Experian Gets Wood

Experian has appointed Gary Wood as Managing Director of its expanding fraud prevention business. Gary joins Experian from ABM, a specialist police software business where he was Managing Director. In his new role, Gary will be responsible for spearheading Experian’s growth as a fraud prevention provider, both in the UK and internationally. Working alongside the existing product development team, Gary will help to further develop Experian’s innovative anti-fraud product range and deliver a global fraud strategy to lead the company’s expansion into new markets.

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Double Points

American Express has launched its first-ever double points Membership Rewards promotion centered around the business-to-business category. This week, AmEx launched a special promotion for its OPEN: The Small Business Network. Through July, OPEN Small Business Network cardholders will earn double Membership Rewards points for both offline and online purchases made on an eligible, enrolled charge or credit card from the OPEN Network at participating merchants: FedEx Express and FedEx Ground, IKON Office Solutions, MSC Industrial Supply, Newark Electronics and Mailboxes, Etc. The OPEN Network serves nearly three million customers and is dedicated to those companies with fewer than 100 employees. AmEx launched the OPEN Small Business Network in mid-January. (CF Library 1/18/02)

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Ditch-The-Pitch

The Federal Trade Commission yesterday announced its tenth settlement since 1998 for misrepresentations made in pitching fraudulent credit card protection products to consumers. AZ-based Millennium Industries, Inc., doing business as Premier Consumer Services, was nailed last year in the FTC’s “Ditch the Pitch” Law Enforcement Sweep. Under terms of this week’s settlement, the firm is permanently enjoined from selling credit card protection insurance and from misleading consumers when pitching any other products or services using telemarketing. The order also contains a suspended $1 million judgment that can be reinstated if the defendants are found to have misrepresented their financial condition.

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MAESTRO CARDS

Caixa Economica Federal will surpass the 20 million Maestro debit card mark this summer, to become the largest issuer of Maestro cards in Latin America. With over two thousand bank branches throughout Brazil, CAIXA is Brazil’s largest bank and currently has more than 1.6 million MasterCard credit cards. About 85% of the bank’s credit card portfolio are MasterCards. Maestro is the only online, PIN-based global debit brand that can be used to make purchases and to provide access to cash at ATMs. The Maestro brand mark now appears on over 433 million cards worldwide and is accepted for purchases at more than 5.7 million merchant terminals in 82 countries and territories and at more than 760,000 MasterCard/Maestro/Cirrus ATMs worldwide.

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Consumer Travel

American Express says 29% of Americans are planning a June vacation this year, the same percentage as last year, and 41% plan to travel in July, on par with 44% who planned to travel in July 2001. Overall, the survey found that more Americans plan to take a vacation this year: 62% compared to 55% last year. American Express offers a number of travel tips, including: take small sums of cash and other forms of payment; pack light; and travel with a cell phone.

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VBV & SPA

London-based NTT/VERIO has signed a deal to host Cyota’s Verified by VISA and MasterCard Secure Payment Application solutions to European credit and debit card issuers. The announcement marks Cyota’s first penetration into the European market. Cyota SecureSuite is the only integrated payment security platform that combines Verified by VISA, MasterCard SPA, surrogate numbers, and other
various payment security applications providing a one-stop-shop for credit and debit card issuer’s needs. New York-based Cyota was recently selected by Bank of America to provide a “Verified by VISA” service for its 17 million VISA Check Card holders. Other clients of Cyota currently include First USA, Total Systems, and Leumi Card in Europe.

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Gemplus Leadership

Gemplus, a provider of smart card solutions, yesterday announced that industry analysts have confirmed the company’s market-leading position for the fourth year running. This news reflects a year when the company delivered such technology breakthroughs as Target Corporation’s Target smart Visa card, China Unicom’s first smart card-based CDMA network, NTT DoCoMo’s 3G Launch, and the shipment of the ten millionth Java technology-based smart card to the Financial Services market in the US. Based on an April report released by Eurosmart which analyzed chip card shipments, Gemplus was shown to have a 34% share of the global market.

