MBNA AMEX CARDS

MBNA is planning to issue American Express-branded credit cards in the U.K. as well as Canada and Spain this year. In addition, MBNA plans to offer AmEx credit cards in the USA pending resolution of legal issues involving VISA and MasterCard. Like other AmEx partners, MBNA will not offer “Membership Rewards” on its AmEx cards. MBNA says the new AmEx credit card products will be marketed to MBNA’s qualified existing customers and new prospects. In the last several years American Express’ Global Network Services has developed close to 80 card-issuing relationships in more than 80 countries outside the USA. MBNA’s international credit card portfolio has grown 73% over the past twelve months to hit $20.8 billion. During the fourth quarter, MBNA added 620,000 new international accounts, and $1.6 billion in outstandings. American Express says its Global Network Services has produced more than 350 different card products through independent operator, joint venture, and non-proprietary license agreements outside the USA. GNS partners have added 6.4 million cards to the American Express network, and more than 2.5 million new merchant establishments. AmEx says that since 1999, cards-in-force issued by GNS partners outside the USA, have grown at a CAGR of 24%. Card spending has grown at a compounded annual rate of 16% and totaled more than $12 billion in 2003. At the end of last year, one out of every five new AmEx-branded cards acquired worldwide was issued by a GNS partner, and outside of the USA, one out of every three new cards acquired was a GNS card. GNS partners were also responsible for nearly one out of every three new merchants acquired to the network worldwide.

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SPDB VISA

Shanghai Pudong Development Bank and Citibank officially launched their first international credit card that can be settled both in renminbi and US dollars. The card will initially be available to residents of Shanghai, aged 21 and above, with an annual income of 50,000 RMB or US$6,000. SPDB says it will expand the issuance of the new card nationwide later this year. The new “SPDB VISA” is available in a “Classic” or “Gold” version. The “SPDB VISA Gold” includes “Citibank World Privileges” offering 15,000 discounts and benefits. Late last year, Citibank and HSBC were approved by banking regulators to issue local-currency denominated credit cards in China. HSBC launched a VISA card through Bank of Shanghai last month. The Chinese government also lifted the cap on foreign ownership of local banks from 15% to 20%.
There are 614 million debit cards and 25 million credit cards in the country. VISA has 300,000 acceptance locations in China. SPDB has 290 branches across 30 cities.

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Postilion Drives Chicago’s First American Bank ATMs

Chicago-based First American Bank has chosen Mosaic’s “Postilion” software to provide ATM driving, as well as transaction switching and routing, for their network of 250 ATMs. The Mosaic solution will be running under a Linux partition on their iSeries AS400 HA utilizing DB2. The Postilion system will have an interface to their OS/400 banking system, Jack Henry & Associate’s SilverLake application, for on-us transaction processing and will route foreign transactions directly to the networks. First American is an Illinois-chartered, full-service bank with 34 Chicago area locations and more than $2 billion in assets. Mosaic Software is a global EFT software company with offices in the United States, the United Kingdom, South Africa, and Australia.

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Shell New Zealand Offers e-pay’s Electronic Top-Up Services

Euronet’s e-pay has launched its electronic top-up services at approximately 240 Shell Select convenience store and petrol sites. Vodafone has an agreement with e-pay to enable its customers to purchase prepaid airtime at Shell and other participating retailers. Upon completion this agreement, New Zealanders will have direct access to top-up their Vodafone prepaid mobile phones at more than 600 locations throughout the nation. Shell New Zealand Ltd is the third major oil company to join e-pay’s New Zealand prepaid network. e-pay, a Euronet subsidiary, is the largest electronic payments processor of prepaid mobile airtime top-up services in the U.K. and Australia. The company currently supports top-up purchases for mobile service providers at more than 74,000 POS terminals in approximately 29,000 retail locations.

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HSBC Holdings Deploys Norkom’s Alchemist Risk Management Software

London-based HSBC Holdings is deploying Norkom Technologies’ “Alchemist Risk Management” software application to improve their defenses against all types of risk including credit and debit card fraud, money laundering, operational risk and other types of financial crime.The “Alchemist” platform uses sophisticated data mining techniques and applies advanced analysis to generate new insights about customers, products, employees, channels or partners. It then automates the process of sharing and managing that knowledge to key decision makers and action takers across the organization. Norkom Alchemist provides intelligence to the right people and processes providing the vital link between analysis and action. HSBC’s international network has more than 9,500 offices in 79 countries.

