Holiday VISA Retail Volume Still Up 9%

VISA USA reported this morning that retail spending on VISA cards last week continued to run about 9% above last year. For Thanksgiving week, VISA data show spending in discount stores was up nearly 10%, while department store spending was up 4.8%. Total VISA volume for the week ending November 30th was up 13.3%, to more than $19.7 billion. Overall retail spending volume on VISA cards was $8.3 billion for the Thanksgiving week. Debit card retail spending was $3.0 billion for the week, a 16% jump over the same year-ago period. Credit card retail spending was up 5% to $5.2 billion. VISA noted that the peak shopping day was Friday, November 28th with VISA volume topping $3.6 billion, compared to $3.1 billion for the pre-Thanksgiving week. VISA reports that spending in the e-commerce channel was up 47% to about $1.5 billion. VISA also noted that the average ticket price for retail credit card transactions was up 3% to $86.18.

VISA VOLUME
(Week Ending 11/30/03)
Personal T&E $1.2 billion +14%
Home & Garden $1.4 billion +12%
Speciality Stores $1.3 billion +11%
Discount Stores $1.3 billion +10%
Department Stores $3.2 billion +5%
Source: VISA SpendTrak

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On Track Innovations Sees Flattening of Revenues in Q3

On Track Innovations reported that revenues for the third quarter were $4.1 million, compared to $4.4 million for the third quarter of 2002. The decline was primarily due to the delayed execution of several projects. Gross profit for the third quarter was $1.5 million versus $2.3 million in the third quarter last year. The third quarter net loss was $1.72 million which included $1.15 million non-cash charges.
During the third quarter, the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District chose OTI to provide “ISO 14443” compliant contactless solutions for use in BART’s SFO Airline Employee Discount Program. OTI also formed a strategic alliance with Scheidt & Bachmann to provide contactless payment solutions. More recently, OTI announced the entry of its “EasyFuel” petroleum payment solution into both Mexico and the European market, starting with Spain.

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Napster Card Snags Another Major Distributor

Roxio’s new Napster prepaid music card has picked up another major distribution channel putting it well on its way to hit 20,000 locations by year’s end. TX-based RadioShack will now distribute the “Napster Music Card” in its 7,000 outlets nationwide. At its launch in late October, Roxio has signed up Best Buy, CompUSA, Kroger, Safeway, RiteAid, ExxonMobil, Duane Reade, Diamond Shamrock and Speedway/SuperAmerica as distributors. The card was developed in partnership with InComm and offers 15 downloads for $14.85. A scratch-off surface conceals a PIN that recipients use to activate the credits for permanent downloads from the Napster service. The Company also announced yesterday it is offering a free trial of its premium service and has launched the “Napster Burnpak” which allows music fans to produce their own CDs, complete with custom labels, and add music to their photos and videos. Napster offers access to the largest catalog of online music with more than 500,000 tracks spanning all genres and artists. (CF Library 10/27/03)

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FDC Renews NEBA for Five More Years

The New England Bankcard Association has renewed the processing contract for its 500,000 cards with First Data for five more years. First Data will provide card processing and other portfolio management services for NEBA’s nearly one-half million credit, debit and commercial card accounts on file, as well as merchant processing services for its merchant acquiring members. First Data has provided credit card processing services to NEBA since 1981. New England Bankcard Association was founded in 1969 and provides a wide range of payment system products and services to financial institutions throughout the eastern United States. First Data serves approximately 3 million merchant locations, 1,400 card issuers and millions of consumers, making it easy, fast and secure for people and businesses to buy goods and services using virtually any form of payment.

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EZIPIN & KEYCORP

Electronic recharge solutions provider Ezipin has entered the Canadian market using Keycorp “K23” terminals to deliver prepaid communications products at the POS. Ezipin retail customers around Australia have installed approximately 3,400 Keycorp “K23” terminals. Ezipin has launched its service in Canada and has licensed its IP and business processes for the electronic distribution service in China. In Canada, Ezipin has initially ordered 500 “K23” terminals to enable retailers to sell prepaid mobile phone top-ups, long distance telephone PINs and other prepaid services across the counter. Ezipin customers can use the “K23” as a dedicated recharge terminal or combined with a debit/credit application for electronic payments, including cash back, surcharging and tipping.

