Marks & Spencer &more MasterCard Draws Attention of the OFT

Marks & Spencer Financial Services launch of its new “&more MasterCard” has hit a snag. The Office of Fair Trading notified the issuer that it is a violation of the “Consumer Credit Act of 1974” to automatically replace a Marks & Spencer private-label store card with the new MasterCard, without the written permission of the cardholder. More than 2.6 million of 5.0 million existing Marks & Spencer charge card users were in the process of being upgraded to the “&more” credit card. The new card was opened to the public this week. Prior to the national roll-out, Marks & Spencer completed a pilot phase in nine stores in South Wales with 40,000 charge card holders migrating to the new credit card. The new “&more” card offers 1 loyalty point per 1 GBP spent with Marks & Spencer and 1 loyalty point per 2 GBP spent elsewhere. The “&more” points can be converted into vouchers to spend exclusively at Marks & Spencer UK stores. The new card offers an APR of 14.9%, no annual fee, and credit limits of up to £10,000.

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MAJOR ABS DEAL

The largest ever single issuance of credit card asset-backed notes into the Canadian term market has closed. Royal Bank of Canada has securitized CD$1 billion of credit card receivables via the Golden Credit Card Trust. The senior notes of CD$950 million carried a yield of 4.2% while the subordinated notes of CD$50 million carried a yield of 5.1%. Standard & Poor’s has rated the senior notes “AAA” and the subordinated notes “BBB.”
The dealer syndicate for the senior and subordinated notes was led by RBC Dominion Securities.

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SVPCo Enlists AT&T to Build its Inter-Bank Extranet

NY-based SVPCo has contracted AT&T to design, build and manage its critical network infrastructure for its new nationwide, check image exchange system to be launched in the first quarter of 2004. The Image Exchange utility is an open system where all banks, all sizes, in all locations, can clear and settle images directly or through other parties. The innovative bank network design allows for private, secure, high- bandwidth, high-availability data exchanges among network participants

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Diebold Australia Buys Cardinal Brothers Manufacturing & Operations

Victoria-based Cardinal Brothers Manufacturing & Operations, a design, fabrication and manufacturing entity with a core competency in physical security, has been acquired by Diebold Australia. Cardinal Brothers has been Diebold’s business partner since 1999, in manufacturing the rising security screen technology for financial institutions and government authorities throughout the region. Michael Cardinal, managing director of Cardinal, has been named division manager, Diebold Physical Security Solutions in Australia, a newly formed organization. Michael Cardinal is also the inventor of the rising screen technology and former owner of Safetell, which was acquired by Diebold in 1997.

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ISO AMDS Readies for a National Expansion

Memphis-based American Merchant Data Services announced this week it has reached debt-free status and is in the process of hiring three additional regional sales managers. These managers will be based out of major metropolitan cities and will be immediately hiring a sales force of their own. This expansion is due in part to the rapid growth rate of the 15 billion dollar electronic data processing industry, as well as the record number of merchant accounts closed by AMDS.

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Grupo Financiero Banorte Deploys Integrated Cash Operations Module

Grupo Financiero Banorte has selected Carreker’s “Integrated Cash Operations Module” to manage the cash inventory and transportation for its 2,300 ATMs, 1,100 branches and 50 vaults. The software develops a daily cash activity profile for each cash point, assists in identifying optimal cash transportation schedules, and provides pre-emptive cash shortage alerts. “iCom” users have historically reduced their overall cash inventories by 20% to 40% while improving transportation schedules, lowering cash handling costs, and increasing the overall productivity and efficiency of the cash inventory management process. iCom is currently used by many of the large banks in the U.S., the U.K., Australia, Canada, South Africa, and Latin America.

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Marks & Spencer’s New MasterCard Hits a Snag

Marks & Spencer Financial Services launch this week of its new “&more MasterCard” has hit a snag. The Office of Fair Trading notified the issuer that it is a violation of the “Consumer Credit Act of 1974” to automatically replace a Marks & Spencer private-label store card with the new MasterCard, without the written permission of the cardholder. More than 2.6 million of 5.0 million existing Marks & Spencer charge card users were in the process of being upgraded to the “&more” credit card. The new card was opened to the public this week. Prior to the national roll-out, Marks & Spencer completed a pilot phase in nine stores in South Wales with 40,000 charge card holders migrating to the new credit card. The new “&more” card offers 1 loyalty point per 1 GBP spent with Marks & Spencer and 1 loyalty point per 2 GBP spent elsewhere. The “&more” points can be converted into vouchers to spend exclusively at Marks & Spencer UK stores. The new card offers an APR of 14.9%, no annual fee, and credit limits of up to £10,000.

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Hypercom Sells Leasing Business

Hypercom has sold its micro-ticket card terminal leasing business. Northern Leasing is paying Hypercom $30 million in cash for its Golden Eagle Leasing subsidiary. Under terms of the deal, Hypercom will keep Golden Eagle’s cash while Northern Leasing will buy all the other assets of Golden Eagle and assume substantially all of its related liabilities. At mid-year CT-based Golden Eagle had $14.2 million in cash. NYC-based Northern Leasing Systems is a leader in the micro-ticket lease market, and has specialized in serving the credit card merchant account business since its inception in 1991.

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Mosaic Software Receives Processor Award

Mosaic Software has received the Co-Op Network’s “2003 Outstanding Processor Performance Award”. Based on the evaluation period from July 2002 to June 2003, the credit union achieved a 99.84% average response rate and a 96.56% approval rate for transactions acquired from the network. The Processor Award was presented to Johann Dreyer, CEO of Mosaic Software, at the 2003 EFT User’s Conference in New Orleans during the Interactive Software Vendor Luncheon and Processor Award Presentation.

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CIBC Launches Basic VISA Card for Small Business

CIBC has launched a stripped-down small business credit card offering a super low interest rate. The new “CIBC bizline VISA,” available to firms with less than 10 employees, offers an interest rate as low as prime +1.5%. The card carries no annual fee and a credit limit between $5,000 and $50,000. The card does offer some built-in benefits, including access to a “Small Business Saving Program”; $1 million of travel accident insurance; and a year-end statement summary. The card offers optional benefits including “CIBC Hot Line Service”; extra travel insurance; and trip cancellation/trip interruption insurance. Business applicants must have been in business for 3 months or more and have annual revenue between $35,000 and $5 million. CIBC will issue up to 9 additional cards.

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NCR Introduces First Touchscreen POS Workstation

NCR has introduced the “NCR RealPOS 70” touchscreen POS workstation and has announced that Stewart’s Shops has signed the first order, and that Uno Restaurants are piloting the system this month. The NCR RealPOS 70 is a multipurpose system offering more than just POS functionality. With a powerful Intel processor starting at 2 gigahertz, standard stereo speakers and full multimedia capabilities, it can double as a kiosk or interactive training device. The new NCR workstation is easy to upgrade. Converting from a 12.1-inch to a 15-inch operator display is quick and tool-free, while preserving the retailer’s original POS terminal investment. Emerging technologies such as fingerprint recognition or wireless communications can also be added with ease.

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