Americans Avoid Card Debt for Vacations

A new study has found that only 19% of vacationing Americans are going to pay for the trip on their credit cards, down from 23% who did so last year. The research also found that 74% of vacationers plan to pay for the trip from checking or savings accounts, up 6 points from 2003. The “Cambridge Consumer Credit Index” also found that the difference between the amount of debt consumers say they will pay off in the next month versus the amount of debt they actually paid off a month later, increased by 5 percentage points from June to 13 points. A month ago, 81% of Americans planned to pay off debt, while a month later only 68% actually did so.

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Best Western and Diners Club Launch a Promotion

Best Western and Diners Club have launched a summer promotion offering up to 400 bonus points with qualified stays paid for with a “Diners Club” card. At the same time, Best Western guests continue to receive the standard Gold Crown Club points earned for each qualified stay. To be eligible, guests must reside in North America and register for the offer prior to their first stay at http://www.goldcrownclub.com, or call 1-800-237-8483 and mention promotion code DC400. Best Western International is THE WORLD’S LARGEST HOTEL CHAIN(R) with more than 4,100 hotels in 80 countries and territories.

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Cobra Tecnologia to use Falcon Fraud Manager

Fair Isaac has signed a new, multi-year agreement with Cobra Tecnologia S.A. to integrate Fair Isaac’s “Falcon Fraud Manager” into one of the world’s largest electronic banking networks. Cobra is the
information technology services subsidiary of Banco do Brasil. Cobra Tecnologia’s network currently connects more than 9,000 terminals to state-owned banks, including Banco do Brasil. Cobra Tecnologia recently established a partnership with USA-based S2 Systems to develop in Brazil one of the largest e-banking networks in the world. In its agreement with S2 Systems, Cobra Tecnologia has adopted S2’s “OpeN/2” transaction management and payment system as its standard operation management platform. Known as the “Cobra Switch Project,” the new network will be capable of handling initially 100 million transactions per month and will be the first in Brazil to be present in more than 3,500 cities. Fair Isaac’s “Falcon Fraud Manager” will add significant value to the shared network by offering advanced fraud protection to participating financial institutions.

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Providian to Close its San Antonio Center

Providian Financial announced it is closing its San Antonio customer service operations site at the end of the year, affecting 220 employees. All of the approximately 220 employees affected by today’s announcement will be given transition packages, including job placement services. Providian Financial (www.providian.com) is a leading provider of credit cards to mainstream American customers throughout the U.S.

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SBI & PASSPORT

New Delhi-based Hero Honda Motor Ltd., GE Capital India, and the State Bank of India have taken their co-branded VISA card nationwide after a year-long trial in four cities. The “Hero Honda SBI VISA Card” will now be marketed to 1.5 million members of Honda’s “Passport” in sixty cities. “Passport” members will receive an annual fee waiver for the first year. The card features a tiered interest rate based on the account balance, no transaction fees at IOC and IBP petrol pumps on fuel purchases of over Rs 250, and a one-year road accident insurance of Rs 100,000. Totally, Hero Honda, India’s largest two-wheeler maker, has more than seven million customers throughout the country. SBI Card is a joint venture of GE Capital and the State Bank of India. SBI Card currently has 350,000 classic VISA credit cards issued across 25 cities in India.

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Gift Cards Poised to Dominate Corp Incentives

Prepaid gift cards are quickly emerging as the preferred way to motivate, retain and reward employees. The overwhelming majority of companies recently surveyed said gift cards are easy to order and distribute, offer good value relative to cost, and that recipients highly value such a card. Of the 460 corporate incentive program decision makers interviewed 70% of the respondents offered incentives for employee performance, 56% for employee length of service, and, 54% as a sales incentive. The incentive industry is estimated to be a $30 billion market. The recent study by the Harris Interactive Online Panel for Valuelink, found that 40% used gift cards and/or gift certificates as incentive items within the past year, with 14% stating that gift cards are the most used incentive items within their company. Thirty-five percent of current gift card incentive purchasers anticipate expanding the number of cards they distribute in the next year. Of those, 17% said they will increase purchases by up to nine percent and, 18% of respondents said they will increase gift card incentive purchases by more than 10%. Fifty-five percent of gift cards given out as incentives are for less than $50. Approximately one-third carry values of $25 – $49; and 20% are for $100 or more.

