All Nippon Airways Launches a Co-Branded VISA Card with US-Based InfiBank

All Nippon Airways has teamed with a U.S.-based firm to launch a co-branded VISA card denominated in US dollars for “ANA Mileage Club” members. Atlanta-based InfiCorp Holdings is issuing and administering the new “ANA CARD U.S.A. VISA” through its InfiBank affiliate. ANA says the card is being issued through the U.S.-based company to avoid the currency exchange disadvantages of a yen-denominated card. Under the program, cardholders earn one mile for every dollar they spend using the card and will be awarded 5,000 bonus miles for the first purchase they make using the card, plus an additional 5,000 bonus miles if the first purchase is made before Sept. 30th. The card offers a 1.9% introductory interest rate for the first five billing cycles, and then goes to a 13.99% variable rate. The card also carries a $70 annual fee. Members also receive discounts for in-flight purchases, and discounts at ANA hotels and duty-free shops. As part of the “ANA CARD U.S.A” program, InfiCorp and ANA are providing both English and Japanese versions of a Web site for the card, as well as Japanese-language customer service through Tokyo-based Prestige International’s multi-lingual call centers. ANA is the world’s eighth largest airline. This is the first such affiliation for ANA outside Japan.

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Nokia, Philips, and Sony Tackle Touch-Based Payments

Nokia, Philips, and Sony have teamed to establish the “Near Field Communication Forum” to promote the use of touch-based interactions for payment purposes. The new forum will promote implementation and standardization of “NFC” technology to ensure interoperability between devices and services. “NFC” technology evolved from a combination of contactless identification and interconnection technologies. “NFC” operates in the 13.56 MHz frequency range, over a distance of typically a few centimeters. NFC technology is standardized in “ISO 18092,” “ECMA 340,” and “ETSI TS 102 190.” NFC is also compatible to the broadly established contactless smart card infrastructure based on “ISO 14443 A”, i.e. Philips “MIFARE” technology, as well as Sony’s “FeliCa” card.

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OCC Wants Transparency on Bank Subsidiaries

The OCC has published a proposed rule to assist consumers in identifying national bank operating subsidiaries and is seeking comment. In order to provide more specific information to consumers, the proposed rule would require national banks to file an annual report with the OCC containing information about national bank operating subsidiaries that are not functionally regulated by other regulators and that do business directly with consumers. The OCC invites comment on whether the information requested is adequate to apprise consumers of the information they need to identify the company as a national bank operating subsidiary.

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Hypercom Being Tracked by Morgan Keegan

Morgan Keegan began research coverage on Hypercom this week and has issued an “outperform-speculative risk” recommendation. Hypercom does not endorse or adopt any of the opinions, estimates, forecasts, conclusions or recommendations expressed by analysts. The information obtained in any report presented by analysts, expresses the views of the analysts, not Hypercom. Hypercom Corporation is a leading global provider of electronic payment solutions that add value at the point-of-transaction for consumers, merchants and acquirers, and yield increased profitability for its customers.

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The Annual March Break Lifts Apparel Sales Significantly

Quebec’s annual “March Break” produced a 23% lift in apparel sales and spending at children and infant-wear stores increased 43%. The findings are based on credit and debit card transactions tracked by Moneris for February 21st to March 7th. The annual “March Break” also had a significant impact on the Quebec travel industry:spending at car rental agencies jumped 19%; business at gas and convenience service stations increased 5%; and hotel bookings rose 4%. Other retail categories that experienced a significant increase in their business during March Break include: book stores up 14%; photofinishing labs up 12%; hardware stores up 12%; furniture stores up 10%; music stores up 6%; cosmetic stores up 6%; and, the retail category as a whole increased 4%.

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Capital One Terminates an Outsourcer in India

London-based Amicus reported this week that Capital One terminated its telemarketing contract with Wipro Spectramind, India’s largest call center operator, after the staff offered US customers unauthorized credit limits. Capital One indicated there were problems with one vendor over its standards. The Financial Times reported that 30 employees were terminated as a result of the contract breach. About 600 Wipro Spectramind employees were reportedly involved with the Capital One contract. Amicus says the move by Capital One is the latest in a line of companies with outsourcing problems. Other include Littlewoods, Dell and Lehman Bros. Amicus says there are increasing fears around the safety of data being processed in India after the Evening Standard reported that criminal gangs are bribing Indian staff with a years wage to steal credit data from UK customers. Amicus says several unions have come recently together to launch an independent commission of inquiry into offshoring work in the financial services sector.

