ICMA 2003

The International Card Manufacturers Association announced yesterday it will hold its “12th Annual EXPO”, November 9-12, in Cancun, Mexico. The theme of this year’s EXPO is “Business Strategies for a Slow Economy.” Michael Swiecicki, president and CEO, Plastag Corporation, will serve as the conference chairman. This year there will be simultaneous Spanish translation of all EXPO sessions. The EXPO will also include its yearly awards banquet with the presentation of the “Élan Awards for Card Manufacturing Excellence” and “Outstanding Member Service” and the ICMA “Spiritus Award.”

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Gift Cards

A new survey on gift card purchasers and users shows that middle income families and high income professionals are the primary gift card buyers, accounting for 60% of gift card purchases as a whole. The study also found that the average dollar value of purchased gift cards last year, among all consumers, is $50. However, adults 65 and older maintain the highest average dollar value when purchasing cards, $77. The ValueLink/Omnibus survey of more than 1,200 consumers aged 18 or older also found that males were more likely to load higher dollar amounts on their purchased cards, $58 versus $45 for females. Males also received more cards than females in 2002, 31% and 28%, respectively. Approximately 70% of gift card buyers fall between the ages of 25 and 54, most are married with children, and are full-time employees with some level of college education.

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SMART LABEL READER

Paris-based ASK S.A. unveiled a handheld RF reader for use with contactless smart labels, becoming the first company to achieve commercial production of
a paper-based contactless smart label. The reader complements the “C.label,” ASK’s recently announced family of contactless paper-based smart label products.
The new “C.scan” is suitable for data capture, and is capable of personalizing, reading, modifying and controlling contactless RFID labels. The reader is designed for asset management, supply chain management and parcel tracking.

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IPayment IPO

iPayment’s IPO finally hit the market yesterday after being delayed last week due to the involvement of an analyst in a video promoting the offering. The payment card processor for small merchants confirmed Monday that its IPO was priced $16.00 per share on Friday, thus grossing $80 million, before underwriting discounts and commissions. iPayment’s says it intends to use $46.1 million of the net proceeds from the offering for the repayment of outstanding indebtedness, $5.0 million for working capital, and the remainder for general corporate purposes, including potential acquisitions. The stock hit $21.83 yesterday and opened this morning at $19.30. The IPO was scheduled to price last Thursday and trade Friday. However, questions were raised after it was publicized that Bear Stearns analyst James Kissane was involved in the promotion of the issue. Bear Stearns says it has apologized to the SEC and the New York Attorney General’s office over the conflict of interest. Bear, Stearns & Co., Thomas Weisel Partners, and Wachovia Securities, were co-managers of the offering. (CF Library 5/9/03)

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HSBC & BT

HSBC has won a five-year contract to provide VISA corporate cards to BT employees worldwide. BT issued a request for proposal to major corporate card issuers in August 2002. The contract covers BT users predominantly in the UK, but also in Asia-Pacific, Europe, and the USA. Employing over 100,000 people, BT is one of the world’s leading providers of telecommunications services and one of the largest private sector companies in Europe. The BT global corporate card program is the largest in the UK and Europe, with over 35,000 corporate cards in issue, and represents an annual spend of over £100 million.

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Big Mac Payments

American Express and Hypercom have partnered to launch their third pilot to test card payment capabilities at the outside order board of a McDonald’s drive-thru. Hypercom is using its “HFT 500” outdoor card payment terminal which is embedded directly in the drive-through menu board or can be a standalone unit. The device features a durable all-climate keyboard, a backlit display, and integrated PIN Pad. The payment terminal connects directly to the in-store cash register system or, in this case, Hypercom’s “ICE 5500.” The payment transaction details are handled by the in-store system or they can be transmitted directly from the terminal to American Express for virtually instantaneous authorization. The latest pilot is being conducted in North Babylon, NY. The two previous tests were launched in in West Islip and North Lyndhurst, NY. The pilot in North Babylon is scheduled for the next three months and could be rolled out to additional McDonald’s restaurants in Long Island after that.

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