MBNA Europe’s Ryanair VISA Adds Cash-Back

Ireland’s Ryanair has added a cash-back feature to its co-branded VISA card, according to the latest issue of CardFlash International (www.cardflashinternational.com). The “Ryanair.com VISA,” launched in February with MBNA Europe, will now offer up to 10% cash-back on purchases made with the card at participating retailers accessible through the Ryanair online shop. Merchants include: WHSmith, Allsports, Past Times, Thorntons, Toyworld, The Pier and The Perfume Shop. The “Ryanair.com VISA” is available as a standard or gold credit card. Both cards enable users to earn a bonus flight with the purchase of 10 flights. The standard card carries an APR of 16.9% while the gold card carries an annual interest rate of 14.9%. The Ryanair credits program has been developed and is being run on behalf of Ryanair by the Irish-based marketing company Brandforce.

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Eufora MasterCard’s Auto Sweepstakes Enters its Fifth Month

AZ-based Eufora MasterCard announced this weekend it has awarded its fourth automobile winner in its monthly sweepstakes which awards one lucky cardholder a choice of a $30,000 car. Benjamin Hein was the fourth winner of the Eufora Monthly New Car Sweepstakes. Eufora gave away its first car in August 2003 to a Colorado couple, its second car to a woman from Texas and its third car to a woman from Arizona. Eufora cardholders earn one automatic entry into the sweepstakes for every $100 they spend in a month; the winner is randomly drawn on or around the 15th of each month from all entries received during the previous month. The Eufora MasterCard(R) Card is issued by InfiBank, N.A. and the Eufora pre-paid MasterCard Card is issued by BANKFIRST, two of the nation’s leading payment card issuers.

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MasterCard Sends Chinese Golden Card into Space

Several “ICBC MasterCard Peony International Golden Cards” were recently carried into space onboard the “Shenzhou-5” Chinese-manned spacecraft, in conjunction with the tenth anniversary of the card. According to the latest issue of CardFlash International (www.cardflashinternational.com), 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.

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Experian Launches Collection Advantage

Experian has introduced “Collection Advantage” that combines credit-based scoring, consumer contact information, and state-of-the-art analytical services. Designed for maximum flexibility, the all-in-one tool gives users quicker access to critical information for greater productivity and improved profits. Developed with the requirements of collection agencies, in-house collection departments, collection attorneys, and debt buyers in mind, Collection Advantage is delivered to users within 24 hours of ordering via an automated batch delivery. With Collection Advantage, users gain access to industry-specific credit-based scoring models developed by Scorex, Experian’s decision solutions business unit. Experian provides strategic support to organizations around the world.

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Credit.Com Gives Away Credit Reports and ID Theft Insurance

San Francisco-based Credit.Com is offering consumers free access to credit reports during December and free identity theft insurance from AIG Affinity Group Services. The one-year defense package includes identity theft and Internet fraud insurance as well as crisis resolution services for identity theft victims. Nearly 10 million Americans became victims of identity theft last year, according to the Federal Trade Commission — a 41 percent increase over the year before — making identity theft the fastest growing crime in the U.S. Credit.Com was formed to give consumers access to accurate, trustworthy credit resources. The Credit.Com network provides consumers with vital products and services to help them build, protect, and maintain healthy credit.

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MBNA Changes the Guard at the Top at Year-End

MBNA confirmed that Charlie Cawley, founder and current CEO of MBNA Corporation, will retire effective December 30th and will be replaced by Bruce Hammonds. Also, John Cochran has been appointed Chairman and CEO of MBNA America Bank, the primary subsidiary of MBNA Corporation. He currently is president of the bank. Hammonds and Cochran were members of the management team that established MBNA in 1982. MBNA Corporation Chairman Randy Lerner says Cawley, Hammonds, and Cochran produced exceptional results for more than 20 years including more than 12 consecutive years of earnings growth averaging more than 20% since the corporation became a public company. Cawley is 63, Hammonds 55, and Cochran 52. For the third quarter MBNA reported net income of $658.8 million, an increase of 66% compared to the third quarter of 2002, and a gain of 21% over the prior quarter.

