Lloyds TSB Becomes the First Issuer in Europe to Roll Out MasterCard’s New Premium Collection Cards

Lloyds TSB is rolling-out MasterCard’s “Premium Collection” throughout 2004 that includes premium offerings to “MasterCard Gold,” “MasterCard Platinum” and “World Signia MasterCard” cardholders.
As part of the Lloyds TSB pilot, some 300,000 premium cardholders across the UK were mailed, for a four month period, with exclusive offers from several organizations participating in the MasterCard program.
Lloyds will be the first bank in Europe to roll-out the new generation of MasterCard’s “Global and European Premium Collection.” The “Global Premium MasterCard Collection” aims to help member banks increase their MasterCard premium card customer acquisition rates, boost card activation and usage, and improve customer retention. It has been customized according to an analysis of card spend which revealed MasterCard premium cardholders spend more on travel, entertainment, fashion, cars and home furnishings.

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ReliaCard VISA Disperses Iowa Child Support Payments

U.S. Bank has expanded its “ReliaCard VISA” in the State of Iowa whereby the state disperses child support payments on the prepaid card. The U.S. Bank ReliaCard Visa functions like a debit card though it is not attached to a checking or savings account. Since U.S. Bank introduced this product, which began as a pilot in the states of Washington (DCS Card) and Colorado (Family Support Registry Card) in 2001, it has become a recognized and valued tool used by more than 70,000 customers in multiple states. U.S. Bank operates 15 branches in Des Moines, 102 branch locations and 224 ATMs in Iowa. U.S. Bancorp, with assets of $189 billion, is the 8th largest financial services holding company in the United States.

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FleetBoston to Move Circuit City Cards by June

Circuit City reported this week that the final conversion of its $1.5 billion bankcard portfolio to Fleet Boston will occur in the quarter ending May 31st. The retailer completed the sale of its card portfolio to Fleet on November 18th for $1.3 billion. Circuit City says it anticipates that the sale will result in an after-tax loss of approximately $82 million, including $75 million of adjustments to the carrying value of the company’s retained interest in the bankcard portfolio and approximately $7 million of other costs, including severance and lease termination. (CF Library 11/20/03)

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Advanta Expects 04 Receivables to Grow Up to 20%

Advanta said this morning it expects 2004 managed receivables to grow 10% to 20% and that its earnings for 2004 to be between $1.40 and $1.60 per share. Advanta is a highly focused financial services company serving the small business market. Advanta leverages direct marketing and information based expertise to identify potential customers and new target markets and to provide a high level of service tailored to the unique needs of small business.

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December 26th Could be the New Black Friday

A recent survey indicates that Americans plan to flood stores looking for marked-down items and to use their gift cards after the holidays are over. The “2003 American Express Retail Index” says that December 26th could easily turn out to be the new “Black Friday” for retailers this year. One in three shoppers say they will return gifts after the holiday. Thirty-four percent say they usually return “a few” gifts received during the holidays, while another 2% return “about half” of their gifts. More than a third say they buy something totally different when returning gifts. Among the range of consumer options on returns, nearly three in four shoppers prefer exchanging a gift for a similar item in the post-holiday rush. Half say they will accept store or merchandise credit, 48% will opt for cash back. The survey found that nearly a third of shoppers have regifted at least one or more times. On average, those who do regift have done so three times. Women are more likely to regift than men (60% vs. 40%).

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US Biometrics’ CheckQ” Draws an Award

IL-based US Biometrics has received an award for its “CheckQ” fingerprint recognition system designed for the credit union industry. In addition to CheckQ, US Biometrics offers a suite of products utilizing biometric fingerprint technology to assure accurate authentication and identification of individuals for the financial services, security, corporate, governmental, healthcare, manufacturing, and educational industries. The suite of biometric solutions also includes VaultQ – a more secure alternative to traditional card-and-signature safe-deposit box access; Access – a system that provides businesses a secure and convenient alternative or enhancement to passwords, badges, swipe cards, and PINs to protect against unauthorized access; PassQ – a biometric mouse or stand alone unit requiring fingerprint identity verification to log into individual computers and networks; and Qrl – an application using fingerprint biometrics to secure transactions made over the Internet. US Biometrics designs and deploys a range of biometric technologies for financial, corporate, governmental, healthcare, manufacturing, and educational clients who require absolute authentication of customers and employees.

