The John Lewis Partnership has inked a seven-year deal with HSBC Group’s HFC Bank to launch a new co-branded credit card for its 1.8 million “Account Card” users in John Lewis, Peter Jones and Waitrose stores. Under terms of the agreement, HFC will pay a Â£27m upfront premium to JLP; JLP will transfer Â£250m of existing account balances to HFC; and, both parties will enter into a revenue sharing arrangement. The employee-owned department store and supermarket group will also transfer all of the back office administration functions relating to the JLP Customer Accounts business to HFC Bank’s Birmingham office. The move will affect around 130 full time positions. JLP currently has 860,000 active store card users among its 1.8 million registered cardholders. JLP will continue to offer the store “Account Card” program. The new HFC/JLP co-branded “Partnership” credit card will offer a 13% interest rate and 1% rebates on JLP transactions, and 0.5% rebates on purchases made elsewhere. The John Lewis Partnership operates 26 department stores across the country and 141 Waitrose supermarkets in Central and Southern England (one in Wales). HFC Bank issues cards under its own brand, “marbles,” through major partnerships with organizations such as Vauxhall Motors, and through over 80 affinity arrangements with organizations such as the RSPCA, IoD, Open University.Details
The Federal Reserve Board on Friday issued revisions to Regulation Z, which implements the Truth in Lending Act, and to the official staff commentary that applies and interprets the requirements of the regulation.
Regulation Z is revised to add an interpretative rule of construction to clarify that where the word “amount” is used in the regulation to describe disclosure requirements, it refers to a numerical amount. In addition, revisions to the staff commentary provide guidance on consumers’ exercise of rescission rights for certain home-secured loans.
The Board is also publishing several technical revisions to the commentary. The revisions are effective April 1, 2004. The date for mandatory compliance is October 1, 2004.
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OH-based National City has selected TWS Systems’ ATM management solution for its 1,580 ATMs. Some of the features the new ATM solution will provide for the bank include the latest balancing and fraud detection technology on the market. The solution will help the bank meet windows on deposits and balance transactions to the general ledger. National City Corporation, headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio, is one of the nation’s largest financial holding companies. Clearwater, Fla.-based TWS Systems, Inc. is a privately held financial services company that is the first company to offer total deposit automation with image-based ATMs.Details
Pennsylvania Secretary of Banking, Bill Schenck, last week announced that 84% of the check cashers in the state that cash government checks, and 87% of grocery store registrants, have agreed to charge no more than 2.5% to cash government checks. In many communities, check cashers are the primary financial services provider and people in these communities rely on them to pay their bills. A comprehensive list of the check cashers and grocery store registrants who have voluntarily made this pledge is on the Department’s Web site at , or call 1-800-PA BANKS for more information.Details
BioPay reports that BI-LO has signed up about 20,000 customers, and cut check cashing fraud by more than 60% using its biometric “Paycheck Secure” solution. The company has used Paycheck Secure to successfully complete nearly 100,000 check cashing transactions worth more than $21 million dollars. Nearly 40,000 BI-LO customers are now enrolled in Paycheck Secure. BI-LO, with headquarters in Mauldin, SC, operates nearly 300 supermarkets in the Carolinas, Georgia and Tennessee, and employs 22,000 associates. BioPay(R) has been providing smart, secure methods for processing financial transactions.Details
Advanta has teamed with Women in Technology International to launch the “WITI Platinum Business Card”. In connection with the alliance, the organizations announced the introduction of the WITI Platinum Business Card that offers the convenience, access and savings that appeal to women business owners. The organizations also introduced the “Building Business for Women” program designed to increase revenues and brand awareness for women-owned businesses. WITI is the premiere organization empowering women worldwide to achieve unimagined possibilities, transformations, and a global culture of inclusiveness through leadership and economic prosperity. Advanta is a highly focused financial services company serving the small business market.Details
NY-based U.S. Wireless Data has filed for bankruptcy and is selling off its two major business units. USWD is selling its “Synapse” POS gateway business to Brascan/NBS for $2.85 million in cash, plus up to $2.15 million credit for free payment processing services to be rendered to USWD for its vending operations. The company simultaneously announced that it had reached agreement with SANI Operating Co. to sell its vending operations to Sani, including the $2.15 million credit for free payment processing services from NBS, for $1.6 million in cash plus the assumption of certain liabilities. NBS will also assume certain liabilities. The two deals are expected to be consummated by May 21st, however other parties will have an opportunity to submit bids for the “Synapse” and vending businesses through a court-supervised competitive bidding process. USWD says it was unable to increase revenues sufficiently to bring the company to profitability or to secure additional financing to maintain its viability. Last month the Company reported fourth quarter revenues of $1.3 million. For complete details on USWD’s fourth quarter results visit CardData ([www.carddata.com]).
PA-based debt collector Penncro Associates announced it is shutting down its Hilo, Hawaii call center in May. The move will result in lay-offs to 175 employees starting this week. The Company opened the Hilo center in 1999 to take advantage of the time differential with the mainland. The Hawaii Island Economic Development Board says Penncro had problems renegotiating its lease as well as employee probems. Penncro was founded in 1982 and opened its first satellite office in Philadelphia in 1997. In 2001, Penncro opened an office in Taos, New Mexico and in 2002 opened another call center in McAllen, Texas. The firm has had as many as 1,600 employees.Details
Minneapolis-based casino specialist, Cash Systems, has raised $10 million in a private placement. The Company intends to use the proceeds from this offering for general working capital and potential acquisitions, should any arise. Cash Systems, Inc. has grown from a regional ATM provider to one of four cash access companies serving the gaming industry.Details
Paris-based Schlumberger announced last week it has filed the necessary documents to take its wholly-owned smart card subsidiary, Axalto, public, and will do so when market conditions permit. Axalto generated a net profit of $30 million in 2003 on gross revenues of $933 million. During the fourth quarter, Axalto reported revenue of $206 million, a 6% increase over the same period last year and 2% sequentially. For the year, cards revenue was $717 million versus $658 million in 2002. Pretax operating income of $27 million increased 21% sequentially and 36% year-on-year. Reportedly, Schlumberger will list the stock only on the Paris stock exchange. For complete details on Schlumberger and Axalto fourth quarter results visit CardData ([www.carddata.com])
Citibank recently introduced the “Citi Bronze AAdvantage MasterCard” for frequent travelers, and Household Bank/Orchard Bank is currently promoting its “Silver MasterCard” to consumers with lower credit scores. CardWatch ([www.cardwatch.com]) also reports this month that American flag cards are also spreading among the card industry. Capital One is now marketing its “American Flag Platinum MasterCard.” Discover pioneered the “Flag” card in early 2001, and Providian followed with a “Flag” card after 9/11.
A new poll shows that nearly two thirds of corporate customers would pay additional fees to banks for improved, more detailed information about their payments, while a third could consider switching banks for such information. The poll of both banks and their corporate customers, conducted on behalf of LogicaCMG by gtnews, highlights that while banks have suffered heavy criticism from the media over recent profit announcements, 85% of banks felt they offered value for money for their payment services and half of their corporate customers agreed. Currently, in Europe alone, corporate customers annually spend EUR90
billion handling paper invoices and remittances. LogicaCMG says if companies had access to information such as reference data for remittance matching, they could save up to 80% of this by switching to paperless mechanisms and automatically matching payments to payables and receivables.