Service

Moneris Solutions has formed an alliance with Peppercoin to meet the small payments processing needs of merchants. Peppercoin, a micropayments company, recently introduced the “Peppercoin 2.0” system to reduce transaction processing and customer service costs while driving increased small payments traffic over the payments network. Peppercoin’s small payments suite complements Moneris’ portfolio of solutions that enable merchants to accept credit and debit cards, paper and electronic checks, and gift and loyalty cards. Moneris Solutions will make “Peppercoin 2.0” available to its existing merchants and Peppercoin merchants by the end of the year.

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