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FTC Nails a Debt Buyer Over FDCPA Violations

Debt buyer, Capital Acquisitions and Management Corp. and its subsidiary, RM Financial Services, has been ordered to pay a $300,000 civil penalty over violations of the “Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.” The FTC says most of the debts purchased by CAMCO were unenforceable in court and so old that they are beyond the reporting periods allowed under the “Fair Credit Reporting Act”. Some of the debts CAMCO allegedly attempted to collect were already discharged in bankruptcy or had been paid. The FTC charged that in their attempt to collect these debts, the companies engaged in abusive and deceptive collection practices. The FTC says the firms used obscene or profane language, misrepresented themselves as attorneys, and threatened imprisonment, seizure, garnishment, attachment or sale of property or wages, among other practices.

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McDonald’s Finally Takes Cards Seriously

McDonald’s announced it will more than double the number of its restaurants that accept payment cards by year-end. More than $25 billion of QSR spending is expected to be captured this year on payment cards as acceptance rapidly accelerates within the fast food industry. McDonald’s says it is planning to have more than 6,000 U.S. restaurants equipped to take VISA, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express cards by 2005. Besides credit cards, McDonald’s is taking PIN and signature debit cards. VISA recently reported that consumers used “VISA Check Cards” to spend $4.6 billion in quick service restaurants last year. During 2003, Americans charged an estimated $13 billion worth of fast food to their credit and debit cards, compared to $6.1 billion in 2002, and $3.7 billion in 2001. The figure is projected to double again this year as card acceptance among U.S. QSRs is expected to rise from 10% to 25%. Wendy’s currently has about 70% of its domestic restaurants accepting payment cards. Americans spend about $140 billion per year in QSRs. VISA, which has led the charge into fast food, found that the average payment card purchase runs about 30% higher than cash purchases in quick service restaurants. McDonald’s has 31,000 restaurants worldwide.

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RDM Released ITMS v1.4 a Web-Based Payments Processing System

Ontario-based RDM Corporation has released its newest version of ITMS, RDM’s “Image and Transaction Management System.” “ITMS” is a Web-based payments processing system that facilitates the electronic deposit and settlement of payments received by paper cheque. It provides billers and financial institutions with a complete payment platform that allows them to take advantage of the efficiencies and cost
savings of ECC for both point-of-purchase and accounts receivable conversion payments. “Version 1.4 of ITMS” gives customers enhanced capability for processing check. Features of the new version include; enhancements to the administrative center allowing easier access to add and edit users of the system, as well as enhanced settlement options for file transfers.

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Welcome XLS Now Supports VS3 Cards

Welcome announced that its smart transaction software now supports cards equipped with “Visa Smart Secure Storage” to access loyalty points, coupons, special promotions and other data stored in a chip card’s memory.
“XLS” already supports the existing proprietary data management methods built into cards including the lowest cost EMV cards as well as dynamic “GlobalPlatform” compliant multi-application smart cards. The new “VS3”-based cards will be able to coexist with “XLS”-based cards, providing a seamless migration during the transition. “VISA Smart Secure Storage” is designed to allow multiple programs to access and share data without requiring a distinct applet for each individual applicsation. Use of a single applet simplifies applet management for card issuers. For example, when Visa Smart Secure Storage is pre-loaded on cards, there is no need to invest in systems that manage the dynamic addition and deletion of multiple applets on cards.

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Capital One Reportedly Terminates Telephone Outsourcing Contract

London-based Amicus reports that Capital One has terminated its contract with Wipro Spectramind, India’s largest call center operator, after the staff offered US customers unauthorized credit limits. The Company says the move is the latest in a line of companies deserting India including Littlewoods, Dell and Lehman Bros. There are increasing fears around the safety of data being processed in India after the Evening Standard reported that criminal gangs are bribing Indian staff with a years wage to steal credit data from UK customers. Amicus says several unions have come recently together to launch an independent
commission of inquiry into offshoring.

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BB&T Extends its TSYS Processing Contract

TSYS and BB&T have extended their card processing relationship, which began in 1997, for another three years. Under the terms of the agreement, both companies, which are wholly-owned subsidiaries of Winston-Salem, N.C.-based BB&T Corporation, will utilize the TSYS credit, debit and commercial platforms, including TSYS’ subsidiary ProCard, which will provide technology support and services for BB&T’s commercial card accounts. BB&T Corporation and its subsidiaries offer full-service commercial and retail banking and additional financial services such as insurance, investments, retail brokerage, corporate finance, international banking, leasing and trust. TSYS (NYSE: TSS) (www.tsys.com) brings integrity and innovation to the world of electronic payment services as the integral link between buyers and sellers in this rapidly evolving universe.

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