Y2K Travel Advisory

VISA International and Rosenbluth International announced Thursday the ‘Global Travel 2000 Initiative’. The consumer education program is designed to ease Year 2000 fiscal and travel concerns. Among suggestions for year-end and new-year travelers: get a paper ticket in lieu of an e-ticket, carry travelers cheques and make copies of all financial records. VISA International and Rosenbluth International have a long history of joint ventures. VISA, along with 20 other organizations, is a participant in ‘The Continuum’, a working research and development laboratory housed at Rosenbluth International’s World Headquarters.

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MasterCard Net

Network Alchemy announced that MasterCard International is deploying Network Alchemy’s secure site-to-site Internet commerce equipment to connect its corporate sites to its data centers in St Louis and Detroit. Alchemy’s ‘CryptoCluster’ provides non-stop communication and true online scalability, delivering real-time expansion, maintenance and relocation without any downtime.

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Free ATMs

Houston-based CompuBank, the first virtual national bank, launched an Internet service to provide consumers with a comprehensive list of surcharge-free ATMs throughout the continental United States. ‘FreeATMs.com’ offers consumers a way to find surcharge-free ATMs by simply clicking on a state and by a search function based on bank name, street address, city, state or zip code. Consumers also have the option to map a specific ATM location. CompuBank refunds other banks’ ATM surcharges for its customers, up to four per month at $1.50 each.

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Planet Payment

Cable & Wireless and Planet Payment have partnered to provide a commerce switch to route credit card transactions to credit card processors worldwide. This will enable Internet merchants to accept credit cards online in most currencies. The platform will initially connect to Bank of Bermuda’s new multi-currency credit card processing system. The wholesale processing platform will also enable banks to offer multi-currency-processing services to their merchants seeking to accept credit cards on the Internet.

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Merchant Index

NextCard’s monthly ‘eCommerce Index’ indicates strong pre-holiday online shopping activity. Amazon.com, AOL, and Barnesandnoble.com ranked as three top merchants of the Internet for October. NextCard says EToys has moved rapidly onto its top 25 list of the most active web merchants. Pets.com showed a 684% in transaction volume last month, ranking it #1 on NextCard’s ‘e-Commerce Movers’.

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SCSUG

American Express, Europay International, MasterCard International, Mondex International and Visa International announced Thursday a new initiative to create common security guidelines for the smart card industry. The initiative includes the formation of the Smart Card Security Users Group, coordinated by the US National Information Assurance Partnership, and with the cooperation of the international Common Criteria Management Committee. The group will share information on security threats and security requirements, focusing on both chip hardware and smart card operating systems. The first goal of the group is to produce a ‘Protection Profile’ for smart cards.

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Gemplus Partnership

Baltimore Technologies and Gemplus announced both the integration of their technologies and a sales and marketing agreement. Baltimore has incorporated Gemplus ‘GemSAFE’ smart cards into its PKI solutions portfolio, offering customers the choice of using this integrated technology for added security and manageability in a variety of e-commerce applications. Baltimore products such as ‘UniCERT’, ‘MailSecure’ and ‘PKI-Plus’ will support Gemplus ‘GemSAFE’ smart cards in future versions.

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Green Xmas

American shoppers will spend $1,558 for gifts, entertaining, decorations and travel during the upcoming holiday season. The annual American Express Retail Index says US consumers will crank up spending by 16% this year, marking the highest annual growth in holiday spending since the survey was introduced in 1995. Of the 800 consumers surveyed, 26% said they planned to use the Internet in some way this holiday season. Among those who said they will shop on-line, almost half (42%), say it is their first time using the Internet to buy holiday gifts. For those who said they will not shop on-line, 47% cited not having access to a computer or the Internet; 21% said they prefer to actually see the item; while others are concerned about online security (20%), privacy (16%), and return policies (10%). The AmEx survey indicates shoppers will use a combination of cash (89%), checks (45%), credit cards (59%), and ATM/debit cards (16%) to pay for holiday purchases. Of those using credit cards, 52% will pay the total balance when the bill arrives. In addition, 24% of credit card users said they are using plastic to pay for purchases in order to earn reward points for their holiday spending, while 12% plan to redeem credit card reward program points to obtain gifts. AmEx says this year’s hottest toy is Pokemon.

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DataSafe Marketing

Two industry veterans have joined to form a new enhancement and loyalty service firm called: DataSafe Marketing, LLC. Bob May, former president/CEO of Credit Card Sentinel, and Jim Rothe, former EVP of Credentials Services, established the firm with offices in Delaware and Los Angeles. The new company offers card issuers fee-based enhancement services such as credit card protection, credit report monitoring, travel-related programs, and other loyalty programs. However the firm says it can market its fee services to cardholders without the need for the card issuer to release cardholder names or other account information.

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