American Express is spearheading a drive to reopen the Statue of Liberty and is launching a multi-media communications campaign on December 1 to support the effort. AmEx is donating one cent to The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation for every purchase made on its cards between December 1st and the end of January. AmEx says it is also making a direct contribution of $500,000 to the Foundation. Totally, AmEx is guaranteeing it will raise a minimum of $3 million to the effort to make critical safety improvements so that the monument can again be accessible to the public. The Statue has been closed to the public since September 11, 2001. Cardholders can donate their “American Express Membership Rewards” points to The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation. Each point has a value of one cent. Cardholders may also make a direct contribution and charge it to their AmEx card. Beyond the contributions, AmEx has commissioned film director Martin Scorsese to produce and narrate a documentary on the Statue of Liberty that is scheduled to air on the History Channel in mid-January. The fundraising effort will be supported by national print, television and Internet advertising, as well as non-traditional visibility concentrated in the New York metropolitan area. Messages about the need to reopen the Statue’s doors will be seen by rail commuters on subways and the Path train, as well as on New York area ferries, Metro Card sleeves and in office elevators.Details
Several “ICBC MasterCard Peony International Golden Cards” were recently carried into space onboard the “Shenzhou-5” manned spacecraft in conjunction with the tenth anniversary of the card.
The event will kick-off a six-month promotion of the “Golden Card” to encourage more consumers to sign up for a genuine credit card. Debit cards outnumber credit cards in the country by more than 20-to-1. The latest statistics show 544 million debit cards and 25 million credit cards. Of the 25 million credit cards, 24 million are secured credit cards and 1 million are unsecured international credit cards. Almost 16.4 million secured credit cards carry the MasterCard logo. The “Golden Card Project,” launched in 1993, was advocated by former President Jiang Zemin as a way to accelerate the construction and reform of China’s finance and trade by encouraging more people to use credit cards. MasterCard says the five credit cards that were taken into space will be displayed in museums in Beijing and Shanghai.
Global Payments has completed a three-year, $350 million revolving credit facility agreement with a syndicate of U.S. banks, that can be expanded to $500 million. Upon completion, this agreement will replace Global’s existing U.S. lines of credit, which previously totaled $150 million. Global plans to use the credit facility to fund future strategic acquisitions in the payment processing industry, to refinance the $125 million in notes issued in connection with the company’s recent DolEx acquisition, and to provide a source of working capital for general corporate purposes.Details
HP and ACI Worldwide have signed a contract with Helsinki-based Rahaxi Processing Oy for upgrading their IT platform. The contract, valued at $1 million, includes HP “NonStop” servers and ACI’s “BASE24” software. Rahaxi currently operates full, on-line connectivity to all Finnish banks and Luottokunta. Rahaxi provides services to more than 1,100 businesses, and the network supports more than 5,000 point-of-sale devices. The new system will enable Rahaxi to meet the latest VISA and MasterCard standards and to pave the way for EMV compliance.Details
Bank credit card delinquency dipped for the third consecutive month and is now sitting at its lowest level in nearly two years. The good news is accompanied by the fact that charge-offs also declined for three straight months and have hit a twelve-month low. Based on securitized and reported card loans, delinquency (30+days) for October declined to 5.43%, compared to 5.47% in September, and 5.49% in August. This is the lowest rate since January 2002, when delinquency came in at 5.41%, according to CardData ([carddata.com]). Charge-offs for October dipped to 7.36%, compared to 7.40% in September, and 7.44% in August. This is the lowest charge-off rate since September 2002, when charge-offs hit 7.33%, according to CardData ([carddata.com]). For the October period, 60+ day delinquency was 3.08%, 90+ day delinquency was 1.77%, and 120+ day delinquency was 96 basis points. Meanwhile, recovery averages of charged-off card loans has been fairly consistent at 45 basis points, according to CardData ([carddata.com]).
Ottawa-based Precidia Technologies has received certification for its “EtherDial” and “CellDial” products on retail, restaurant and lodging applications and terminals with Global Payments.
