BancorpSouth Introduces a Free MasterCard Gift Card

MS-based BancorpSouth has launched a “MasterCard Gift Card” program that carries no card fee for loading money, or added charges for shipping and handling. The BancorpSouth prepaid MasterCard Gift Card can be purchased online or at any BancorpSouth branch location. The prepaid MasterCard card can be loaded with funds by using cash, check, credit card, debit card or direct payment from a personal banking account. BancorpSouth, Inc. is a bank holding company headquartered in Tupelo, Mississippi with approximately $10.2 billion in assets. BancorpSouth operates approximately 250 commercial banking, insurance, trust and broker/dealer locations in Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and Texas.

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STM’s ST19 Chips Go 180nn Production and Meet VISA Level 3

STMicroelectronics has hit technology “Level 3” by VISA International for the first three members of its “ST19” family of secure microcontrollers. Aimed at all cost-sensitive smart card banking applications, the “ST19WK08,” “ST19WSC8” and “ST19WS02” retain the advantages of ST’s popular “ST19” family, including high-security features and “Common Criteria EAL4+” certification,
while providing increased price/performance through the move from today’s standard 250nm smart card production technology to the new 180nm technology generation. All three devices incorporate the “ST19” 8-bit microcontroller and include on-chip memories. The ROM, RAM and EEPROM memories can be configured into partitions with customized access rules and access from any memory area to another is protected by hardware firewalls. Access rules are user defined and can be selected by mask options. An on-chip ST ROM contains a comprehensive set of ST-provided functions and libraries.

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VeriSign Transaction Volume Doubles This Year

VeriSign reported this week that its transaction volumes for its more than 97,000 online retailers increased to $6.9 billion during the third quarter. From January through October, overall online commercial sales volumes through VeriSign’s payment network increased from $9.7 billion in 2002 to $19.8 billion. Merchant sales volumes for September and October combined, increased from $2.56 billion during 2002 to $4.73 billion during the same two months of 2003. December and November are the busiest two months for online shopping, with purchases through VeriSign’s payment network totaling more than $2.96 billion in 2002. Current patterns indicate that consumers are on pace to spend more than double that amount through VeriSign merchants this year. The slowest online shopping months continue to be June, July, and August. However, online spending through VeriSign merchants during the 2003 timeframe increased by 87%, accounting for $6.3 billion versus only $3.4 billion over the same time period in 2002. VeriSign merchant customer online transaction revenues account for 30% of North American eCommerce.

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Datacard SE48 Debuts in Europe

Datacard Group this week is demonstrating its new “SE48” card issuance system for the first time in Europe. The new “Datacard SE48” system offers embossing, topping, indent printing
and magnetic stripe encoding, as well as contact and contactless smart card personalization capabilities. The compact system also offers the speed, flexibility and advanced security features financial institutions need for on-demand issuance of ready-to-use credit, debit, ATM and EMV cards. In addition to instant issuance applications, the “Datacard SE48” system is designed for short-run and batch-issuance requirements in centralized card programs. The system has production volumes up to 120 cards per hour and 25,000 cards per year. The system also offers many financial-grade security features, including 3-DES encryption, CPX protocol, locked cabinets, a non-resettable card counter and networking options.

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FNBO, NCR, and ACI Gear Up for the Launch of IFX ATMs

The first scheduled deployment of an ATM solution based completely on the new interactive financial exchange messaging standard for ATMs is underway by First National Bank of Omaha. NCR and ACI partnered with FNBO for the deployment. ATMs have traditionally utilized proprietary messaging protocols to authenticate and authorize transactions with the banks’ or other ATM deployers’ financial processing systems. The limitations of these proprietary protocols have restricted the functional capabilities of ATMs. Furthermore, due to the uniqueness of the ATM channel, deployers have been unable either to share transactional services or to use a common infrastructure between their ATMs and their other delivery channels, such as Internet and telephone banking. The non-proprietary and more powerful IFX replaces these legacy ATM transaction authorization protocols that are no longer capable of handling today’s functionality. IFX allows the bank or ATM deployer to use the same software applications and supporting infrastructure across several channels.

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Cap One to Hold Conference for DC Community Groups

Capital One and Consumer Action have scheduled a two-day seminar for 80 non-profit community groups in Washington, DC on November 20th. The two-day seminar will kick off in Washington DC on November 20, 2003 and will focus on six areas of financial management for clients of community groups: banking, budgeting, understanding credit, credit repair, understanding bankruptcy and talking to teens about money. Capital One Financial Corporation is a holding company whose principal subsidiaries, Capital One Bank and Capital One, F.S.B., offer consumer lending products. Consumer Action is a non-profit, membership-based organization founded in San Francisco in 1971. Consumer Action serves consumers nationwide by advancing consumer rights, referring consumers to complaint-handling agencies and publishing multilingual educational materials.