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Some Issuers Tightened Underwriting in 4Q/03

The Federal Reserve’s “January 2004 Senior Loan Officer Opinion Survey on Bank Lending Practices” says it found that a moderate fraction of banks reported that they had decreased the extent to which credit card accounts are granted to customers who do not meet credit-scoring thresholds. Moderate net fractions of both domestic banks and U.S. branches and agencies of foreign banks indicated that they had eased lending standards and several lending terms on C&I loans over the past three months. Credit demand from households reportedly weakened over the past three months. On net, almost 40 percent of domestic banks indicated that the demand for residential mortgage loans to purchase homes had deteriorated, a significantly greater proportion than in the October survey. However, respondents may find it difficult to separate mortgage originations used to buy homes from those used to refinance existing mortgages, and the pace of refinancing has slowed considerably since the middle of last year.

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JCB Card Promotes Tourism via Sapporo Snow Festival

JCB is continuing to promote travel to Japan and increased inbound sales in conjunction with the “55th Sapporo Snow Festival.” The event runs from February 5th through February 11th in Sapporo City,
Hokkaido. Visitors bringing their JCB card receipts will get one chance in a lottery of assorted prizes for every 10,000 yen in card use through February 11th. The “Snow Festival” campaign follows the JCB Akihabara “10% Cash-Back” campaign. Other premiums include a free gourmet map of Sapporo in Chinese with information on the festival and JCB merchants offering special discounts, and a 5% discount on JCB card purchases at cooperating retailers such as Marui-Imai. All these special benefits are available to any JCB cardholder, from Japan or abroad. JCB has more than 49 million cardholders in 18 countries and territories around the world.

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Fair Isaac Beefs-Up its Recovery-Support Solution

Fair Isaac announced the release of “UniScore 3.0,” a new version of its recovery-support solution that delivers a predictive non-custom recovery score, value-added data and online collection strategy development tools to enhance collection efforts. The new version includes enhanced asset information, employment information, information about deceased accounts, and expanded bankruptcy details. The new version also delivers up to four phone numbers and three addresses, making it easier for collectors to locate debtors. The solution’s unique analytics rank order charged-off accounts based on the expected collection amount, or unit yield, not simply according to probability of payment.

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PinXpress and Kalignite Come Together to Offer Prepaid Services via ATMs

Scotland-based KAL and San Diego-based EWI Prepaid have signed a partnership deal to integrate EWI’s “PinXpress” technology platform with KAL’s “Kalignite” software platform to offer prepaid services via ATMs and kiosks. By integrating EWI’s PinXpress technology platform with KAL’s Kalignite Software Platform, any self-service device from the extensive range supported will be able to process banking transactions plus prepaid transactions including prepaid wireless, prepaid long distance, prepaid utilities, local phone service, prepaid Internet/Wi-Fi, movie tickets, and many more. EWI is a leading global provider of advanced payment processing technologies to the prepaid and cash payments sectors. KAL is the world-leading provider of open software for ATMs and self-service systems.

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Triton Passes 10-Year ATM Milestone

MS-based Triton this week announced it has shipped 100,000 ATMs since 1994. Triton’s first cash-dispensing ATM, the Model 9500, pioneered the use of dial-up transmission technology that ignited the explosive growth of ATMs in off-premise retail settings. Today, off-premise ATMs are found in shopping malls, convenience stores, casinos, and even national parks. Triton is the largest provider of off-premise ATMs and ATM management software in North America and has more than 100,000 installations in over 17 countries worldwide.

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Coinstar Takes FSV e-Payroll Services Nationwide

Coinstar announced plans Wednesday to expand access to FSV Payment Systems’ electronic payroll services from 1,000 “Coinstar Centers” in supermarkets to its 10,000 machine national network. By fall of 2004, FSV expects to have three hundred thousand employees enrolled in payroll debit card programs through their employers. Payroll Debit Cards are growing in popularity, especially among employers with large workforces that may be geographically diverse, have high turnover, or an employee base without access to bank accounts. Coinstar, Inc. owns and operates the only nationwide network of supermarket-based kiosks that offer coin counting and other electronic services. FSV Payment Systems offers a robust suite of unique, host-based stored-value and payroll debit card solutions direct to large employers and to financial institutions through an exclusive agreement with Fiserv, Inc..

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