The “EtherDial” and “CellDial” IP Access products connect existing dial-based terminals to IP networks via Ethernet or an always on digital wireless connection. The products help merchants in the retail, restaurant and lodging industries to reduce communication costs with the elimination of a dedicated telephone line for transaction processing.
Edgar, Dunn & Company has hired Hugh Gallagher, formerly VP/GM at eFunds, as engagement manager to the company’s Atlanta office. Mr. Gallagher’s new responsibilities will focus on providing strategic planning and financial advisory services to the firm’s financial services clients, with a particular focus on payment products. Before joining EDC, Mr. Gallagher served as vice president and general manager at eFunds Corporation, where he managed the profitability and revenue growth of the payments business for this multimillion-dollar transaction processing and risk management services firm.Details
Canadians are expected to spend an average of $1,500 this year buying gifts, decorations, food and other holiday-related goods. A survey for Moneris Solutions by Ipsos-Reid shows that Canadians will spend an average of $761 on gifts and an average of $724 on other holiday-related spending such as clothing, travel and decorations. Almost three quarters of the survey’s respondents
selected debit or credit card as the payment form they will use most often when shopping this season. Three in ten Canadians prefer using credit card and 26% prefer cash. Almost half of all women say debit cards are their first choice for holiday shopping payment options, compared to 38% of men, while almost one-third of men prefer credit cards, compared to only 28% of women. Other survey findings: 58% say “they don’t set a budget and spend as they go”; and 38% of Canadians say they are last-minute shoppers.
TransUnion has acquired Chicago-based direct marketing solutions provider Douglas-Danielle, in a move to aggressively enter direct marketing. TransUnion says it will immediately integrate Douglas-Danielle’s suite of self-service response solutions into its existing set of direct marketing solutions. Called “SMARTSites,” these Web-based, campaign-specific, response tools address the areas of account acquisition, card/account reactivation, usage, balance transfer, collection disputes and fraud prevention. TransUnion will also incorporate Douglas-Danielle’s agency services, which include marketing functions such as program planning, creative, data and media along with program management, into its operations. Douglas-Danielle was founded in 1998 and has 48 employees.Details
ICBA Bancard has elected David Hayes, president and CEO of Security Bank in Dyersburg, TN as chairman, and has elected new directors, including Stephen Stenehjem and Kerby Crowell. Additionally, Ken F. Parsons Sr., chairman of Venture Bank in Lacey, Wash., was re-elected as director of the Western region; Charles L. Saeman, president and COO of State Bank of Cross Plains in Cross Plains, Wis., as director of the Midwest region; Ronald F. Miller, chairman, president and CEO of Shenandoah Valley National Bank in Winchester, Va., as director of the Northeast region; and C.R. “Rusty” Cloutier, president and CEO of MidSouth Bank, N.A. in Lafayette, La., as director of the Southeast region.Details
The Spiegel Group, which has been in Chapter 11 bankruptcy since March, has asked the U.S. District Court in Chicago to give it until April 7, 2004, to file its 2002 fiscal year 10-K and its three quarterly 10-Q reports for the 2003 fiscal year. The request follows the termination of KPMG LLP as its outside auditor. In September, the Independent Examiner’s report submitted to the Court identified accounting issues and raised concerns about the audit work performed by the company’s outside auditors. Spiegel says it has decided to conduct an internal review to determine whether it can continue to rely on its financial statements beginning with the 2000 fiscal year or the audit opinions expressed in relation to those financial statements. Spiegel terminated KPMG on November 17th. The Spiegel Group’s businesses include Eddie Bauer, Newport News and Spiegel Catalog.Details
VeriFone has hired Tom Veasey, an eleven-year veteran of Hypercom and its SVP of Sales, to join its North America sales team. At Hypercom, Veasey was primarily responsible for US processor sales, counting American Express, Concord EFS, First Data, Nova, and Vital among his customers. Verifone is recognized worldwide as the trusted leader in secure electronic payment technologies, provides expertise, solutions and services for today with a smart migration strategy for tomorrow.Details