The Post Office Ltd and Bank of Ireland have launched a joint venture to offer financial services products via the Post Office’s 16,500 branches in Europe. The partnership began this week with the introduction of an unsecured personal loan product, and may be followed by credit card products in late 2005. The personal loan product offers amounts ranging from Â£1,000 to Â£25,000, with interest rates ranging from 7.9% to 14.9%. The Post Office will also offer payment protection insurances. Besides a point of sale marketing and on-line advertising the Post Office is supporting the launch with TV advertising starting on April 5th featuring the “ant” theme. Bank of Ireland, which in the UK operates mainly through Bristol & West plc as well as its own brand branch network, will invest Â£125 million in to the venture over the next 10 years to provide core infrastructure and start-up costs. The venture is equally owned by the Post Office Ltd and Bank of Ireland with profits split evenly between the two. The Post Office offers 170 products and services, including banking, travel insurance and foreign currency, bill payments, lottery products, license applications, phonecards and mobile phone top-ups, and postal services.Details
Smart Chip Technologies is planning to unleash its next generation loyalty system next month. The end-to-end system includes “e-llegiance”, “Loyalty Central,” and “LoyaltyCentral.com.” “e-llegiance” is the loyalty application that runs on smart chips, devices, and POS terminals. “Loyalty Central” software and back office operations provide complete rewards program management, transaction processing, and accounting services. All user-interface is Internet-based via “LoyaltyCentral.com.” Engineered for “EMV,” “Global Platform,” and “MULTOS” compliance for electronic payments integration, this loyalty system can work with existing magnetic-stripe and bar code cards, any point-of-sale terminal, and is designed to run on the next generation of mobile commerce devices including smart cards, handheld PDAs, laptops, TV set top boxes, smart key fobs, and mobile phones. SCTN says it has invested $30 million into the system.Details
Houston-based ConocoPhillips is gearing up to replace “Conoco MasterCards” and “Phillips 66 MasterCards” with a “ConocoPhillips MasterCard.” The new card offers a 3% rebate on purchases made at Conoco, 76 or Phillips 66 stations. Cardholders also earn a 1% rebate on all other purchases. Previously, “Conoco MasterCard” customers earned a 3% rebate on Conoco station purchases and a 1% rebate on all other purchases. “Phillips 66 MasterCard” customers earned a 2% rebate on Phillips 66 purchases and a 1% rebate on all other purchases. This is a new program for the 76 branded outlets, and the first cross rebate acceptance card available from ConocoPhillips. The Company also said that accounts booked between February 1st and May 31st, will receive a $20 rebate credit upon first use.Details
Dallas-based TransFirst has acquired Newport Beach, CA-based Payment Resources International. The deal will add approximately $1.8 billion in annual processing volume, and 7,500 total merchant contracts to TransFirst’s network. TransFirst also acquired proprietary, internally developed technology capable of supporting its growth in Internet-based credit card processing, ACH / check conversion processing, recurring billing and wireless processing. PRI is the second acquisition TransFirst has announced this month. Two weeks ago, Cincinnati-based Fifth Third Bank Processing Solutions signed a deal to sell its third party and agent bank merchant division to TransFirst. TransFirst currently processes approximately $11 billion in annual sales volume for more than 70,000 merchants and 545 banks. The Fifth Third acquisition, which will close this week, will bring TransFirst’s annual volume to about $18.5 billion. (CF Library 3/11/04)
2000: $2.5 billion
2001: $3.1 billion
2002: $5.8 billion
2003: $11.0 billion
2004: $18.5 billion
Source: CardData (www.carddata.com)
United Airlines has hired Arnold Lewis, formerly VP for Strategic Alliances at AARP Services, as VP/Marketing Programs and president of United Loyalty Services, overseeing the “Mileage Plus” program as well as the co-branded credit card program with Bank One and VISA. He will also oversee the United Loyalty Services membership programs, which include the Silver Wings Plus seniors’ program, the newly launched Ameniti program for luxury travel, and MyPoints.com — the leading provider of Internet direct marketing services. United, United Express and Ted operate more than 3,400 flights a day on a route network that spans the globe.Details
UATP has named Dirk Locascio, who recently joined United Airlines as director of passenger revenue accounting after a position at Bank One, to its board to replace Marc Krohn, who was promoted within United Airlines. Prior to joining United, Locascio held management positions with Deloitte & Touche LLP and Arthur Andersen LLP. Most recently, he worked for Bank One Corporation, where he was responsible for managing numerous process reviews and evaluating control environments in areas such as consolidations, general ledger operations, corporate tax, procurement, and real estate management. UATP is a global corporate travel payment network. UATP accounts are actively issued by 15 member airlines and accepted as a form of payment for corporate business travel by more than 200 airlines worldwide.Details
TX-based Electronic Financial Group and EFG Card Services have agreed to pay $3.9 million in consumer redress for providing substantial assistance to numerous deceptive telemarketers. In July, the FTC alleged that EFG provided ACH payment processing services to outbound telemarketers, and systematically breached a contractual provision with their bank that required EFG to comply with the NACHA “Operating Rules,” specifically, the prohibition on processing ACH transactions on behalf of outbound telemarketers, and thereby engaged in an unfair practice. Second, the FTC alleged that the defendants violated the “FTC Act” by deceptively marketing their own advance-fee debit cards. Also as part of the settlement, the defendants are banned from processing payments for any telephone-initiated sales through the ACH Network.Details
GA-based GO Software announced its certification to Paymentech’s “NetConnect,” a direct Internet connection to its card authorization center. Paymentech, L.P. processes more payment transactions than any other company in North America – and more than half of all Internet transactions – for retailers accepting U.S. and international payments via traditional point of sale, Internet, catalog and recurring payments. GO Software, a subsidiary of Return On Investment Corporation, is a leading provider of POS payment processing software. More than 100,000 businesses use GO Software’s solutions to process payments at high speed, expand tender types, and lower credit card costs.Details
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