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FIFA PROMOTION

Latin America travel services provider Despegar.com, Inc. and MasterCard International, an official sponsor of the 2002 FIFA World Cup Korea/Japan, announced a joint promotion. MasterCard will provide
free match tickets to its cardholders who purchase their vacations to Korea and Japan during the 2002 FIFAWorld Cup with a MasterCard card at Despegar.com. As part of the promotion, MasterCard will launch an aggressive online marketing campaign to communicate the benefits of the promotion to Despegar’s 3 million users. In addition, both companies will collaborate on a traditional media effort to further convey the promotional activities. Miami-based Despegar.com currently operates in 9 countries throughout Latin America, Spain and the US., employing more than 150 travel professionals regionwide.

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STRATUS CARD

U.S. Bank and Atlanta-based Skylight Financial have signed a contract to provide employees of BJC HealthCare with the Stratus PayCard Account. BJC HealthCare is one of the largest non-profit health-care organizations in the USA, with more than 26,000 employees and net revenues of $2.2 billion. The program being rolled out by BJC HealthCare allows employees of BJC several banking options which enable them to receive their payroll checks via direct deposit. They can elect either the U.S. Bank Work Place Banking account or the Skylight Stratus PayCard Account. The pre-approved Stratus PayCard Account is an FDIC insured, checkless account, which provides an alternative to check cashing companies for employees who do not have a bank account. The Stratus PayCard provides access to more than 200,000 ATMs (over 9,000 of those are surcharge free), and over 800,000 POS locations. Skylight Corporation initially formed an alliance with Firstar Bank in August 2000 to offer the “Stratus Card.” Firstar has since merged with U.S. Bank. (CF Library 1/25/02).

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OPC Acquired

CA-based Tier Technologies, Inc. announced this morning an agreement to acquire Official Payments Corporation for approximately $74.5 million in cash. Last year, OPC processed more than one million transactions totaling over $1.2 billion in tax and fee payments, and is a primary credit card payment partner of the IRS. OPC has an 87% market share of credit card payments made to the IRS and has annual revenue of approximately $32 million. The firm is currently the only company to offer consumers the ability to make integrated federal, state, and local tax payments. The company’s services enable consumers to pay their government taxes, fees, fines, and utility bills by credit card, via the Internet, and by telephone. Founded in 1996, OPC has agreements to collect and process credit card payments with the IRS, 21 state governments, and more than 1,200 counties and municipalities. The acquisition will expand Tier Technologies’ transaction processing business. Tier currently processes more than $2 billion in child support payments for eight states in the U.S. It is expected that Tier will retain the Official Payments brand, as well as its existing sales, marketing, engineering, and customer service operations and data center. Tier is a vertically-focused global consulting firm that provides business and information technology consulting, systems design and integration, transaction processing, business process outsourcing, and business process reengineering for its clients primarily in the state and local government, healthcare, insurance, and utilities markets. Tier reported first calendar quarter revenues, from continuing operations, of $22.1 million as compared to $26.4 million in the quarter ended March 31, 2001. Shares of Official Payments closed yesterday at $2, off a 52-week high of $6. The deal is expected to be completed by early August.

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AmEx Pakistan

Karachi-based Union Bank this week signed an agreement with American Express to issue Rupee-billed American Express Cards in Pakistan. The launch follows the signing of an Independent Operator Agreement between Union and AmEx in July 2001, under which Union Bank issues and markets American Express Cards in Pakistan, signs new merchant locations, and provides customer services to both cardholders and merchants in the country. Now consumers in Pakistan can choose to have either a US Dollar denominated American Express Card or a Rupee-billed Card. American Express established Global Network Services in 1997 to form strategic alliances with banks and financial institutions around the world to issue cards on American Express’ global merchant network. To date, GNS has built 76 partnership arrangements in close to 80 countries around the world.

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SAGEM CERTIFICATION

Paris-based SAGEM has been awarded the EMV level 2 certification by Europay International for its D-920 and D-950 payment terminals. SAGEM says it is among the first manufacturers to fulfill the software requirements set by EMV. The Company says the Level 2 accreditation as well as the deployment of smart cards in numerous countries will allow SAGEM to penetrate new markets and open new development perspectives.

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