Yogurt Specialist Joins the Upromise Program

The Dannon Company has joined the Upromise college savings program. The Dannon Company, Inc., is a leading national producer of yogurt products in the United States with corporate headquarters in Tarrytown, NY, and plants in Minster, OH; Fort Worth, TX; and West Jordan, UT. Upromise is a service that helps families save for college. Members can automatically earn money for college while making everyday purchases at more than 18,000 grocery and drug stores, 200 online shopping sites, 9,000 restaurants and 7,000 hotel locations nationwide, as well as tens of thousands of retail locations.

Details

UK Post Office Offers Loans and Eventually Cards

The UK’s Post Office Ltd and Bank of Ireland launched a major 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 $1,800 to $49,000, 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 $230 million into 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

200+ VISA USA Members Join Olympic Marketing

VISA USA reported that more than 200 members and 1,900 merchants in the USA have signed up for VISA “Olympic Games” marketing programs. VISA also has become one of the first major sponsors to initiate marketing activities related to the upcoming “ATHENS 2004 Olympic Games.” VISA said this week it has produced two additional “Olympic Games”-themed television spots which will air before the “Games.” During the “Super Bowl” VISA aired its first “Olympic Games”-themed TV spot. VISA’s “Team Spirit Promotion” sweepstakes is still underway and will conclude in April. The “ATHENS 2004 Olympic Games” will mark the 18th year of VISA’s sponsorship. VISA was the first sponsor signed on through 2012. ![][1]

[1]: http://www.cardweb.com/images/v/visa/olympics2004.jpg

Details

TowerGroup Adds Three Relationship Executives

TowerGroup has hired three sales or relationship executives. Luci Izzo, formerly with Gartner, has a strong background in the insurance industry. Michael McInerney previously held positions at GE Capital and Gartner. Christopher White comes to TowerGroup from Mount Vernon Strategies, a consulting company he founded in 1995, serving financial services clients including Merrill Lynch, JP Morgan Chase and Goldman Sachs. His expertise includes M&A research, due diligence, process analysis, revenue modeling and profitability analysis. MasterCard’s MasterCard Advisors is acquiring TowerGroup from Reuters. MasterCard’s research services also include MasterCard Advisors and Purchase Street Research. TowerGroup has been operating as a subsidiary of Reuters since 1999.

Details

Schmitt Joins Aimbridge Group as COO

Ann Schmitt, former VP of Global Risk Solutions and Management at MasterCard, has joined Denver-based The Aimbridge Group, a provider of financial products through partnerships with credit unions, as COO. Prior to joining The Aimbridge Group, Schmitt was vice president of Global Risk Solutions and Management at MasterCard International. She oversaw staff in the United States, Europe and Asia, where her focus was on payment card risk management for some of the largest financial institutions globally. The Aimbridge Group markets financial products, such as auto loans and leases, mortgages and insurance products through partnerships with credit unions.

Details

Seinfeld and Levinson Produce AmEx Webisode

American Express has launched a four-minute webisode teaming Jerry Seinfeld with Superman. Television advertising includes three 15-second teasers featuring clips of Seinfeld and Superman from the webisode that will appear on national and cable programming, in addition to local network affiliates. “Daily Planet”-themed polybags promoting the webisode will wrap numerous New York metro area newspapers, and will be distributed via home delivery in the market.Other “surround” marketing efforts include “Lid Rocks” and postcard distribution. Lid Rocks are a new type of specialized lid for fountain drinks served at movie theaters. The lids will house mini disks featuring content about the campaign, exclusive behind-the-scenes footage and clips from the webisode – accessible by computer. Postcards featuring three creative executions from the webisode will be distributed to hundreds of dining and entertainment merchants as well as health clubs in the greater New York area. The webisode was co-written by Seinfeld and directed by film director Barry Levinson.

Details

Excel vs Pay By Touch Lawsuit Moves Forward

San Jose-based Excel Innovations reports that San Francisco-based Pay By Touch (f/k/a Solidus and Indivos) has lost its motion to dismiss a patent infringement lawsuit with a trial date now expected to start later this year. The lawsuit is being closely watched by the financial and retail industries, as consumers have shown growing interest in the “tokenless biometric payment system” at issue in the case. Tokenless biometric payments have gained appeal with national retailers and the financial industry, benefiting from diminished smart card usage, increased adoption of biometrics, and the retail industry’s search for new ways to migrate consumers from cash and checks to lower-cost, more secure electronic payment methods.

Details

e-CommLink to Offer MasterCard STV Services

Houston-based e-CommLink this week announced it will offer MasterCard members both business and consumer stored value services to support issuer programs including payroll, insurance, healthcare, government, money transfers services, corporate and merchant cards, consumer general-purpose, gift and travel. e-CommLink’s advanced processing platform maximizes the value proposition and service matrix of both online and offline financial transactions. e-CommLink originated in 1996 as an Internet banking product company. MasterCard International is a leading global payments solutions company that provides a broad variety of innovative services in support of our global members’ credit, deposit access, electronic cash, business-to-business and related payment programs.

Details

HFC Bank and JLP Partner in the UK

HSBC Group’s HFC Bank and the John Lewis Partnership have signed a seven-year deal to launch a new co-branded MasterCard credit card in the United Kingdom. Under terms of the agreement, HFC will pay a $49 million upfront premium to JLP; JLP will transfer $457 million of existing account balances to HFC; and, both parties will enter into a revenue sharing arrangement. JLP currently has 1.8 million “Account Card” store card holders and 860,000 active card users in its John Lewis, Peter Jones and Waitrose stores, according to CardFlash International (www.cardflashinternational.com). 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, affecting about 130 full time positions. JLP will continue to offer the store “Account Card” program alongside the new bank credit card. 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

AmEx to Launch a Credit Card in China

The largest bankcard issuer and merchant network operator in China has inked an agreement to issue the first American Express-branded credit cards in China. Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, which already has 100 million cards-in-force including the “Peony” card, expects to issue the new card by the end of this year. ICBC indicated it plans to issue about 4 million of the new cards within the next ten years. The AmEx/ICBC card will be denominated in both renminbi and U.S. Dollars. The agreement is subject to regulatory approval. In January, Citibank and HSBC Holdings were approved to issue local-currency denominated credit cards in China. HSBC will issue cards through Bank of Shanghai, while Citibank will work through Shanghai Pudong Development Bank. Currently, there are 25 million credit cardholders, and virtually all of them are secured credit cards. AmEx says the Chinese market is still predominantly cash-oriented, and a host of disparate account numbering and point-of-sale terminal standards makes it exceedingly complex. American Express opened its first bank branch in Shanghai in 1918 and its first representative office in Beijing in 1979.

Details

World Wide Connect Produces Card Orders

FL-based World Wide Connect reports it has received initial orders for more than 50,000 co-branded or private labeled debit cards from seven different companies. Additionally, an agreement has been reached with a telecom reseller which will allow WWCT to offer the benefit of utilizing its debit card as a phone card offering its users the ability to make domestic and international phone calls at extremely low rates. The company is also in the final stages of delivering a first of its kind Payroll Debit Card where employers can issue a debit card branded with a Visa or Mastercard logo instead of issuing conventional paychecks. World Wide Connect, Inc. is an Internet Service Provider who specializes in domain names, web hosting, web design, web development, reseller programs and bringing total financial solutions through their family of products and services.

Details

Post Office and Bank of Ireland Co-Jo is Open for Business

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 £1,000 to £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 £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