Government Relaxes Restrictions on Card Issuers

Finance ministry officials have relaxed restrictions on credit card issuers to permit them to extend the maturity of loans while putting off the 2004 deadline to bring their cash advances into line with assets. Last year, increased domestic spending drove South Korea’s economic growth, fueled by easy credit. This year, credit-tightening measures have produced a credit crunch that helped nudge the economy into recession. The National Statistical Office reports that industrial output rose 1.5% in August, a sign that the economy might be improving.

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Toyota Offers a Promotion with AmEx Gift Cards

Toyota Motor Sales USA this week launched a promotion which offers American Express gift cards as prizes. The “Get This Feeling” promotion offers consumers the opportunity to win one of 12 $10,000 AmEx-branded gift cards, or one of 1,000 AmEx-branded gift cards worth $100. The promotion is to drive parts and service sales. The promotion will run till October 31st. Toyota is running a multi-million dollar national radio campaign as well as local traffic sponsorships in metro markets nationwide. Regional and dealer service offers will also be advertised in six million direct mail pieces and online. Long Beach, California, based Creative Productions is handling all creative, online and program management, while Saatchi & Saatchi Los Angeles is handling the media buy.

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UK’s Smart Card and PIN Migration Goes Nationwide

The UK’s “Chip and PIN Programme” is going nationwide this month. The roll-out plans announced so far by card companies mean that an estimated one in five cardholders are expected to have “Chip and PIN” enabled cards by the end of this year. By spring 2004 half of all UK cardholders will have “chip and PIN” cards and they will be asked to verify one in three transactions by the new system. By 2005, the majority of UK cardholders will enter a four digit PIN instead of signing to verify credit and debit card transactions. The roll-out involves more than 850,000 shop terminals, 122 million cards, 40,000 cash machines, and 2.7 million retail employees. The “Chip and PIN Programme” was tested in Northampton during the summer. “Chip and PIN” says it is the biggest change in the way Britain shops since decimalization.

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Alliance Data Systems Launches Online Canadian Mall

Alliance Data Systems’ The Loyalty Group subsidiary has launched an online shopping destination. YourShops.ca combines North
American retail brands with the appeal of the “AIR MILES” reward program. Open to all Canadians, YourShops.ca also represents a new shopping channel through which consumer participants in the “AIR MILES” reward program can collect reward miles for their purchases. Currently, more than 60% of Canadian households — representing more than 14.6 million Canadians — actively collect AIR MILES reward miles, which can be redeemed for more than 500 different rewards, such as travel, movie passes, entertainment attractions, electronic merchandise and more.

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I-Med Red MŽdica Deploys 12,000 ICE Terminals

I-Med Red MŽdica is centralizing and enhancing its new “ISAPRES” biometric reading and payment activities using Hypercom “ICE” information and transaction terminals, “BioPIN” finger-scanning pads and software. I-Med’s selection of Hypercom was through Red Comercio Company, which has managed the project as a system integrator. I-Med expects to deploy more than 12,000 Hypercom terminals with peripherals by 2006. I-Med’s target is to provide electronics transactions services to the health market.

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Wal-Mart and GE Expand Card Programs to Canada

Wal-Mart and GE have inked a deal to launch the first private-label credit card programs for Wal-Mart and SAM’s CLUB stores in Canada. The new agreement in Canada also covers business revolving charge and business direct portfolios. Also at Wal-Mart, consumers will be offered an activation offer of 90 days, same as cash, for a $499 purchase. Wal-Mart Canada accounts will be serviced by GE Consumer Finance’s offices in Edmonton and a recently opened office in Toronto. GE will provide marketing, risk management, customer service, collections and national field marketing. GE Card Services has been the credit provider for all Wal-Mart Stores private-label credit card programs in the USA for six years. GE and Wal-Mart have also partnered in Argentina, Mexico and Brazil. Chase issues the co-branded Wal-Mart MasterCard in the USA. Wal-Mart Canada operates a network of 214 discount department stores across Canada.

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Jure Holdings Launches OPENLiMiT Smart Card

Jure Holdings has launched “OPENLiMiT,” a group of companies, specialized in products and services for the digital signature according to the European signature laws. The main product, the “OPENLiMiT Package” contains the “OPENLiMiT Card,” which is a smart card personalized by T-Systems International, the “OPENLiMiT Card Reader” and the “OPENLiMiT SignCubes” software. Within the first 10 business days, “OPENLiMiT” sold over 500 “OPENLiMiT Packages” and further products for more than US $200,000.

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Wincor Nixdorf Introduces New BEETLE Models

Wincor Nixdorf has introduced two new models in its “BEETLE” POS line, including the compact “BEETLE /XS” and a new model of the all-in-one “BEETLE /iPOS” with a 1.2GHz Celeron processor. The new BEETLE /XS is a flexible, compact POS system with an attractive design, small footprint, and high availability at an optimum price/performance ratio. The BEETLE /iPOS is an all-in-one system with a powerful 1.2GHz Celeron processor, enabling retailers to implement next-generation store applications that will help them become more competitive. Wincor Nixdorf Inc. is one of the fastest-growing providers of IT products and solutions for the retail and banking industries.

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American Express Rolls-Out Rewards Maximizer Card

American Express has launched a credit card offering a minimum of 1.5 “Membership Rewards” points for every dollar spent.
AmEx’s new “Rewards Maximizer” has an interest rate of 16.99% and a monthly card membership fee of $12. There is no limit to the points a cardholder can earn and there is no expiration date on points. The new card is presumably positioned to compete with the new ANZ-Diners Club alliance. Under the ANZ program customers are encouraged to use a Qantas ANZ VISA for small purchases and a Diners Club card for larger purchases. Diners Club offers double points on all purchases.

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Citigroup to Pull the Plug on c2it Next Month

Citigroup is pulling the plug on its online money-transfer service as of November 9th. The “c2it” service never came close to competing with PayPal, which has more than 25 million registered consumer accounts and more than 800,000 business and premier accounts. PayPal, which is now owned by eBay, also has more than 3 million international accounts. Citigroup’s “c2it” has less than 500,000 total accounts. After realizing it could not compete in the online auction market, Citigroup positioned the product as a global money transfer service. Remaining PayPal competitors include Yahoo!/HSBC’s “PayDirect,” Western Union’s “BidPay,” and CheckFree’s “Auction Payments.”

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Chip and PIN Moves from the Northampton Pilot to a National Roll-Out

The “Chip and PIN Programme” is going nationwide this month, following a successful trial this summer in Northampton. The roll-out
plans announced so far by card companies mean that an estimated one in five cardholders are expected to have “Chip and PIN” enabled cards by Christmas this year. By spring 2004 half of all UK cardholders will have chip and PIN cards and they will be asked to verify one in three transactions by the new system. By 2005, the majority of UK cardholders will enter a four digit PIN instead of signing to verify credit and debit card transactions. The roll-out involves more than 850,000 shop terminals, 122 million cards, 40,000 cash machines, and 2.7 million retail employees. “Chip and PIN” says it is the biggest change in the way Britain shops since decimalisation.

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