FCC Takes Over Do-Not-Call Registry

The battle over the enforcement of the new national “Do-Not-Call Registry” took another turn yesterday as the Federal Communications Commission was given the green light to take over the registry. On Friday, the U.S. Court of Appeals in Denver denied a request by telemarketers to block the FCC from assuming control of the list. Yesterday, the Office of Management and Budget approved for three years the FCC’s telemarketing rules. As a result, the national do-not-call rules and the call abandonment rules will become effective tomorrow, and the caller ID requirements will go into effect on January 29, 2004. Last week, Congress passed legislation giving the FTC the authority to establish the registry while another U.S. District Court ruled the registry was unconstitutional. On Friday, the FTC filed an appeal and a motion for an emergency stay of the portion of the court’s order that enjoins the FTC. Yesterday, the President signed the bill into law.

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Rental Payments on Cards Jumps 43%

VISA USA said yesterday that payment card acceptance among rental properties has soared 43% over the past twelve months and now reaches all 50 states. More than 350,000 rental units nationwide, among 1,000+ properties, now offer the VISA debit or credit card option on a monthly basis. With the success of the rental property market, VISA’s bill payment initiative may explore capturing other lease payments. To-date, the majority of the rental property transactions have been on VISA’s debit card, and most have been one-time or monthly-authorized payments. However, a growing percentage of property management companies have been investing in the software to set-up recurring VISA payments for tenants. The American National Standards Institute has also established a separate “Merchant Category Code” for tracking transactions at property management companies, which enables issuers to categorize rent payments on cardholders’ year-end statements. A survey conducted last year by Downall Research for VISA found that 83% of apartment community managers said the use of payment cards increases on-time payments and 81% said the payment card option makes apartment homes easier to rent. VISA transactions for property management companies is currently under the “Card-Not-Present” interchange rate.

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Advanta Issues Affinity Card for Businesswomen

The Women Impacting Public Policy organization has teamed with Advanta in a broad alliance. Under terms of the deal, Advanta will issue a “WIPP Platinum Business Card” women business owners/members. Advanta will also provide its marketing and analytical capabilities to assist WIPP in increasing its membership. Furthermore, Advanta will be the exclusive provider of financial services to WIPP members as well as providing other business solutions. WIPP is a national, bipartisan public policy organization that advocates for, and on behalf of, women in business. There are a estimated 10.1 million women business owners in the USA. At mid-year, Advanta had $2.8 billion in business credit card outstandings, according to CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]).

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

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Charming Shoppes Card Bond Ratings Reaffirmed

Moody’s Investor Service has reaffirmed the ratings on $200 million of Charming Shoppes credit card securitizations. In June, Moody’s cited concerns over servicing procedures and reports by Spirit of America, the servicer, pertaining to the credit card trust. Moody’s then placed the securities issued by the trust on “Watch” for possible downgrade. However, the problems with Spirit have since been resolved and there were no investor losses. Spirit has also contracted Wachovia to validate and recalculate material line-items in the monthly servicer reports. Charming Shoppes is the largest plus-size specialty apparel retailer in America, with over 2,200 stores nationwide. (CF Library 6/25/03)

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SmarTrip Greenlighted for Regional Expansion

The Washington (DC) Metropolitan Area Transit Authority has given the go-ahead to ERG Group and Northrop Grumman to build the “SmarTrip Regional Customer Service Center.” As a result, residents of the Washington, D.C., Maryland and Northern Virginia metro area will soon be able to use a single smart card to pay fares across 17 transit systems. The “SmarTrip” system is expected to grow to a card base of more than one million over a five-year period. ERG will be responsible for the management of smart cards and operation of the data processing system incorporating clearing, settlement and financial management. Northrop Grumman will be responsible for the distribution of smart cards and operation of the customer service center.

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Target’s School Fundraising Tops $27 MM for 2003

Target announced yesterday it has awarded more than $13 million to schools this month, the second payout this year of its “Target School Fundraising” program which currently has 8 million enrolled customers, whereby 1.0% of Target purchases on Target’s “smart VISA” card and Target’s “Guest Card”, along with 0.5% of all other Target “smart VISA” purchases are donated to designated K-12 schools.

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United Overseas Bank Launches a Real VISA Mini Card

United Overseas Bank Ltd. has launched a “VISA Mini” credit card with a “MINI” car promotion in Singapore. Applicants for the miniature VISA card are entered into a contest to win a “MINI One” or a “MINI Cooper S” automobile. Applicants receive 10 chances to win when they apply, and one extra chance with each $50 outstanding on the statement. The bank is also offering various electronic gadgets for referrals. UOB says it expects to issue 100,000 “VISA Mini” cards by next September. Meanwhile, UOB has also launched a “VISA Infinite” credit card.

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