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Terra Payments Picks Up a Canadian Information Productivity Award

Montreal-based Terra Payments, formerly SureFire Commerce, has been awarded a “Canadian Information Productivity Award” for its automated risk management system which screens credit card and electronic check payments. The Canadian Information Productivity Awards is a celebration of IT and innovation implementation excellence in all types of organizations across the country. Terra Payments offers highly specialized credit card and cheque processing services for businesses around the world, via Internet and mail order-telephone order (MOTO). The company has processed more than 50 million transactions since introducing proprietary, platform technology three years ago. Terra Payments is one of only 13 Canadian companies to receive a 2003 CIPA Award, chosen from a field of 140 entrants. Terra Payments Inc. is an international leader in the payment processing industry.

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Holiday Retail Sales Up 5%, Card Spending Up 9%

Retail spending on credit and debit cards for Friday and Saturday, November 28th and 29th, topped $6.6 billion. Americans pulled out major credit cards to charge more than $4.8 billion, and used off-line debit cards to charge $1.8 billion in holiday purchases. The estimates are based on data provided by VISA, which currently has a 42.5% share of the U.S. general purpose credit card market, and a 78.1% share of the U.S. off-line debit card market. VISA USA reported that overall spending on its credit and debit cards for Friday and Saturday, November 28th and 29th, exceeded $6.5 billion, a 12% gain over the same period last year. Retail spending, using VISA-branded card products, was up 9%, topping $3.4 billion for the two days. VISA also reported that debit card spending at retailers rose 15%, with a total of 25.7 million transactions for the two-day period, accounting for $1.4 billion in sales. Credit card spending at retailers with VISA-branded cards grew 6%, with more than $2.0 billion in volume for the same period. VISA also says the number of VISA e-commerce transactions increased 46%, generating nearly $338 million in volume, on Friday and Saturday. Meanwhile Wal-Mart reported that Friday sales increased 6.3% to a record $1.52 billion. ShopperTrak estimated that total retail sales for Friday hit $7.2 billion, a 4.8% gain over the same day a year ago.

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BillMatrix Names Chief Technology Officer

Dallas-based BillMatrix has named Robert Stephens, formerly SVP and Director of Information Technologies at Kintetsu Global Information Technologies, as CTO. As Senior Vice President and Director of Information Technologies at Kintetsu Global Information Technologies, Stephens was responsible for the planning, design and deployment of information solutions across a global network of clients and employees at one of the world’s leading freight forwarding companies. Stephens held long-term executive leadership positions at Fritz Companies and Intertrans Corporation, leaders in the global freight industry. He was educated in computer science at the University of Texas at Arlington, Texas and Skyline CDC in Dallas, Texas. BillMatrix Corporation provides outsourced payment services for the nation’s largest companies using the latest automated consumer interface technologies.

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Juniper Bank’s Pinch Yourself Campaign Nabs an Award

Juniper Bank, and its advertising agency, Rapp Collins, have been awarded an “International Silver ECHO Award” for the “Pinch Yourself” direct mail credit card solicitation program. The honor recognizes the creativity and effectiveness of the companies’ direct marketing campaign targeting prospective credit card users. The Direct Marketing Association International ECHO Awards are a much-sought-after industry honor. Judged in three rounds by direct marketing experts, the international award is the most comprehensive of its kind, rewarding outstanding campaign strategy, creativity and quantifiable results. Juniper aims to make consumers’ lives simpler and easier by giving them greater flexibility and control over their finances. Rapp Collins Worldwide is a world leader in direct marketing services and customer management with more than 2,900 professionals in 70 offices across 33 countries and capitalized billings of $2.4 billion.

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Chase to Acquire Citicorp Electronic Financial Services

J.P. Morgan Chase last week announced an agreement to acquire Citicorp Electronic Financial Services for $380 million in cash. CEFS is a provider of government issued benefits payments and prepaid stored value cards used by state and federal government agencies, as well as stored value services for private institutions. Chase says the acquisition will bolster its position as a leading provider of wholesale payment services. Citigroup says it will remain focused on businesses in which it has a leading market position. Chase expects the deal to close this quarter.

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