Following a pilot with fifteen issuing and acquiring banks and 40 merchants, VISA USA has launched a new service for merchants that will automate the process of updating their customers’ credit card information. “VISA Account Updater” increases customer retention by reducing disruptions of the payment process that result from outdated account information thereby increasing approved card transactions. VISA says merchants that bill customers on a recurring basis or that retain VISA payment card data on-file, will be able to reduce the manual process of maintaining up-to-date cardholder information. More than 55% of VISA cards have account information changes annually due to expiration date changes, closed accounts, card replacements, upgrades to “Gold” or “Platinum,” loss or theft, and portfolio acquisitions or mergers. VISA estimates that recurring bill providers alone represent approximately $800 billion in total billing volume. Banks can connect to VAU via “VISA Direct Exchange,” an Internet-based network that is part of “VisaNet.” It does not interfere with a bank’s normal payment processing routines and runs on a dedicated in-house server at VISA’s central processing facility.Details
Bank of America customers now have free access to 1,770 Grupo Financerio Santander Serfin ATMs throughout Mexico. In return, Santander Serfin customers will have free access to 13,000 Bank of America ATMs in the USA. The reciprocal agreement will take effect June 15th. In December 2002, Bank of America acquired 24.9% of Santander subsidiary, Grupo Financerio Santander Serfin. Bank of America says 75% of the total U.S. Hispanic population lives within its service area.Details
ConocoPhillips has inked a deal with Dell Computer for POS technology/services for its new “TankBank” customer loyalty program. Dell will install POS systems built on “Dell OptiPlex” desktop computers at participating Conoco, 76 and Phillips 66 stores. The “TankBank” application runs on AutoGas Systems’ “REGAL E-POS,” an open architecture operating system that powers dispenser control, card reader, cash acceptor and the ConocoPhillips credit card network. “TankBank” is ConocoPhillips’ new loyalty program that combines gasoline savings at the pump with in-store promotions. Abilene, TX-based AutoGas Systems offers POS solutions and dispenser control systems to loyalty programs.Details
The Sao Paulo-based Banco24Horas ATM network will now dispense reals to foreign travelers using their American Express, MasterCard and VISA cards in Brazil. There are more than 2,000 Banco24Horas network self-service terminals in the country. The terminals offer an English-language menu. Banco24Horas is located in more than 200 cities in major Brazil states, such as Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Minas Gerais, Brasilia, Rio Grande do Sul, Ceara, Bahia, Pernambuco, Amazonas and Alagoas. Last year, Banco24Horas handled more than 120 million transactions for a volume of more than 6 billion reals.Details
Amtrak has successfully handled more than $2 million in credit card transactions since April through an automated speech system. The new speech-enabled credit card application system is provided by Boston-based SpeechWorks International, and runs on a platform from Dallas-based Intervoice. When completing a reservation with “Julie,” Amtrak’s automated speech system, callers simply say their zip code, credit card type and number followed by the expiration date. Tickets are picked up at an Amtrak kiosk at the train station. To date, over 10 million callers have called Amtrak’s “Julie” to access train status details, schedules, fares and reservation information. Amtrak says the automated speech system has increased customer satisfaction by 53% over Amtrak’s previous touch-tone system and saved the passenger rail company approximately $13 million. Other SpeechWorks’ clients include Continental Airlines, CIBC Bank, State of Michigan and Thrifty Car Rental.Details
MasterCard International’s gross dollar volume declined in the Asia-Pacific region for the first time. During the first quarter, MasterCard’s gross dollar volume dipped 6.8% to $54.2 billion, according to this week’s The RAM Report ([www.ramreport.com]). One year ago, the gross dollar volume was up nearly 18% in the first quarter. This year, purchase dollar volume declined 1.37%, while cash advance dollar volume declined 13.19%. Card volume in South Korea has declined sharply for all card issuers as the country continues to deal with spiraling credit card delinquencies and huge charge-offs. MasterCard also noted that the conversion to the domestic payments brand in China was partly to blame for the decline.