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One-Third of Consumers Buy Prepaid Cards to Avoid Credit Card Hassles

Another survey shows the surge in prepaid cards, revealing that 32% of Americans have used a prepaid card to make a purchase or transaction, which compared to other payment methods, including cash, is not far off from the 45% who report using debit cards. The sixth annual Coinstar survey also shows that 36% of consumers buy prepaid cards to avoid credit card interest charges and that 35% say it helps then avoid accumulating credit card debt. More than one-third said it helps control spending, while 14% said they do not have a credit card. About one-third say prepaid cards are good to give as gifts; and 29% say they are especially good to give to kids. When asked what methods they would consider using to refill or replenish their prepaid cards’ spending value, self-service kiosks, by check and by phone were each cited by about 20% of the respondents, followed by online (14%) and credit card (12%). Despite the increasing number of payment methods available to consumers, the Coinstar survey showed that 21% of Americans do not see a future without cash, and 45% believe society going cashless is at least 10 to 20 or more years away. Even prepaid card users (51%) report they carry as much cash in their wallet today, as they did one year ago.

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Precidia EtherDial/CellDial Certified with Global Payments

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 proven EtherDial and CellDial IP Access products connect existing dial-based terminals to IP networks via Ethernet or an always on digital wireless connection. Global Payments Inc. is a leading provider of electronic transaction processing services to merchants, Independent Sales Organizations, financial institutions, government agencies and multi-national corporations located throughout the United States, and Canada and Europe. Precidia Technologies Inc. is a global leader in the design and manufacture of IP access devices for a wide range of industries, including retail payments and building automation.

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ADS Launches the Shop At Home Network Card

Dallas-based Alliance Data Systems has launched a private label credit card program for the Shop At Home Network under a five-year agreement. Shop At Home currently reaches approximately 70 million cable households for some portion of the day through its nearly 400 affiliated television, cable and direct broadcast satellite systems. Alliance will provide a full suite of private label credit card services for the Shop At Home Network, including account acquisition and activation, receivables funding, card authorization, private label credit card issuance, statement generation, remittance processing, marketing services and customer service functions. Alliance Data Systems is a leading provider of transaction services, credit services and marketing services. The company assists retail, petroleum, utility and financial services clients in managing the critical interactions between them and their customers. Shop At Home Network, LLC, a 17-year-old nationally televised home shopping service, sells merchandise through interactive electronic media, primarily including broadcast, cable, and satellite television.

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AVS-Match Order Fraud Activity Rises 80%

A new research study shows that fraud among online transactions validated with “Address Verification Systems” is growing significantly. The research from the ClearCommerce “Fraud Data Consortium” found an almost 80% increase in AVS-match order fraud activity. AVS, which verifies a U.S. customer’s billing address with the address on record, is the most widely used fraud countermeasure for online retailers today. Through identity theft, fraudsters are able to gain access to cardholder billing information, allowing them to pass the AVS screening. Because most merchants trust orders with a full match, a fraudster that assumes a cardholder’s identity can escape checks and verifications. Last year retailers lost nearly $500 million to fraudulent transactions and missed sales during in the fourth quarter. Online fraud cost retailers $160 million, while they rejected an additional $315 million of attempted purchases because they appear suspicious. ClearCommerce suggests that online merchants leverage issuer-supported verification tools, verify suspicious orders, implement a negative database, review orders before rejecting, and, implement a multilayered fraud-detection system.

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OneSMART Adds M/Chip Deployment Program and Pre-Configured Packages

MasterCard International confirmed yesterday at the Paris “Cartes 2003” conference that it is working on twice as many smart card projects as one-year ago. Of the more than 400 individual MasterCard smart card implementations underway around the world, half involve issuers in Europe. However, the strongest activity is in Asia-Pacific where the number of EMV smart cards has hit 14.5 million, double last year’s figure. The worldwide smart card migration is driven by decisions made by MasterCard’s regional boards in Asia/Pacific, Europe, Latin America/Caribbean, and South Asia and Middle East Africa. All of these boards have recently enacted intra-regional liability shift policies calling for the full-scale adoption of smart cards and chip terminals in the 2005 and 2006 time period. Last year, MasterCard announced “OneSMART MasterCard,” a comprehensive, global support program covering every aspect necessary to successfully launch smart cards. Expanding on this, MasterCard this week unveiled a subset of the “OneSMART MasterCard,” called the “M/Chip Deployment Program,” which provides a complete solution for MasterCard’s customers who are migrating their payment cards from the magnetic stripe platform to chip. Companies supporting the “M/Chip 4” program include: Ingenico, Austria Card, Gemplus, Giesecke & Devrient and Setec. The “OneSMART MasterCard” program was also recently expanded with a range of pre-configured smart card packages including: “OneSMART MasterCard Payment” which provides an enhanced payment application; “OneSMART MasterCard Authentication” which ensures a higher level of security for online shopping and remote banking; and “OneSMART MasterCard Web” that allows cardholders to securely store and manage a wide range of personal data (such as names, addresses, URLs, log-on passwords) on the smart card chip.

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Equifax Drops COO and Divides into Six Units

Equifax confirmed yesterday it has eliminated its COO position and has divided itself into six businesses including North America Information Services; Latin America Information Services; Europe Information Services; Consumer Direct; Predictive Sciences; and, Direct Marketing Services. Equifax’s six separate businesses each will be led by a Group Executive reporting directly to the CEO. Equifax Inc. is a global leader in turning information into intelligence. For businesses, Equifax provides faster and easier ways to find, approve and market to the appropriate customers.

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