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AmEx Names New Head of its Government Affairs Office

American Express has hired Arne Christenson, former SVP for Regulatory Policy at Fannie Mae, as SVP/Government Affairs, and head of the company’s Washington, D.C. office. Mr. Christenson most recently served as senior vice president for Regulatory Policy at Fannie Mae. In this role, he managed Fannie Mae’s relationship with federal regulators and developed the company’s policy positions in areas including financial markets, the regulation and governance of financial institutions, and the expansion of affordable housing. American Express Company is a diversified worldwide travel, financial and network services company founded in 1850. It is a world leader in charge and credit cards, Travelers Cheques, travel, financial planning, business services, insurance and international banking.

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Windows ATMs May be Too Open

A new research report says that the migration of ATMs from legacy systems to “Microsoft Windows” environments have made ATM networks susceptible to computer virus attacks. The study also says that although banks have spent millions of dollars implementing network firewalls to prevent unauthorized access from hackers dialing in from home, they surprisingly place ATMs on street corners, bypassing firewalls by connecting those machines directly to the network. The new TowerGroup report notes that while the Windows platform is not inherently less secure than competitive products, it is open to a larger number of users and thus, more open to users that mean to inflict damage through the creation of viruses and other types of attacks. In August 2003, two US banks experienced the first case of a Windows-based virus to ever infect an ATM. TowerGroup suggests that the “clean room” environment used by the semiconductor industry to eliminate contaminants may hold the key to ATM exposure to viruses, worms, exploits and other malicious software.

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Sears Drops Expiration Date from Gift Cards

Starting with cards issued today, Sears is eliminating expiration dates from all its gift cards which formerly carried a two-year time limit. Sears gift cards can be purchased in increments of $5-$500 and can be redeemed at all Sears store locations. Sears, Roebuck and Co. is a leading broadline retailer providing merchandise and related services. With revenues in 2002 of $41.4 billion, the company offers its wide range of home merchandise, apparel and automotive products and services through more than 2,700 Sears-branded and affiliated stores in the U.S. and Canada, including approximately 1,000 full-line stores and 1,600 specialty stores.

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New Government ID Card Places Another LaserCard Order

Rome-based Laser Memory Card SRL has signed a $3.8 million order with the government for “LaserCard” optical memory cards slated for use as Italy’s new national ID card. The new ID card, the “Carta d’Identita Elettronica” will be distributed in phases, starting with 56 cities in 2004. The government previously purchased $2.4 million of “CIE” cards in July. Developed in close cooperation with various agencies of the Italian government, the “CIE” card is a specialized LaserCard optical memory card which contains a 1 megabyte optical memory stripe for security and which is designed so that the Italian government can add a smart chip, currently supplied by Siemens. Laser Memory Card SRL is a value-added reseller for Drexler’s optical memory cards.

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Triton Names TRM Nationwide Service Provider

MS-based Triton, which has an installed base of 60,000 ATMs, has signed an agreement to make TRM the nationwide service provider for Triton’s entire ATM product line. The partnership will provide Triton ATM owners and operators with a comprehensive, single-source installation and maintenance solution with “24×7” service availability. TRM is certified to service all Triton ATM models including the new RL5000 lobby and FT5000 through-the-wall Windows® Intel® XScale™ PC platform ATMs designed especially for financial institutions. TRM Corporation is a consumer services company that has provided convenience banking (ATM) and photocopying solutions to retailers for more than 20 years. Triton is the largest provider of off-premise ATMs and ATM management software in North America and has more than 95,000 installations in over 17 countries worldwide.

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PDS and TransAction Unlimited Sign Referral Agreement

TX-based Payment Data Systems has signed a multi-year referral agreement with TX-based ISO TransAction Unlimited, that is expected to open new merchant accounts that have been previously closed to TU due to not having an ACH offering. Management anticipates new volume of transactions will be added to Payment Data Systems’ growing base of processing traffic and expects additions to its growing sales and marketing force (extending the company’s national reach) without adding corporate expense overhead. Payment Data Systems, Inc., is an Integrated Payments Solution Provider delivering comprehensive, cost-effective solutions to billers and retailers for the processing and management of electronic payments via the Internet, point of sale, or payments taken by Customer Service Representatives or an Interactive Voice Response. TransAction Unlimited is a significant provider of merchant and consumer services across the nation.

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