With MasterCard’s contactless “PayPass” U.S. pilot well underway and expanding, VISA announced yesterday a major alliance with Royal Philips Electronics to promote and develop the application of contactless chip technology for payment transactions. VISA has been active in Asia with contactless payment pilots and has been especially active in the development of infrared payment technologies. The collaboration is part of VISA’s “U-Commerce” initiative enabling payment transactions anywhere, anytime and through any device. Philips says its vision of the future is a world connected in which everyone can always securely access multi-rich information, entertainment and services. Under the MOU between VISA and Philips, both firms are looking to identify joint business partners, such as hardware manufacturers and content providers, and to investigate developing business and technical models.Details
Government agencies now have more options when it comes to improving customer service operations due to a new arrangement between First Data Corp. subsidiary company, GovConnect, a leader in providing digital service delivery solutions, and First Data Resources, the world’s leading-provider of transaction processing services.
The new arrangement brings a full spectrum of modular, scalable business process services to deliver cost-effective support for government agencies of all sizes. By drawing on the infrastructure of First Data, GovConnect can help government agencies capitalize more fully on secure, scalable services to modernize service offerings, including benefit distribution, tax filing and payment, claims and compliance processing, database management, electronic funds transfer programs, plastic card services, and enterprise-wide information management strategies.
In addition, First Data can provide business process outsourcing options for governments that include advanced electronic funds transfer services; print and mail services capable of handling millions of pieces of mail daily; customer contact services capable of handling millions of calls weekly; and automated reporting and data delivery systems that eliminate manual reconciliation and save valuable resources.
Since its acquisition by eONE Global in the second quarter of 2002, GovConnect has implemented First Data capabilities on precedent setting government projects. GovConnect, in partnership with Western Union, another subsidiary of First Data, has enabled the acceptance of walk up child support payments. GovConnect is also leveraging the secure, scalable First Data customer contact capabilities in delivering consumer protection No-Call strategies. The First Data customer contact services in Daytona Beach, Fla., are currently in use to provide information for both consumers and telemarketers in the No-Call program.
“First Data offers unparalleled infrastructure, a multitude of resources and proven reliability to enhance and modernize government service strategies,” according to Kim Bishop, senior vice president at First Data. “We are pleased to be able to extend the reach of First Data capabilities with the outstanding products and services already provided by GovConnect.”
“Our affiliation with First Data gives our government clients an extremely high level of security to handle the most vital, large-scale government programs and processes. We are extremely pleased to offer services that integrate people and technology that improve government service delivery,” said Jeff Ficke, senior vice president of GovConnect.
GovConnect has been facilitating government interaction with individuals and businesses more than 20 years. The company has provided innovative, state-of-the-art technology solutions in 45 states.
GovConnect () is a leading provider of electronic service delivery solutions for government agencies from strategy to implementation. GovConnect has helped agencies across the United States automate millions of transactions that result in the electronic transfer of trillions of dollars in revenue annually. Services from GovConnect include service modernization through the effective deployment of technology, professional services from experienced public sector consultants, payment processing strategies and business process outsourcing services to support government operations. GovConnect is based in Cincinnati, Ohio, and is a subsidiary of govONE Solutions, LP. govONE Solutions is an operating company of an emerging payments leader, eONE Global, LP (), a leader in the emerging payment technologies and systems spanning the government, mobile and enterprise marketplaces, and majority-owned by First Data Corp.
About First Data
First Data Corp., with global headquarters in Denver, helps power the global economy. As a leader in electronic commerce and payment services, First Data serves approximately 3 million merchant locations, 1,400 card issuers and millions of consumers, making it easy, fast and secure for people and businesses to buy goods and services using virtually any form of payment. With 29,000 employees worldwide, the company provides credit, debit, smart card and stored-value card issuing and merchant transaction processing services; Internet commerce solutions; money transfer services; money orders; and check processing and verification services throughout the United States. First Data also offers a variety of payment services in the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Japan, Mexico, Spain, the Netherlands, the Middle East and Germany. Its Western Union and Orlandi Valuta money transfer networks include a total of approximately 159,000 Agent locations in more than 195 countries and territories. For more information, please visit the company’s Web site at .Details
Virgin Mobile USA, LLC announced that it has expanded its Marketing team with the appointment of three senior marketing executives. Greg Castronuovo joins as vice president, Promotion and Brand Activation, Susan Collins as vice president, Consumer Marketing and Bob Stohrer as vice president, Brand and Communications. They join Craig Gosselin, vice president, Sales and Distribution, to round out the marketing and sales team.
