ECHO to Challenge LML E-Check Patents

Electronic Clearing House has hired Sidley Austin Brown & Wood to defend itself in the e-check patent infringement suit filed last week in U.S. District Court by LML Payment Systems and LML Patent Corp. ECHO has not had an opportunity to review the complaint. However, ECHO has been aware of the LML patents for some time and has previously retained outside patent litigation counsel at the 1,500-attorney law firm of Sidley Austin Brown & Wood LLP. ECHO (www.echo-inc.com) provides a complete solution to the payment processing needs of merchants, banks and collection agencies.

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Jack in the Box Leads QSR Card Acceptance

San Diego-based Jack in the Box reports that all of its 1,553 company-owned restaurants and 90% of its 435 franchised locations now accept VISA, MasterCard and Discover. Jack in the Box is the nation’s first major drive-thru hamburger chain, with more than 1,970 restaurants, and Qdoba Mexican Grill is an emerging leader in fast-casual dining, with more than 140 restaurants.

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Well-Heeled Gets Another Private Jet Card

CT-based fractional jet ownership specialist, CitationShares, has taken-off with a new prepaid card that offers 25 hours of private flight time for as little as $91,000. The new “Citation Vector JetCard” joins the growing list of other private jet cards that include the “Marquis Private Jet Card”, “Boeing Business Jets Gold Card,” the “Stratus Rewards VISA”, and private jet rewards/options offered on “American Express” cards, and “Carte Blanche” cards. The “Vector JetCard” provides access to Citation “CJ1,” “Bravo,” “Excel,” and “Sovereign” private jets with as little as eight hours notice and one upfront fee. The “Marquis Private Jet Card,” launched in 2001, offers access to a variety of aircraft in 25-hour increments, with annual fees ranging from $109,000 to $255,000, depending on the aircraft selected. In April of this year, Los Angeles-based Stratus Rewards rolled-out a “White VISA” card for a $1,500 annual fee that offers a private jet rewards program. In 1999, Boeing Business Jets teamed with Air Routing and Delta Air Lines to launch the “BBJ Gold Card” which offers access to an integrated network of flight support services. In January 2004, Diners Club and Bombardier Skyjets teamed to offer “Carte Blanche” cardholders private jet access, and in March 2004, American Express partnered with Space Adventures to offer its cardholders the option of redeeming points for space flight experiences. Under the new AmEx program, cardholders enrolled in the “Membership Rewards” program, can reserve a seat for a ride aboard a sub-orbital spacecraft that will climb to an altitude of 62 miles, for 20 million points. (CF Library 10/12/99; 10/5/01; 1/12/04; 3/4/04; 4/14/04)

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Citi Unveils a New Flagship Rewards Program

Citibank has unveiled a new flagship loyalty rewards program that it expects to be the largest such program by the end of this year. The new “ThankYou Redemptions Network” offers “Platinum Select,” “Diamond Preferred Rewards,” “CitiBusiness Card,” and, “AT&T Universal” cardholders rewards including merchandise, dining, electronics, entertainment, APR reductions, hot air balloon rides, golf packages, spa packages, and even customized shopping experiences. Already 4.2 million customers who were in existing point-based reward programs have been automatically upgraded to “ThankYou Network.” Newly acquired cardholders in select rewards cards will be automatically enrolled in the new program. The “ThankYou Network” will be available on additional Citi products in the future. Citibank’s account base at the end of second quarter for North America was 125.8 million accounts, according to CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]).

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

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Euronet Buys TeleBuck$ POS Prepaid

Euronet’s PaySpot has acquired TX-based Call Processing, which sells prepaid services under the brand name “TeleBuck$” via POS terminals in the USA. CPI, which was established in 1992 as a pioneer in the prepaid long distance calling card industry, has become a major distributor of prepaid wireless and other services to convenience store chains. CPI provides prepaid processing services for 30 convenience store chains in 21 states. Euronet Worldwide is an industry leader in providing secure electronic financial transaction solutions. Through its prepaid subsidiaries-PaySpot, e-pay and transact-Euronet is the world’s largest provider of electronic distribution service, or top-up services, for prepaid mobile airtime.

