Westmont Hospitality Group Selects Moneris Solutions for Long-Term Processing Contract

Westmont Hospitality Group has selected Moneris Solutions Corporation for a new long-term contract to supply payment processing for its hotel portfolio. Westmont manages 157 properties and more than 19,000 guest rooms operated under internationally recognized franchise brands such as Comfort Inn, Travelodge, Quality Hotel/Suites, Delta, Hilton, Radisson, Best Western and Holiday Inn. Moneris processed more than 1.9 billion card transactions in 2003.

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FTC Receives Cash Settlement from CMS

The FTC has received $23.5 million from the forced sale of assets of Texas-based Certified Merchant Services. The sale was part of a stipulated final judgment and order which also permanently bars the CMS and its principals from falsifying merchants’ signatures; altering or adding to signed documents relating to merchant accounts; certain billing and debiting practices; and misrepresenting the savings that merchants would achieve by doing business with CMS. The stipulated final judgment and order settled the FTC’s first-ever complaint against an ISO for practices related to the marketing of credit- and debit-card merchant accounts to small businesses nationwide. In October, Fort Worth, TX-based First American Payment Systems acquired the assets and merchant agreements of CMS. CMS also did business under the names Transaction Merchant Services, Transaction Merchant Services.Com, and Electrocheck. (CF Library 1/3/03; 10/27/03)

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Diebold Names Investor Relations Head

Diebold has promoted John Kristoff to VP/Investor Relations to replace part of the retiring Donald Eagon’s job. Kristoff will be responsible for communicating Diebold’s business strategies and financial performance to the investment community, as well as serving as the primary contact for shareholders and analysts. Kristoff began his career with Diebold in 1990 in the company’s public relations group and has served in a variety of management positions within the communications and investor relations areas, most recently as director of investor relations and global communications. Diebold, Incorporated is a global leader in providing integrated self- service delivery systems, security solutions and services.

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People’s Back in the Profit Saddle Again

Bridgeport, CT-based People’s Bank reported a second consecutive profitable quarter for its Credit Card Services business as average managed credit card receivables increased 12% while delinquencies and charge-offs declined sharply. Average managed card loans for the fourth quarter increased by $348 million to $2.297 billion, representing or 12% increase over 4Q/02, but a 3%, or $65 million decrease, from the previous quarter. Net charge-offs for the quarter were 3.47%, compared to 3.79% for 3Q/03, and 5.26% for 4Q/02. Net charge-offs totaled $29 million in 4Q/03, $31 million in 3Q/03, and $39 million in 4Q/02. Delinquencies, as a percentage of quarter-end managed loans, were 2.18%, compared to 2.15% for 3Q/03, and 3.41% for 4Q/02. The yield on average managed credit card receivables was 7.43% for 4Q/03, compared to 7.22% for 3Q/03 and 10.55% for 4Q/02. For complete details on People’s Bank fourth quarter results visit CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]).

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

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MasterIndex Shows the Economies of Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam as Highly Positive

Consumer sentiment in the Asia/Pacific region has rebounded significantly from its depressed levels of June last year during the SARS outbreak. Hong Kong, Australia, Singapore and Taiwan have shown the most improvement. Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam topped the list of highly positive markets. Indonesia, Korea, the Philippines and Japan have a pessimistic view of the six months ahead. Consumer confidence in China has rebounded (83.7) having fallen off sharply with its previous MasterIndex score of 68.0, which was at its lowest level since the Asian economic crisis in 1997. Chinese consumers’ expectations of all five economic variables are highly positive, particularly with regard to the economy (96.3), quality of life (95.8) and regular income (90.4). In line with the last four “MasterIndex” reports, their view on the stock market (63.5) remains relatively subdued, although still optimistic. China’s three major urban centers have followed suit. Shanghai (86.0) continues to be slightly more hopeful than Beijing (84.6) and Guangzhou (80.1). MasterCard’s “MasterIndex of Consumer Confidence” survey has an 11-year track record of consumer confidence indices collected from more than 100,000 interviews.