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Dhanalakshmi Bank Outsources ATM Management to Euronet

Dhanalakshmi Bank Limited has signed an ATM outsourcing agreement with Euronet Worldwide. The deal involves 100 ATMs in South India. Euronet will also be providing VISA gateway services and help the Dhanalakshmi Bank launch its debit card program. The Dhanalakshmi Bank will also connect to Cashnet, which is a shared ATM network owned and operated by Euronet. Cashnet operates approximately 3,000 ATMs across 200 cities through its membership bank participation with IDBI Bank, UTI Bank, Citibank and Standard Chartered Bank.

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MyVigo to Expand Synapse RFID

MyVigo Corporation has contracted to leverage the IBSS “Synapse” platform for the development of its RFID retail point of service information management system. MyVigo intends to provide merchants in the United States and Canada with a customized suite of services keyed to RFID preferred customer identification cards/key fobs. The cards/key fobs will carry customer profile data that MyVigo issuing merchants require to identify their preferred customers. MyVigo Corporation seeks to provide merchants with RFID and Internet tools to advance in real time the management, delivery, acceptance, approval, administration, notice of service or maintenance, and proof of purchase related to commercial transactions — all with the swipe of a card/key fob at the point of sale. IBSS is the creator of Synapse(TM), a groundbreaking software technology. Synapse(TM) is a complete framework and methodology used to create, implement and manage a wide variety of dynamic, distributed, networked, and real-time enterprise applications including RFID, quickly and efficiently.

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BACS Approves New Bottomline Technologies WebSeries HSMs

Bottomline Technologies has released its “WebSeries” bureau functionality and “Hardware Security Modules.” Both modules have
been approved by BACS, the United Kingdom’s automated payment clearing
service. HSMs allow businesses to make transmissions to BACS without local smart card authorization, which is very important for high-volume payers and collectors. High-volume users of BACS include the financial services sector, utilities, and public sector organizations, which combined collect over 80% of the 2.4 billion direct debit payments made each year in the UK. Uniquely, Bottomline’s WebSeries product has been approved to support four different HSM manufacturers: nCipher, Chrysalis, Eracom and Thales. More than 60,000 companies use BACS to process payments, and will need to migrate to BACSTEL-IP by December 31, 2005.

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Ingenico Nabs Priore from Nova

Ingenico has hired John Priore, formerly of Nova Information Systems, as EVP of Financial Systems. John V. Priore comes to Ingenico with an impressive resume and list of accomplishments in the merchant acquiring industry. Prior to joining Ingenico, John most recently served as Senior Vice President and General Manager of Indirect Sales and Business Development at Nova Information Systems. INGENICO is the world’s largest provider of secure payment and transaction systems used by banking, retail, petroleum, transportation, healthcare and governments to ensure the secure acceptance and flow of electronic commerce.

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Waterpark Cashless Spending System Deployed

CA-based SafeTzone has deployed its “Cashless Spending Module” in Wild Rivers Waterpark. Cashless Spending provides guests with the ability to set spending limits for anyone in the group, especially young children, eliminates the need for carrying cash, and allows the day’s spending for the entire group to be done with a single credit card transaction. SafeTzone Technologies Corporation is the premier Location Services and Solutions Provider to the entertainment industry. Wild Rivers Waterpark, Southern California’s ultimate water theme park, features over 40 thrilling rides and attractions for all ages including water slides, inner tubes, activity pools, spas, lounging areas, scaled-down rides, wading pools for children and body-boarding in two wave-action pools.

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BofA Becomes the Official Bank of Baseball

Bank of America this morning became the first company to simultaneously sign national agreements with “Major League Baseball Properties,” “Minor League Baseball,” and “Little League Baseball.” Under the five-year agreement with Major League Baseball Properties, which begins immediately and continues through the 2008 Major League Baseball season, Bank of America will receive exclusive rights in its category, including the license of intellectual property rights, extensive broadcast and onsite branding opportunities and hospitality at the All-Star Game, the Division Series, the League Championship Series and the World Series. BofA also established a national affiliation with “Minor League Baseball,” and has signed a four-year national sponsorship agreement with “Little League Baseball.” The “Little League Baseball” deal provides exclusive rights to all banking and financial services categories, and includes targeted access to Little League officials, coaches and families, as well as on-site presence at state and regional tournaments, branding and signage at the Little League World Series, and a variety of other promotional programs.

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