Consumers Say Prepaid Cards Give Spending Control

The “6th Annual Coinstar National Currency Poll” has found that 32% of respondents said they have used prepaid cash cards for purchases and transactions, with 34% citing spending control as a reason why they prefer this form of payment, and, 19% felt prepaid cards were good for teens. or the millions of consumers that use prepaid debit and wireless/cellular services, a new, ultra-convenient option for replenishing prepaid accounts can be found at a place the average American visits 2.2 times per week — the supermarket. Over the past decade, Coinstar Inc. developed a multi-million dollar business by mainstreaming consumer coin-counting services at more than 10,000 supermarkets nationwide. Coinstar uses technology to deliver time and money saving services to consumers in their local supermarkets. Coinstar’s network of more than 10,000 machines is currently available to 160 million consumers in 48 states and the District of Columbia, as well as in Canada and the United Kingdom.

Details

MBNA-AmEx Deal Provokes VISA and MasterCard Comment

Yesterday’s blockbuster announcement that MBNA plans to issue American Express cards by year-end, produced a measured response by VISA and MasterCard. MasterCard said the announcement presumes that the Supreme Court will not overturn the lower court decision on MasterCard’s “Competitive Programs Policy.” MasterCard noted that American Express’ smaller acceptance network, and higher fees to merchants for acceptance, would benefit only American Express, and not consumers. VISA said that unlike American Express, VISA is a bank-governed payment association that partners with, rather than competes against issuers. VISA noted it values its relationship with MBNA and will continue to vigorously compete for their business. While the Second U.S. Circuit of Appeals unanimously rejected VISA’s and MasterCard’s request for a review of the lower court’s October 2001 decision, the stay has not been lifted. However, the DOJ is requesting the immediate lifting of the stay, even though VISA and MasterCard are heading to the Supreme Court to request a review of the lower court decision. VISA and MasterCard say the core issue is how joint ventures are treated under the antitrust laws. In October 2001, U.S. District Court Judge Barbara S. Jones’ ruled that VISA’s bylaw “210(e)” and MasterCard’s “Competitive Programs Policy” violated the “Sherman Antitrust Act.” (CF Library 10/10/01; 1/29/04)

Details

Prestige International Opens Concierge Services to Employers

Japan’s Prestige International, a provider of concierge services to MasterCard and other card issuers, has launched its concierge service to the corporate sector as an employee benefit and retention tool. Concierge as an employee loyalty tool is an extension of Prestige’s existing business model, to provide concierge as a customer loyalty tool to banks and credit card companies. Prestige International offers value-added call center and enhancement services to almost 100 multinational corporations, including Mastercard International, J.Crew and Cartier. Its concierge service is available to millions of consumers worldwide.

Details

Maurices Becomes the First AccessExpense Client

U.S. Bank Corporate Payment Systems and Concur Technologies this week confirmed they have signed their first client for the “AccessExpense” travel and entertainment expense management solution, namely, Maurices, Inc. By leveraging the expertise of U.S. Bank and Concur Technologies, customers receive a corporate travel card from the world’s largest bank issuer, and the business service expertise of Concur Technologies, the global leader in expense management. Concur Technologies, Inc. is the world’s leading provider of Corporate Expense Management solutions, servicing thousands of companies worldwide. U.S. Bancorp is the 8th largest financial services holding company in the United States. The company operates 2,243 banking offices and 4,425 ATMs, and provides a comprehensive line of banking, brokerage, insurance, investment, mortgage, trust and payment services products to consumers, businesses and institutions.

Details

Bankruptcy Reform Shows New Life in U.S. House

The U.S. House voted this week to combine its previously passed bankruptcy reform bill with a Senate-passed bill providing bankruptcy relief to family farmers. The move was designed to get the Senate to pass the House version of bankruptcy reform and thus move the “Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act” to conference with the Senate. However, Senate Democrats say they will not accept the bill unless it has a provision to ban abortion protesters from using bankruptcy to avoid paying court fines for blocking clinics if they knowingly violated the law. The House passed the combined bill by a 265-99 on Wednesday.

Details

Rewards Network Revenues Up But Profit Slips Downward

Chicago-based Rewards Network reported fourth quarter sales of $89.2 million, an increase of 4.3% over 4Q/02. Net income for the quarter was $3.9 million compared to $4.7 million one-year ago. The Company closed the quarter with 3.4 million active members and approximately 17,800 total participating merchants, including 10,836 restaurants and 6,937 hotels. The Company provides loyalty and rewards programs for restaurants and hotels via its registered credit card platform. Rewards Network says it is targeting growth in total operating revenue of 13% to 18%, and growth in net income of 10% to 15%. For complete details on Rewards Network’s fourth quarter performance visit CardData (www.carddata.com).

