ACE Loses CFO

ACE Cash Express, Inc., the nation’s largest check-cashing chain and a significant provider of related retail financial services, announced that Joe W. Conner, Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, has resigned, effective April 18, 2003, to become the Chief Operating Officer of Silverleaf Resorts, a public company headquartered in Dallas, Texas, that specializes in vacation and country club membership in quality resorts.

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Issuers & DMPS

A new report released yesterday found that the business practices of credit card issuers are contributing to a crisis in the credit counseling industry. The report by The National Consumer Law Center and Consumer Federation of America says that most creditors are becoming increasingly unwilling to reduce interest rates for consumers who enter debt management programs, waive fees, or re-age accounts. In the last four years, five of 13 major credit card issuers have increased the interest rate they offer to consumers in DMPs (Bank One/First USA, Discover, Chase Manhattan, Fleet and Wells Fargo). Only two creditors, Providian and Capital One, have lowered rates during the same period, however, Capital One’s interest rate remains relatively high at 15.9%. Sears, which generally charges interest rates above 20%, continues to refuse to negotiate any discount. Bank of America, on the other hand, will completely eliminate interest for consumers in a DMP. The NCLC/CFA also found other differences among credit card issuers and DMPs. For example, American Express refuses to re-age accounts under any circumstances and Capital One will not waive or reduce late fees or over-limit fees under a DMP.

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7-Eleven En-Touch

7-Eleven has implemented Ingenico “eN-Touch 1000” touch-screen and signature terminals in approximately 5,300 7-Eleven convenience stores in the USA. In addition, 7-Eleven has installed eN-Concert Store and eN-Concert Insight at all locations. This software helps manage store-level transactions and prompts customers for their PIN when a check card is tendered. Also included in the agreement is customer software development and TotalCARE services, which cover ongoing maintenance.

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Home Improvement

While travel-related spending has nose-dived in the face of war and SARS, Americans may make up for the spending decline by investing in home improvements this spring. The “2003 American Express Home Improvement Index,” released this week, shows that, on average, home improvement budgets will rise to $3,796 this year, up 31% from $2,888 in 2000, and 42% from $2,660 in 1997, the year the survey launched. Half of home improvers will spend more than $2,000, up from 39% three years ago. In addition, households with income of $50,000 or more will spend $4,267 this year, up 12% from $3,800 in 2000. To cover larger-ticket projects, AmEx found that consumers will explore a wide range of funding sources. Most will draw from their savings (76%), while others will use tax refunds (17%), home improvement loans (9%), a company bonus (7%), gift money or gift certificates (7%), mortgage refinancing (6%), and sales of stock or other assets (2%). To pay for home improvement projects, consumers will use cash (74%), credit cards (44%), checks (42%), ATM or debit cards (19%), gift cards (8%), store cards (6%), and credit card rewards (4%).

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Precidia & T3

Precidia Technologies Inc., a global leader in the design and manufacture of Internet Protocol access devices, announced a strategic alliance with Transaction Transport Technologies, LLC. This alliance will team T3’s Virtual Private Network service with Precidia’s Ether232 or EtherDial products, and will provide merchants with a complete IP enabled point-of-sale solution.

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Control-Pay

Orbiscom has introduced a new solution that enables card issuers to drive increased card usage among families with teens and young adults by enabling the account holder to set controls and monitor how family members or other authorized users utilize the parent’s credit line. “ControlPay” also offers enhanced controls at the transaction level,including controls that limit maximum spend per transaction and expiration date. Additionally, “ControlPay” features individual comprehensive monthly statements and complete web-based servicing. The solution is available for all card issuers and all card brands. The product also supports MasterCard’s new “Family Account Program.”

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E-TOP-UP DEAL

The U.K.’s fourth grocery retailer has signed a contract with Euronet Worldwide’s e-pay subsidiary to launch electronic top-up services. Safeway, which supports approximately 8 million U.K. shoppers every week, will now enable consumers to add prepaid minutes to their mobile phone accounts at its more than 480 grocery outlets. The new e-pay service is fully integrated with Safeway’s own electronic point-of-sale system. With the Safeway deal, Euronet’s e-pay will now provide top-up services to four out of the five leading supermarket chains in the U.K. The company currently supports top-up purchases for mobile service providers at more than 50,000 POS terminals in approximately 18,000 retail locations. Euronet acquired e-pay in February.

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Hypercom Milestone

Hypercom reported this week it has shipped its six millionth card payment terminal with the recent shipment of “T7Plus” terminals with “SureLoad” printing technology to NOVA Information Systems. Hypercom has been celebrating its silver anniversary this week at the ETA Exhibition in Las Vegas. The company was founded by George Wallner in 1978 as a provider of communications products in Australia. It switched to transaction products in 1982. One year later, Hypercom expanded into Asia and, in 1987, it established a U.S. subsidiary in Phoenix. In 1990, the company relocated its headquarters to Phoenix. In 1991, the company expanded into Latin America and in 1996, the firm established operations in Europe. Over the past few weeks the company announced multi-million dollar terminal orders from PayRight, MSI, and Abanco International. Hypercom also announced this week it has named the NJ headquarters of MSI Merchant Services “ISO of the Year” for 2002. (CF Library 3/19/03; 4/1/03: and 4/2/03)

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METACARD

Fiserv CBS Worldwide has introduced a software solution that manages all facets of a credit card program through issuer and acquirer functions, fraud alert, loyalty programs and authorizations. The new “MetaCard” solution, announced this week in Amsterdam, is available as fully integrated or modular software for multi-bank and multi-product processing. It also offers private-label processing, major purchase plans, transaction-based pricing and full card issuance. “MetaCard” also allows multiple loyalty programs to work with both the issuer and acquirer modules. The fraud alert and authorizations modules are rules-based systems. In 2001, Fiserv CBS Worldwide strategically entered the credit card industry by purchasing the assets of Columbian-based Compania Latinoamericana de Software. The assets included “FACT 400” credit card solution used extensively in Latin America.

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Verifone Upgrades

VeriFone this week introduced a smaller footprint version of its “Omni 3200” terminal, which was originally introduced in 1999. The new “Omni 3200SE” offers 1MB of memory, increased performance, and a clam-shell printer design. The Omni “3210SE” variant includes an integrated PINpad supporting 3DES. The payment card terminal manufacturer also enhanced its “Omni 3750” countertop terminal and its “Omni 3600” wireless terminal to support advanced IP technology. This new capability allows transactions to be completed in about three seconds, considerably faster than traditional dial methods. Verifone also released this week its “VeriCentre LE Download Management System” which provides small to mid-size ISO organizations with increased productivity at the lowest cost per download through a single, highly efficient terminal management solution. VeriFone says it has shipped over ten million electronic-payment systems to-date.

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