“Virgin Mobile USA has a simple goal — to provide an outstanding wireless experience to its consumers. To achieve this, we have assembled a marketing and brand team that has both a clear vision of consumer marketing, and an obsession with providing an amazing brand experience for consumers,” said Howard Handler, chief marketing officer of Virgin Mobile USA. “Greg, Susan and Bob each bring a wealth of expertise to an already strong team, and we’re pleased to welcome them to Virgin Mobile USA.”
— Greg Castronuovo, vice president, Promotion and Brand Activation, will direct all promotional activities and help drive brand-related initiatives. Prior to joining Virgin Mobile USA, Castronuovo served as vice president, Marketing for World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), where he introduced new programming such as Smackdown! on UPN and a range of domestic and international pay-per-view events. Before that, Castronuovo was vice president, National Promotions, for FOX. In this role, he orchestrated promotional campaigns for Billboard Music Awards, 90210, Party of Five and The Teen Choice Awards. He began his career at NBC where he spent nine years working across the entertainment, sports and news divisions.
— Susan Collins, vice president, Consumer Marketing, will play a lynchpin role at Virgin Mobile USA that will include life cycle management, performance management, competitive tracking and managing Virgin Mobile’s products. Most recently, Collins served as senior vice president, Marketing and Advertising at DIRECTV. She spent 10 years there and played an integral role in building the company and developing the consumer brand that ultimately achieved over 80 percent consumer awareness. Prior to that, she was director of Marketing for Viewers Choice, where she implemented the first national pay-per-view “Nevers” campaign. Collins began her career at Manhattan Cable.
— Bob Stohrer, vice president, Brand and Communications, is charged with advancing the Virgin Mobile brand in the US. Previously, he served as vice president and creative director at the National Football League (NFL), where he managed all aspects of the League’s brand communications including advertising, design and promotion. Stohrer also played a major role in some of the League’s most memorable creative efforts including the development of the “Feel the Power” brand campaign and “Play Football” youth effort, the design of the team identity and game uniforms for the Houston Texans, as well as the brand and advertising launch of NFL.com. During the past two years, Bob managed his own brand consulting and creative shop which allowed him to continue work for the NFL, as well as brands like SoBe Beverages, Island Def Jam Music and Cleveland Golf.
— Craig Gosselin, vice president, Sales and Distribution, leads the team responsible for growing and managing Virgin Mobile USA’s distribution channels. Previously, he was a senior vice president at American Express, where he led a 1,000-person sales and service team and was also responsible for Internet service strategy, new account development and product development. Prior to that, Gosselin was a managing director with Deutsche Bank, where he built and led the worldwide Client Service Organization that supported the Securities Services division. Gosselin also spent 12 years at AT&T where he held multiple leadership roles, including leading large sales organizations, service organizations and product management teams.
About Virgin Mobile USA, LLC:
Virgin Mobile USA, LLC is the first U.S. wireless service designed exclusively around the needs of the youth market. Since its national launch in July 2002, Virgin Mobile has quickly established itself as one of the fastest growing wireless players in the U.S.
Virgin Mobile USA offers a flexible pay-as-you-go price plan with no contracts to sign and no fine print. Virgin Mobile customers get all the essentials, including long distance, voicemail, caller ID, call waiting, text messaging and directory assistance. All customers have access to VirginXtras — a host of music, entertainment, group messaging and fun lifestyle features that add flair and personality to the mobile experience. Virgin Mobile also has a strategic partnership with MTV Networks that includes exclusive content from MTV and VH1 and additional content from Nickelodeon and CMT.
