Gift Card Mall Launches Facebook eGifting

The Blackhawk Network announced a new Facebook application helping consumers give gift cards almost instantly through the social networking website. Through its Gift Card Mall and GiftCardMall.com, the Blackhawk Network is introducing its “eGift Card” social network gifting application option through the “Group Gifting” feature onl Facebook. With this, Facebook friends are now able to contribute as a group for a single gift card to increase the value of the gift card for the recipient. A personalized message can also be added to a card and fellow users can remind others about friends’ upcoming holidays and celebrations. After purchase, the eGift Card is posted on the recipient’s Facebook wall and a personalized confirmation and activation code is sent to their email address for added security.

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Brinks Acquires Payments Threshold Payments

The Brink’s security-related services has acquired CA-based Threshold Financial Technologies from Versent Corporation for approximately $40 million. A provider of payments solutions with a focus on managed ATM and transaction processing services for financial institutions and retailers throughout Canada, Threshold Financial Technologies annual revenue is approximately $48 million. Half of Threshold Financial Technologies revenue is generated by providing outsourced ATM network administration and transaction processing solutions. The company employs approximately 125 people and owns and operates a network of private-label ATMs in Canada.

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PayPal Account Holders Grow +20% Since 2008

Reflecting its major growth since 2008, 76% of Americans now have an active PayPal account, up from the 2-year figure of 55%. PayPal has grown beyond a product only useful for eBay transactions for American consumers. These findings, according to the Auriemma Consulting Group, also show 69% of those 45 and older have an active PayPal account, many of whom are more comfortable using it than credit cards for online shopping. Additional findings show gains in consumer use frequency from an average of 10.8 purchases a year in 2008 to 14.0 annual purchases in the most recent study. PayPal still accounts for less than 10% of total online sales volume but posted a 27% increase over 2009 in Black Friday online payments.

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Ukash e-Money Implements iovation Fraud Protection

Ukash e-money network is implementing iovation “ReputationManager 360” for global fraud protection across its line of e-commerce payment services. Ukash lets users convert their cash into electronic money which can then be spent at participating merchants, reloaded into e-wallets and prepaid cards or sent around the world. With this, Ukash is kicking off its “NEO” virtual prepaid MasterCard which can only be obtained with a Ukash voucher and allows consumers to spend at any website accepting MasterCard. Meanwhile, the iovation “ReputationManager 360” is a comprehensive fraud prevention solution that combines customizable business rules, risk profiles, and the shared experiences of more than 2000 fraud analysts from leading brands worldwide to help online businesses stop criminals before they have a chance to do damage to their business and customers.

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Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s Launch mRewards App

CKE Restaurants announced its Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s divisions is set to launch its “Happy Star Rewards” GPS-enabled loyalty program. Rewarding users for checking in at Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s locations across the U.S., the “Happy Star Rewards” application is available for iPhone and Android smart phones, combines location-based check-in technology with rewards. Users who download the app on the iTunes App Store or Android Market can visit any Carl’s Jr. or Hardee’s location and check in to start earning rewards immediately. The first check-in and every subsequent fourth check-in earns the user a spin on “The Wheel of Awesome” rewards application already present on both brands’ Facebook pages. Users then spin it with their finger for a chance to win discounted and free menu items, branded gift cards, prizes and merchandise from participating partners.

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BluePay Introduces Card Payment at Pump

IL-based BluePay secure payment processing is now offering pay at the pump processing capabilities at low rates. With this, Blupay can now allow its gas station and convenience store clients to accept credit cards, debit cards and fleet cards directly at the fuel pump. Pump processing involves the same basic equipment as in-store credit card terminals, with the ability to swipe and read credit cards, enter PINs and even print out receipts right at the pump. With BluePay merchant accounts, gas stations can also accept fleet cards, which allow drivers and employers to keep track of fuel and maintenance expenses for company vehicles. BluePay full-service, Tier 1 credit card processor implements industry experience and a comprehensive suite of credit card merchant processing services.

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Smart Card Alliance IDC Announces Focus

Guiding the creation of strong identity management foundations for citizen and government identity programs is the focus for the coming year, the Smart Card Alliance Identity Council said recently. The Identity Council also announced new officers and a steering committee, and recently held a workshop on the Personal Identity Verification (PIV) Interoperable (PIV-I) card at its 9th Annual Smart Cards in Government: Identity, Security & Healthcare Conference in November in Washington D.C. The Identity Council is made up of more than 80 individuals from over 40 end user, chip vendor, systems integrator, card vendor, biometrics provider, identity system and software vendor organizations. With more than 800 registrants and 50 exhibitors and sponsors, the 9th Annual Smart Cards in Government: Identity, Security & Healthcare Conference is the largest annual event for the government identity and security sector.