Pittsburgh-based Wizzard Software has released a detailed marketing report for the talking ATM market. The report is a compilation from several outside sources and discusses the size, scope and potential as well as Wizzard’s current and future position in the market. Talking ATMs help ATM operators to comply with government regulation 508 allowing access to technology for people with visual disabilities while at the same time have the potential to generate additional revenues through talking advertisements. Currently, Wizzard Software is the leader in the Talking ATM market and plans to roll out new Speech Management Software for Talking ATM management in the third quarter of 2003.Details
Universal and Chase are rolling out a new rewards MasterCard tomorrow, in conjunction with the theatrical release of “The Hulk.” The collectible “Universal Entertainment MasterCard Hulk Limited Edition from Chase” is made of signature green plastic and will be available until next June to new cardholders, as well as existing cardholders of the “Universal Entertainment MasterCard from Chase.” Existing Universal cardholders have received an invitation to an advance private screening of the film in New York City. In December, Chase and Universal signed a co-branding contract. Under the program, cardholders earn one point per dollar on all everyday purchases, and two points per dollar spent at select Universal Parks & Resorts retail locations. Points can be redeemed for movie and concert tickets, DVDs, CDs, advance movie screenings, and cardholders will have the opportunity to redeem reward points for unique Hollywood experiences, including tickets to celebrity events, spending a day on a television or movie set, backstage concert passes, and walking the red carpet at a movie premiere. MasterCard also signed a deal with Universal last year to become the “Official Payment Brand” and “Preferred Card” of Universal Entertainment’s theme parks and resorts, movies, music and Internet properties. (CF Library 12/6/02; 2/19/03)Details
Plano, TX-based Aurum has signed a five-year contract to provide ATM/debit card management services for Firstrust Bank of Philadelphia. The $2 billion, 23-branch bank will continue to leverage Aurum’s industry-leading MISER core processing system, as well as its image item processing solutions, to serve its retail and commercial customers. Also, Firstrust has outsourced the management of its ATM and debit card services to Aurum, positioning the bank to take advantage of Aurum’s advanced fraud detection tools, critical to protecting both the institution and its customers. The Company serves both commercial and retail customers, but has found commercial services for deposit and lending to be a strategic niche in their Philadelphia-area market.Details
The nation’s second largest bank credit card issuer this month pushed late payment and over-limit fees above the $35 level. MBNA is now assessing cardholders, with balances over $1,001, a $39 late fee and a $39 over-limit fee, according to CardWatch ([www.cardwatch.com]). MBNA is also notifying cardholders this month it is raising its minimum and maximum transaction fee for credit card access checks. MBNA’s new late fee schedule, effective with the June billing cycle, calls for a $15 fee for late payments on accounts with an outstanding balance under $101, and a $29 late fee for accounts with balances between $101 and $1,000. MBNA’s new over-limit fee schedule, also effective with the June billing cycle, calls for a $15 fee for being over-limit on accounts with an outstanding balance under $501, and a $29 fee for being late on accounts with balances between $501 and $1,000. MBNA’s transaction fee for credit card access checks will apply to checks posted after July 15th. The transaction fee is 3%. The minimum transaction fee will now go to $10 from $5, and the maximum transaction fee will rise from $50 to $75. One year ago, as growth and profits slowed, MBNA launched an aggressive re-pricing campaign with punitive interest rates. Since 1998, late payment fees have risen 56% on average, from $19.38 to $30.29. Over-limit fees have increased 52% since 1998, from $18.59 to $28.21.
Juniper Bank has hired Peter Atwater, former CEO for Bank One’s Private Client Group and former EVP/Treasurer for First USA, as Managing Director and CFO. Atwater’s new responsibilities will include Juniper’s accounting, treasury, and financial planning functions. He also will be participating in developing Juniper’s strategic direction as a member of the Management Committee. Peter Atwater is a highly respected financial services industry veteran who has more than 20 years of experience and brings a wealth of knowledge to the Juniper team.Details
Electronic Clearing House has launched its “MerchantAmerica Agent Bank” program for the country’s independent and community bank sector. The Program is a total payment processing solution encompassing all major transaction types such as payment card processing, electronic check conversion, check risk management services and ACH payment services. The Agent Bank program enables smaller banks to provide a full range of services more often associated with the major national banks. The program has already been extensively beta-tested and is in full operation in a variety of banks in the Western States.Details