A joint venture between Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group and Sprint, which operates the largest all-digital, all-PCS nationwide wireless network, Virgin Mobile USA is the first mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) in the US. Virgin Mobile phones and top-up cards are available at Best Buy, Circuit City, Media Play, Sam Goody, Target Stores and Virgin Megastores. Top-Up cards are also available at Circle K and 7-Eleven stores. Virgin Mobile wireless products and services are available 24/7 on the Web at or through Virgin Mobile Central Intelligence at 1-888-322-1122.Details
UBS AG has signed a deal to implement a cost saving solution for ATM cash replenishment. Under terms of the deal, NCR will have overall responsibility for the project and has partnered with Transoft International to implement and maintain Transoft’s “OptiCash” and “OptiNet” software. UBS is looking to reduce cash holdings by 25%. The bank has 1,300 ATMs in the country.Details
The U.S. Supreme Court decided yesterday not to hear the case involving local bans on ATM fees. In 1999, San Francisco and the Santa Monica City Council enacted laws banning ATM fees charged by bank’s to non-customers. Last October 2002, a U.S. appeals court ruled against the cities, saying that federal law preempt local laws in most banking issues. Reportedly, officials in both cities were not surprised by yesterday’s decision.Details
Toronto-based Hudson’s Bay Company reported that its financial division posted a 22% gain in first quarter credit card outstandings to $478 million. HBC says the increase in credit card receivables reflects the higher credit card blend at the Bay and Zellers stores and additional third party volumes. As of April 30th, there were 1.4 million active Bay credit card accounts and 1.4 million active Zellers credit card accounts. The current and 30 days past due balance represented 94.5% of the receivable portfolio, compared to 94.9% at April 30, 2002. During the first quarter, the number of charge-off accounts decreased by 8%. Of the dollars charged-off, the value of bankrupt accounts increased from last year by $1.7 million. Net bad debt expense in 1Q/03 of $22.2 million was $4.6 million higher than 1Q/02.Details
A new study has found that bankruptcies as a percentage of credit card charge-off dollars increased to 32% last year compared to 29% in the previous year. BenchMark Consulting International and the Consumer Bankers Association also found that overdraft protection had the highest dollar delinquency rate, at 2.8%, compared to the lowest, home equity lines of credit, at 0.7%. The study encompasses consumer loan and credit card portfolios. Last year, delinquencies were the highest they had been in the past ten study periods at 1.86%. BCI and CBA said this year’s study unveils the 1.34% delinquency rate as the lowest it’s been since 1999.Details
Denver-based BSI2000 has received a purchase contract for a bankcard project in South Africa to test its “Transact 2000” optical card financial transaction unit along with associated software and “LaserCards.” One thousand “eUnity” bank debit cards are planned to be issued and two “Transact 2000” optical card transaction units will be involved in the initial pilot period. The technology is intended to be proven by the partner company in association with a South African organization with two million private members.Details
When it comes to payroll debit cards, state laws requiring free-and-clear access to payroll funds have become a compliance challenge for organizations with employees in multiple states. This morning, Houston-based FSV Payment Systems and Washington, DC-based ATM National have struck a deal to provide surcharge-free ATM access for payroll debit cards, in all 50 states, by mid-July. ATM National is the operator of the new “Allpoint” ATM network which links 23,000 surcharge-free ATMs nationwide. WI-based Fiserv said this morning that it currently offers its payroll debit card program through a relationship with FSV Payment Systems. With the addition of the “Allpoint” network, Fiserv and FSV card programs will deliver more than 37,000 touch points to cardholders. The “Allpoint” network is comprised of ATMs operated by E*Trade Access and Cardtronics. Fiserv already has a relationship with “Allpoint” through its Fiserv EFT/CNS unit, which provides turnkey back-office processing services to the network.Details
American Express has launched its first credit cards in Pakistan via a partnership with Union Bank. The new “Green” and “Gold” credit cards will be targeted at affluent Pakistani consumers. Cardholder benefits include: revolving facility at a service fee of 27%, balance transfer facility at an 18% interest rate, and, an exclusive ÂFounder MemberÂ offer with special recognition and benefits. Union Bank has been managing the American Express cards business in Pakistan by offering AmEx “Personal” and “Gold” charge cards as well as “Corporate Cards. In June 2001 American Express and Union Bank signed an “Independent Operator” agreement allowing Union Bank to conduct American Express Card Service in Pakistan. American Express has established more than 70 card-issuing partnership arrangements in close to 80 countries.Details
Online bill payment exploded in the first quarter as more than $48 billion in payments were made via the ACH. NACHA says the first quarter activity is half of the amount of $96 billion for all of 2002. At the current growth rate, the amount would exceed $200 billion for all of 2003. NACHA noted that in contrast, a recent survey estimated online sales figures of $76 billion for 2002 and $96 billion for 2003. NACHA says credit card issuers have been the leaders in presenting consumer bills on their Web sites and accepting payments online. The ACH Network serves 20,000 financial institutions, 3.5 million businesses, and 135 million individuals. In 2002 there were almost 9 billion ACH payments made worth more than $24.4 trillion.Details
Virgin Mobile USA has inked a deal with four major prepaid wireless phone card distributors to expand its reach to 25,000 individual retail locations in the USA. A joint venture between Virgin Group and Sprint, Virgin Mobile USA, which launched last July, is the first mobile virtual network operator in the US. The Virgin Mobile card charges 25-cents per minute for the first ten minutes of each day, and then 10-cents for every minute thereafter. The “Virgin Mobile Top-Up” card will be available in $20, $30 and $50 denominations. The four new agreements were signed by CellCards, GTS Prepaid, PRE Solutions and InComm. “Virgin Top-Up” cards are now available in nearly 800 Hess gas station stores and CVS drug stores. Virgin Mobile phones and top-up cards are currently available at Best Buy, Circuit City, Media Play, Sam Goody, Target Stores and Virgin Megastores. “Top-Up” cards are also available at Circle K and 7-Eleven stores as well as online through Virgin’s Web site.Details