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VoiceCash and mobilcom Launch Prepaid Mastercard

VoiceCash Group and mobilcom-debitel are announcing the “mobilcash Prepaid MasterCard.” The Prepaid MasterCard card twin card program lets users share money with relatives and friends all over the world. With the prepaid twin cards money can easily be assigned from one card to the partner card, whom have immediate access to the available balance. The cards can be managed online, via mobile phone SMS commands, or with the voice authentication system and can be used for payment at more than 30 million POS and withdrawal at more than 2 million ATMs. mobilcom-debitel is a telecom provider in the German market with about a 16 million customer base while VoiceCash is an international mobile remittance company with its own VoiceCash Bank, that is fully passported in all European countries.

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Card Payment Direct Promotes Sales Director

Daniel Diaz has been promoted Executive Sales Director at Card Payment Direct. Bringing a history of sales expertise in the industry, 6 years in the bankcard industry alone, he is seasoned in payment processing sales, project management and operations. He will leverage and develop the talents of a large team of sales professionals and work synergistically with them to develop new and existing markets for the company. Card Payment Direct is a leading provider of Wholesale Payment Processing Services to businesses nationwide and a source of credit, debit, check services, gift and loyalty cards, and business financial services.

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ASSA ABLOY to Acquire LaserCard

LaserCard secure ID solutions has entered into a definitive agreement whereby ASSA ABLOY AB will acquire its assets for $6.25 per share through a cash tender offer for a total of approximately $80 million. This per share price represents a premium of approximately 38% over the closing price of LaserCard shares on December 17, 2010 and a premium of 42% over the 20-day average of closing prices. LaserCard will become part of ASSA ABLOY’s HID Global business with LaserCard’s secure identity products, solutions and services complementing HID Global’s identity solution offering. A subsidiary of ASSA ABLOY will commence a cash tender offer to acquire LaserCard’s outstanding shares of common stock at $6.25 per share, net to each holder in cash. Upon satisfaction of the conditions to the tender offer and after such time as all shares tendered in the tender offer are accepted for payment, the agreement provides for the parties to effect, subject to customary closing conditions, a merger to be completed following completion of the tender offer which would result in all shares not tendered in the tender offer being converted into the right to receive $6.25 per share in cash.

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Vanilla Visa Awards Gift Cards to Schools

Vanilla Visa network-branded gift card is giving the Los Angeles Unified
School District (LAUSD) 100 Vanilla Visa Gift Cards valued at $100 each
for select teachers to use as needed. This is partly in response to
research from National School Supply and Equipment Association (NSSEA)
indicating 92% of teachers spend their personal money on school
supplies, and the average amount spent in 2009 was $170 per year.
Teachers at the selected schools were chosen because students showed
marked improvement in test scores during this year’s first periodic
assessment, often a strong indicator of how they will perform on the
annual California Standards Tests (CST).

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Amendment Puts $11.8B Debit Revenue at Stake

In the US banking industry, $11.8 BN of the current $16.2 BN generated in debit interchange revenue could possibly vanish. Based on the proposed draft rules announced by the Federal Reserve on December 16, debit interchange revenue for regulated card issuers will decline by 73%, from an average of $0.44 per transaction to $0.12 per transaction by July 21. This, according to the latest Oliver Wyman report “The US debit Market and the Durbin Amendment: Worse than the worst case scenario,” indicates the economics of debit card programs will become significantly unprofitable. After having grown between 2000-2009 at an average annual rate of 18% to become the most commonly used non-cash method of payment, debit card transactions totaled 37.9 billion in the US in 2009 alone to account for 35% of total non-cash retail payments. Currently, card issuers generate an average of $87 of revenue per active consumer debit card per year, but starting on July 21st, for banks with at least $10 BN in assets, this figure will drop to $24 per year. This comes after agreements were met in the spring with key conferees on the Wall Street reform bill regarding the Durbin amendment to regulate interchange fees, which passed the Senate 64-33. Modifications to the Durbin interchange amendment regulated interchange fees associated with debit or prepaid cards issued by large banks on behalf of government-administered payment programs; defines “interchange transaction fee” to include debit card fees that are established by a payment card network; and provides that the Fed cannot regulate network fees. It also provides card networks can no longer prevent merchants from offering customers a discount to use one card network vs. another and card networks cannot prevent merchants from offering a discount for one form of payment vs. another (cash vs. check vs. credit vs. debit) (CardFlash Library, 2010/12/22).

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