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Best Western Travel Card Offers Holiday Incentives

Best Western has launched a holiday promotion for its “Best Western Travel Card,” offering 250 miles for every $50 purchased on the card, 250 bonus miles for spending $500 or more, and, a double mile bonus if the purchase is made with a MasterCard card. The card can be personalized and given as a gift to cover hotel charges at more than 4,100 Best Western hotels worldwide and the sender can earn frequent flyer miles for the purchase of the card. The card is available for purchase or reloading online at travelcard.bestwestern.com , at Best Western hotels, through participating travel agents or by calling 877-CARD-2TVL in the United States, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean. Best Western is THE WORLD’S LARGEST HOTEL CHAIN(R) and has operating hotels in over 80 countries and territories.

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MAESTRO MIGRATION

Dual-branded “Switch” debit cards topped 10 million cards this week. The country’s leading debit card is in the process of migrating its 24 million “Switch” cards to the “Maestro” global debit brand by 2007. The dual-branded “Switch” cards carry both the “Switch” and “Maestro” logos on the front of the card. The “Maestro” logo previously appeared on the back of “Switch” cards. To support the migration to “Maestro,” Switch launched an GBP8 million television and outdoor advertising campaign in September. The 12-month campaign sees Switch back on television for the first time in 10 years, and has introduced the UK to the new “Switch/Maestro” penguins, created specially for the campaign, to educate cardholders of the benefits of “Maestro” when travelling. Switch reports that more than 19 million debit card transactions were made abroad in the nine months to September, up 22% on 2002. For the whole of last year some 20 million “Switch/Maestro” transactions were undertaken outside the UK, compared to 6 million five years ago. The “Maestro” brand mark now appears on 466 million cards worldwide and is accepted for purchases at over seven million merchant terminals in 93 countries and territories.

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FreedomPay Lands Inova Health System

Northern Virginia’s Inova Health System has deployed the “FreedomPay” cashless payment and loyalty solution at their hospital facilities, that includes 13,000 employees. Employee dining and vending facilities will now offer FreedomPay’s “tap and go” cashless payment and loyalty solution. National brands participating at Inova Health System include; Pizza Hut, Blimpies, Coca Cola and Starbucks Coffee. Inova Health System joins a growing list of leading hospitals, Fortune 1000 corporations, universities, the Government and Military who are experiencing the benefits of cashless retail environments. Inova Health System is a not-for-profit health care system based in Northern Virginia that consists of hospitals and other health services including emergency and urgent care centers, home care, nursing homes, mental health and blood donor services and wellness classes. FreedomPay, Inc. is the world leader in business process outsourcing to the nation’s largest hospitality food service providers, Fortune 1000 corporations, healthcare facilities, universities, sports and entertainment, and the military delivering a global infrastructure for world class payment, loyalty and settlement services.

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Payment Data Systems and ACH Commerce Ink a Deal

ACH Commerce has signed a reseller/referral agreement for Payment Data Systems’ credit card gateway and merchant services. These agreements define the ability of ACH Commerce to promote and deliver our extensive set of Credit Card products and services into their ACH customer base of banks, billers, and retail merchants. Under the terms of the agreement, Payment Data will further add an extensive sales and market opportunity with no additional expense overhead through the deployment of these contracts. ACH Commerce, LLC is a leading ACH processing company that provides outsourcing services for financial institutions and a full array of ACH services to corporations. ACH Commerce, LLC is a leading ACH processing company that provides outsourcing services for financial institutions and a full array of ACH services to corporations.

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Credit Cards Under Consumers’ Skin?

FL-based Applied Digital Solutions has introduced “VeriPay,” a subdermal RFID solution providing cutting-edge payment technology for cash and credit transactions. “VeriPay” is based on the Company’s “VeriChip” which is about the size of a grain of rice. ADS says that embedding the payment technology under the skin offers a much more secure, tamper-proof, and loss-proof solution. The standard location of the microchip is in the triceps area between the elbow and the shoulder of the right arm. The brief outpatient “chipping” procedure lasts just a few minutes and involves only local anesthetic followed by quick, painless insertion of the “VeriChip.” Once inserted just under the skin, the “VeriChip” is inconspicuous to the naked eye. A small amount of radio frequency energy passes from the scanner energizing the dormant “VeriChip,” which then emits a radio frequency signal transmitting the verification number.

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MultiMediaCard Association Names New President

The MultiMediaCard Association has elected Juergen Hammerschmitt, VP for Business Development at Infineon Technologies Flash, as its president. Hammerschmitt is also vice president for Business Development at Infineon Technologies Flash, a member company of the MMCA Board. MultiMediaCards are the small, removable solid-state memory cards designed especially for mobile phones and digital imaging, among other applications. These convenient, reliable, rugged and lightweight standardized data carriers store up to 1 Gbyte, or approximately 640,000 book pages. The MMCA is the open standard memory card organization, promoting worldwide adoption of a postage-stamp size, removable storage card designed especially for mobile phones and digital imaging.

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