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FleetBoston Cards Up 14% From 3Q/03

FleetBoston reported Thursday that credit card outstandings for the fourth quarter jumped by $2.1 billion due primarily to its recent acquisition of the Circuit City portfolio. For the final quarter of 2003, Fleet posted $16.9 billion in card outstandings compared to $14.8 billion for the previous quarter. However, compared to one year ago, Fleet is up only $800 million. Prior to the Circuit City acquisition, Fleet experienced a decline in card loans due to portfolio sales, lower balance transfers, and a decline in cash advances. For the fourth quarter, the delinquency rate declined to 3.73% compared to 3.94% for 3Q/03, and compared to 4.12% one year ago. Charge-offs for the fourth quarter dropped to 6.31% compared to 6.77% in the prior quarter, but higher than 5.16% reported one year ago. Fleet has about 11 million accounts. Fleet completed its purchase of the Circuit City portfolio on November 18th. For complete details on FleetBoston’s fourth quarter results visit CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]).

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

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MasterCard Adds EZStub to Payroll Cards

MasterCard has teamed with National Payment Corporation to deliver a complete range of value-added electronic pay stub solutions. Companies using the “MasterCard Payroll Card” will now be able to replace traditional paper pay stubs with an efficient, electronic payment solution. Through an automated self-service option, employees may access their “EZStub” via their employers’ Intranet or Web site. National Payment maintains pay information for up to two years. The average cost of an e-stub solution is $0.15 per advice vs $1.20 for a paper based statement. Additionally, companies eliminate costs associated with paper checks, including distribution (average of $1.90) and paper advice cost of $1.19, for a total potential savings of up to $100/year per employee. The new alliance represents an expansion of the MasterCard “WorkPlace Solutions” program.

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Community Banks Bash Large Mergers

The nation’s community banks warned yesterday that large bank mergers are challenging the ability of the regulatory system to effectively regulate banks. The ICBA also said these banks will be too big to fail and therefore will pose a systemic risk to the FDIC’s “Bank Insurance Fund.” The trade association said the largest banks will attempt to amend the “Riegle-Neal Interstate Banking and Branching Efficiency Act” which prohibits a bank merger if the resulting bank would control more than 10% of the deposits in the USA. The ICBA testified yesterday in regard to the BofA/Fleet merger before the Federal Reserve. The ICBA says the evidence shows that increased concentration in the banking industry has not benefited bank customers and has not had a positive effect on the convenience and needs of the communities served by the acquired banks.

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Paymentech STV Volume Up 230% in 2003

Dallas-based Paymentech this week reported that its “FlexCache” stored value card transactions rose 230% last year. Gift cards continue to be the gift of choice for many consumers, as more than half of all respondents to a consumer survey conducted by Paymentech in October 2003 said they planned to give at least one gift card during the 2003 holiday season. Paymentech marked an 80 percent increase in merchant locations that are using FlexCache between 2002 and 2003. 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.

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Mid-Size Portfolios Post Strong 4Q/03 Gains

Mid-sized credit card issuers produced above average performance in outstandings during the fourth quarter. Wells Fargo Financial and Associated Card Services led the increase with a 17% gain in receivables compared to one-year ago. Overall, the five issuers representing a sample of the middle market, produced an average gain of 12%, or about twice the industry average. The five issuers had aggregate outstandings of $3.3 billion, according to CardData (www.carddata.com).

4Q/03 PORTFOLIOS
ISSUER RECV Y/Y CHNG
Wells Fargo Financial* $1,342,149,879 +17.0%
Associated Card Srvcs 930,294,855 +16.6%
Compass Bank 481,185,823 + 4.5%
SouthTrust 349,375,639 NC
Columbus B&T 225,113,234 +4.3%
TOTAL: $3,328,119,430 +12.0%
* does not include Wells Fargo Card Services
Source: CardData (www.carddata.com)

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RCBC Adopts Verified by VISA for its Internet Remittance Service

Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation has launched the first Internet remittance service in the world to adopt VISA’s global Internet authentication service. “Telemoney Direct” is also the Philippines’ first “Verified by Visa”-enabled Web site. The service enables consumers to send funds via the Internet and to have the funds instantly credited to the beneficiary’s RCBC deposit account. RCBC says they are confident that “Telemoney Direct” will become the preeminent platform for delivering remittance services to the seven million Filipinos in over 100 countries today. In Asia Pacific, VISA has 198 million VISA-branded cards in the region. During the twelve months ended September 30th, US$428 billion was spent at point of sale or withdrawn from ATMs in Asia Pacific using VISA cards.

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