Details

APTUS Sales Quadruple as ATM Network Tops 1,000 Terminals

Portland, OR-based APTUS Financial, an ATM service provider, reported that its sales grew four-fold last year to $5.2 million, and that its network grew to 1,104 ATM terminals. APTUS develops and implements advanced ATM services to accompany basic ATM functions. ATUS offered several new advanced function products in 2003, including prepaid wireless, payroll, bill payment and money transfer applications. APTUS Financial is an ATM service provider dedicated to developing and delivering advanced ATM functions to the financial and retail industries.

Details

Alliance Data Systems Q4 Profits Double

Alliance Data Systems reported that fourth quarter net income hit $19.8 million, nearly double the profits posted in 4Q/02, as revenues climbed 27% over the year-ago period. Transaction Services revenue, accounting for more than half of the Company’s total revenue, increased 18% in 4Q/03 to $167.9 million compared to prior year. The vast majority of this segment consists of Alliance’s private label and utility services businesses, two of Alliance’s main growth engines. Both of these engines are benefiting from core client growth plus new client signings during 2003. These factors led to a more than 20% increase in the number of statements generated, while revenue per statement remained firm. Credit Services revenue increased 24% in the fourth quarter to $121.6 million. Both private label credit sales and portfolio growth grew at double-digit rates. Marketing Services revenue increased 43% in the fourth quarter to $87.5 million compared to prior year. The strong growth in revenue was driven by the segment’s two key business drivers: “AIR MILES” reward miles issued, which increased 6%, and “AIR MILES” reward miles redeemed, which increased 36%. For complete details on ADS’ fourth quarter performance visit CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]).

[1]: http://www.carddata.com

Details

Color Shift Smart Card Comes to Asia via ORGA and PPP

ORGA and Perfect Plastic Printing have teamed to deliver Asia’s first color shift smart card to Malaysia’s Public Bank. The innovative card is made of a translucent plastic, and changes colors when the angle of the card is tilted. The “Public Bank Executive MasterCard” is using the theme “Color Your Life Executive” to promote the card. The card utilizes the “M/Chip” smart card platform. The Public Bank card was also recognized by the International Card Manufacturer’s Association at the “7th Annual Elan Awards” for card manufacturing excellence. The card won under the category of “Best Financial Card Design.” ORGA is headquartered in Paderborn, Germany. Perfect Plastic Printing is based in St. Charles, Illinois.

Details

Diebold Q4 Profits Up 170% Over Q4/02

Diebold reported record fourth quarter revenue of $648.4 million, a 23.3% gain over the fourth quarter 2002. Net income in the fourth quarter was $59.2 million, an increase of 170% over the fourth quarter 2002. The prior-year fourth quarter results included an after-tax charge of $26.5 million related to an IRS dispute. Total financial self-service revenue grew by 19.3%, led by a product revenue increase of 26.2%. During the fourth quarter, Diebold landed total “Opteva” ATM orders in excess of $40 million, including “Opteva” orders from three major financial institutions in North America totaling $11.6 million. Diebold also received orders from two banks in China totaling $18.9 million, an order for financial self-service equipment from a bank in Brazil totaling $15.2 million, and, four significant orders in Europe for financial self-service, including “Opteva,” totaling approximately $7.8 million. For complete details on Diebold’s fourth quarter performance visit CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]).

[1]: http://www.carddata.com

Details

Synovus Licenses ATM Manager Pro

MA-based e-ClassicSystems announced that Synovus has licensed its “ATM Manager Pro” solution. The ATM Manager Pro solution will then utilize the information to automatically calculate the revenue and costs for each terminal for every month. This level of detail will enable Synovus to better evaluate profitability and customer value and aid in future placement. e-ClassicSystems, Inc. is a premier provider of software solutions to organizations that deploy or manage ATMs. Synovus is a diversified financial services holding company with more than $22 billion in assets based in Columbus, Ga.

Details

Certegy Produces a Small Gain in 4Q/03

Atlanta-based card processor, Certegy, reported 4Q/03 net income of $30.9 million. a $1.9 million increase over the same quarter a year ago. Fourth quarter revenue increased 3.4% to $272.1 million. Card Services generated revenue of $162.9 million in the quarter, 0.4% below the 2002 quarter. Strong revenue growth of 10.7% in the Company’s North American card issuing operation was offset by declines in South American card issuing and domestic merchant processing revenue. Card Services operating income of $39.9 million increased $1.0 million, or 2.5%,compared to $38.9 million in the fourth quarter of 2002. Check Services generated revenue of $109.2 million in the fourth quarter, an increase of 9.5% over the 2002 quarter, driven by new customer signings, migration of verification volume to guarantee volume, and modest improvement in retail sales. Certegy’s global card base increased to 46.4 million at year-end. Domestic card issuing transaction volumes increased by 9.2% over the prior-year quarter, driven primarily by 17.6% growth in debit card transactions. For complete details on Certegy’s fourth quarter performance visit CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]).

[1]: http://www.carddata.com

Details