VISA Releases New Smart Card Specification

VISA International this morning announced the availability of a new VISA specification that simplifies how non-payment programs are stored and updated on smart cards. The “VISA Smart Secure Storage,” or “VS3,” is the latest enhancement to “VISA Smart,” a global initiative to support migration to EMV chip cards. “VS3” allows issuers to create pre-formatted “cells” that they can offer to their partners to populate with data related to their programs, such as loyalty rewards programs, personal identity services, and club memberships. The “VS3” specification is EMV-compliant and can reside on a static chip or “GlobalPlatform” multi-application chip. Research conducted by VISA in Asia-Pacific found that three-quarters of those surveyed were attracted to smart cards for their ability to consolidate payment functions and value-added services.

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CompuCredit on NASDAQ Financial-100

Atlanta-based CompuCredit will become a component of the “NASDAQ Financial-100 Index” effective at the beginning of trading on Monday, November 3rd. With a market capitalization of $851 million, CompuCredit Corporation is a credit card company that uses analytical techniques to serve consumers it believes to be underserved by traditional grantors of credit. Credit cards marketed by CompuCredit are generally issued by Columbus Bank and Trust Company under an agreement with CompuCredit.

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ViVOtech Targets QSRs with a Total Solution

ViVOtech has rolled-out an end-to-end contactless card solution for the QSR industry that includes the “ViVOpay” reader, “ViVOpay” platform and “ViVOpay Drive Through” products and services. ViVOtech’s customized solution allows QSR operators to speed up customer lines by enabling contactless payments that are faster than cash and safer than checks, offer QSR-branded contactless gift cards to enhance loyalty programs and validate contactless gift cards electronically. ViVOtech, a leader in lifestyle payment transactions, provides breakthrough software technology that allows consumers to make contactless payments in a style that best fits their needs — with a radio frequency enabled credit or debit card in various form factors, an infrared/RF enabled cell phone, PDA or an access card at existing POS systems.

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AmSouth Adds Interlink to Debit Products

AmSouth Bank has renewed its contract with VISA for signature-based debit, added “Interlink” PIN-based debit, and has chosen VISA DPS and PULSE to handle the bank’s PIN-based debit processing. AmSouth will begin implementing the new network arrangements in early 2004, however the change will not affect how or where customers can use their debit or credit cards. AmSouth is a regional bank holding company with $44 billion in assets, 600 branch banking offices and more than 1,200 ATMs. AmSouth operates in Tennessee, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana and Georgia.

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Disney and AT&T Team for Low Cost Content Management Fees

Disney’s Blast and Disney’s Toontown Online subscription cards are now available at Wal-Mart stores nationwide. The cards are supported by “AT&T PrePaid Web Cents” technology. These cards enable consumers to easily purchase a subscription to Disney’s Toontown Online and Disney’s Blast, an advertising-free online service that offers more than 100 fun and educational games and activities in a secure, parent-trusted environment. The Disney specialty cards can be purchased for $9.94 for a one month subscription. Wal-Mart will activate the cards at the point of sale. To use the card, a consumer will log on to Disney Online directly, or through the “AT&T PrePaid Web Cents” site. The consumer will be prompted to enter the serial number and PIN printed on the back of the card to activate their subscription.

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NCR ATM Revenues Down 6% from Last Year

NCR orporation reported better-than-expected operating results for the third quarter, including revenue of $1.35 billion, down 2% from revenue in the third quarter of 2002. NCR reported net income of $18 million for 3Q/02, a sharp decline from net income of $41 million in the third quarter of 2002. The ATM segment generated third-quarter revenue of $271 million, down 6% from the year-ago period. Revenue growth in the Americas and Europe/Middle East/Africa regions offset a slower-than-anticipated pace of automated teller machine installations in the Asia/Pacific region. Customer Services revenue increased to $456 million in the third quarter of 2003, up 2% from the prior-year period. During the quarter, NCR received orders from nine of the top 15 banks in the USA valued in excess of $45 million, in the EMEA region, NCR received orders from three major banks in the UK valued at $21 million. In the Asia Pacific region, deals were won at three major banks in China valued at more than $30 million, including China’s first multivendor “APTRA Edge” software win at the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China. NCR also received orders from three Indian banks valued in excess of $10 million. For complete details on NCR’s third quarter, visit CardData ([www.cardadat.com][1]).

[1]: http://www.cardadat.com

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Citigroup International Card Profits Up 37%

Citigroup reported that its international cards business produced third quarter income of $166 million, an increase of 37% over the year-ago quarter. During the quarter the issuer added 1.6 million accounts net to its open account base, outside North America. Charge volume for international credit cards was up 18%, to $10.3 billion for the third quarter. Total outstandings for international cards were $13.6 billion as of September 30th, a 25% gain over one year ago. In Japan, credit card loans were flat, while in the rest of Asia, credit card loans grew 12% to $6.6 billion. Citigroup holds $4.6 billion in card loans for the EMEA region and $400 million in Latin America. Delinquency and charge-offs both decreased during the third quarter for international cards. Delinquency (90+ days) declined from 2.04% in 2Q/03 to 1.88% for 3Q/03. Charge-offs declined from 4.60% in 2Q/03 to 4.27% for the third quarter. The provision for credit losses decreased due to improvements in Hong Kong and Taiwan, and the release of loan loss reserves in Argentina, partially offset by deterioration in the UK and Korea.