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EDS Connects Fleet ATMs in the BofA Network

EDS has inked an eight-and-half-year, $1.1 billion managed network services outsourcing agreement to integrate the communications infrastructure for recently acquired FleetBoston Financial into Bank of America’s voice and data network. Once the integration is complete, BofA’s voice and data network will connect more than 180,000 associates, nearly 5,700 retail banking centers spanning 29 states and the District of Columbia, more than 16,500 ATMs, and facilitate Internet and telephone banking. EDS assumed responsibility for the Bank of America network in early 2003 as part of a 10-year, $4.5 billion contract. Under terms of the agreement, approximately 150 former Fleet associates will transition to EDS.

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Peppercoin Beefs-Up its Micropayment Solution

MA-based Peppercoin has upgraded its micropayment solution to aggregate low-priced transactions across many consumers, merchants and payment providers. “Peppercoin 2.0” offers a transparent interface; the ability to support all payment models from pay-per-use to subscription services on credit and debit cards; and, reduced customer service costs. Peppercoin’s solution is comprised of a small payment gateway; an associated customer self-care module with merchant-configurable business rules; a merchant aggregation service, which enables merchant accounts to settle payments; and a consumer aggregation service, which authorizes consumer spending and bills the consumer. “Peppercoin 2.0” can be deployed internally or as a hosted service for use in pilot programs.

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TD Outsources ATM Management to HP

TD Bank Financial Group and HP announced an initiative in which HP will upgrade and manage TD’s national automated banking network and POS transaction infrastructure. The seven-year outsourcing agreement, valued at C$320 million, will upgrade approximately 2,400 ATMs across Canada and TD’s automated banking and POS transaction processing system, according to CardFlash International. HP also secured outsourcing deals with MCI and Standard Register.

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MasterCard Finds Vietnam as the Most Optimistic

The latest bi-yearly “MasterIndex of Consumer Confidence” survey has found that 11 of 13 Asia/Pacific markets had an optimistic score, compared to eight in the preceding survey conducted at the end of last year. Japan’s “MasterIndex” score fell slightly short. Korea was the only other market to show a pessimistic outlook. Vietnam took the lead from China and tops the list with the highest score. The MasterCard survey explores five variables: employment, economy, regular income, stock market and quality of life. “MasterIndex” respondents are asked about their sentiments on these five variables for the six month period ahead.

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Metavante Does ATM Remote Key Distribution

Metavante this morning announced it has securely delivered remote key distribution technology to financial institution clients using “Triple DES”-enabled ATMs supplied by NCR and Diebold. Remote key distribution allows Metavante to securely generate encryption keys from its automated system, then send the encryption keys directly to the financial institution’s ATM. Previously this process was manual and required multiple individuals, from Metavante and the requesting bank, to generate, deliver and install encryption keys to each individual ATM. Metavante Corporation delivers virtually all of the technology that an organization needs to offer financial services.

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Payment Card Transactions Grow 76% per Annum

Ireland-based Research and Markets has issued a new report that found
that Chinese banks have issued over 140 million credit cards since 1985.
R&M says the number of cards issued by Chinese banks has increased by
64% each year. The total sum of transactions has increased by 76% per
year, and the number of retailers who accept the cards has grown by 51%
per year. The number of card-issuing banks has increased from the
initial four state-owned commercial banks to over 20 banks. Meanwhile,
the percentage of retail purchases using bankcards also has been on the
rise. Last year, it grew to nearly 10% of all retail sales revenue.
China launched its first credit card in 1985. The issuer was the Bank of
China and the card was called the “Great Wall Card.” The “Great Wall
Card” became a member of VISA in 1987 and began issuing the first
international credit cards in China in 1988.

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