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Capital One and Consumer Action Release Survey

A new survey by Capital One and Consumer Action shows that more than half of the parents said they think their teens’ knowledge of money management is “good” to “excellent” but only 20% of the teens in question agree. While nearly 73 percent of the parents surveyed said that they have talked to their teenagers about money management, 53 percent of the teens said that they want to learn more. Talking to Teens About Money is a part of the “Money Wi$e” series, a national financial literacy partnership between Capital One and Consumer Action. It is the first program of its kind to combine free, multilingual financial education materials with community training and seminars to give consumers at all income levels both the information and the practical assistance they need to make smart financial choices. Consumer Action is a non-profit, membership-based organization founded in San Francisco in 1971.

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iDine and Travelweb Partner

FL-based iDine Rewards Network has formed a relationship with Travelweb to expand its hotel rewards offering. By booking hotels online at [www.idine.com][1] or calling iDine’s toll free reservations number, iDine members earn a minimum reward of either 5% cash back or 5 airline miles for every dollar spent on the room rate. Travelweb LLC is a travel distribution company. Owned by Hilton Hotels Corporation, Hyatt Corporation, Marriott International, InterContinental Hotels Group, Starwood Hotels, priceline.com and travel technology provider Pegasus Solutions, Inc., Travelweb pioneered the seamless merchant distribution model which is credited for returning yield and revenue management capabilities back to hoteliers and for broadening their distribution options. iDine Rewards Network, based in Chicago, Illinois, offers its members savings and rewards programs via its registered credit card platform.

[1]: http://www.idine.com

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DOJ Files Lawsuit to Block First Data’s Acquisition of Concord EFS

The Department of Justice yesterday filed a civil antitrust lawsuit to block the proposed $7 billion acquisition of Concord EFS by First Data. The DOJ says the merger would substantially reduce competition among PIN debit networks, and could result in consumers paying higher prices for goods and services from merchants that offer debit transactions. According to the complaint, PIN debit networks provide an increasingly important method of payment for consumers and retailers because PIN debit is the least expensive, most efficient, and most secure form of card payment. In 2002, consumers used PIN debit networks to purchase more than $150 billion in goods and services. The DOJ says that if allowed to proceed, this merger of two of the three largest PIN debit networks will lead to higher prices to merchants, forcing them to pass on those price increases to many consumers throughout the USA. Meanwhile, First Data said last night the complaint filed by the DOJ is inaccurate and ill-advised. FDC says the DOJ appears to have focused its opposition to the transaction on the combination of the NYCE network, which is majority owned by First Data, and the STAR network, owned by Concord. While those networks carry PIN debit transactions at both the POS and ATMs, the DOJ’s complaint is limited to the alleged market for PIN debit services at the POS. FDC says it is ironic that the DOJ is acting against a transaction where the combined company would handle less than 45% of PIN debit transactions, when only two years ago, the DOJ approved Concord’s acquisition of STAR, which resulted in Concord handling approximately 60% of exactly the same transactions. First Data and Concord said they are prepared to proceed quickly with the case and will ask the Court to rule on the Justice Department’s request to enjoin the deal well in advance of the January 31, 2004 termination date in the First Data and Concord merger agreement.

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Vital Processing Services Launches the Vital Integration Partners

Vital Processing Services has launched the “Vital Integration Partners” program. The new Vital “VIP Program” will help both Vital’s acquiring clients as well as system integrators and software developers to leverage business opportunities in the merchant marketplace. Vital processes for 300 acquiring clients, including the top 25 acquirers in the industry, representing more than one million merchants in the USA. Through Vital’s new “VIP” program, Vital’s client base will have access to the tremendous expertise and value-add technology solutions that “Vital Integration Partners” bring to merchants. To become a member of the new “VIP Program,” developers and system integrators are requested to register for approval to process on the Vital platform.

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GE Extends Contract with American Eagle Outfitters

GE Consumer Finance has signed a two-year extension of its agreement with American Eagle Outfitters, to continue to provide private label credit card services for “The AE Card” until Jan. 1st, 2008. The credit program, marketed as “The AE Card” has been in place since 1996 and was originally scheduled to run through 2006. American Eagle Outfitters currently operates 731 American Eagle stores in North America, 62 AE stores in Canada, and 111 Bluenotes/Thriftys retail outlets in Canada. Benefits of “The AE Card” include 15% off first purchase, 20% off for birthday purchases, special savings days of 15% throughout the year, and on-line account access through [www.ae.com][1]. GE Consumer Finance, a unit of General Electric Company, with $95 billion in assets, is a leading provider of credit services to consumers, retailers and auto dealers in 36 countries around the world.

[1]: http://www.ae.com

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