Restaurant Spend Volume Showing Recovery Signs

Tracking data show full service restaurant performance declined just 6% in
September compared with 12% for the month of August. Average check price
has decreased 5.5%, with chain restaurants declining only 4.4% compared
with independents, down 6.4%. The new monthly “SalesMetrics” report
released by GuestMetrics and Technomic combines actual POS data from
over 2,700 national full service independent and chain restaurants.
Guest check data is collected, aggregated and analyzed to identify
regional sales performance trends, day part, cuisine, guest traffic and
average check shifts in consumer usage and spending. Performance trends
analyzed by cuisine types varied dramatically with seafood restaurants
posting the smallest decline (-0.5%) and steak restaurants declining
more significantly (-12.3%). In general, guest traffic decreased 6.1% in
September. Chain restaurants declined by 6.6%, with independent
restaurants showing only a 5.7% decrease.


Card Accounts Down 114MM Since Recession Start

The number of general purpose credit card accounts has been dropping
precipitously during the year-old “Credit Crunch,” declining from a peak
of 573 million accounts at the start of the “Great Recession” in
December 2007 to 459 million at the end of the third quarter. According
to CardData, all of the nation’s top issuers report steady erosion in
their cardbase. Chase reports it cardbase has dropped 15% over the past
year, falling from 171.9 million cards for 3Q/08 to 146.6 million for
3Q/09. The nation’s #1 issuer also reports it opened 2.4 million net new
accounts during the third quarter, compared to the typical 4.0 million
opened per quarter during 2008. American Express reports its U.S.
cardbase has dropped 11% in 3Q/09 to 29.7 million cards. Citi also
reports an 11% decline, dropping from 61.1 million accounts for 3Q/08 to
54.6 million for 3Q/09. The number of MasterCard credit card accounts
dropped 21% between 2Q/08 and 2Q/09. The number of Visa credit card
accounts declined 8% between 1Q/08 and 1Q/09. Visa will report second
quarter figures today and MasterCard will report third quarter figures
next week. For more details on third quarter credit card performance
visit CardData (

(Visa, MasterCard, Discover & American Express)
3Q/07: 564 million
4Q/07: 573 million
1Q/08: 565 million
2Q/08: 561 million
3Q/08: 552 million
4Q/08: 544 million
1Q/09: 519 million
2Q/09: 476 million
3Q/09: 459 million
Source: CardData (



INSIDE Contactless advanced open-standard contactless chip technologies
has introduced its “MicroPass 6000” dual-interface intelligent payment
processor. Designed as an EMV-compliant platform for a new family of
MicroPass, the “MicroPass 6000” offers flexibility, efficiency and fast
time to market for card manufacturers and issuers with both contact and
contactless operation. The core payment platform expands INSIDE’s
multi-brand, multi-application offerings on a dual-interface platform
designed to meet high-volume requirements of EMV markets. Additionally,
the “MicroPass 6000” platform supports both ISO 14443-B contactless and
ISO 7816 contact protocols and is designed to be compliant with both EMV
CL v1.1 and v2.0, type B and EMV v4.1 Book 1 interoperability standards.


Piggybacking Remains Viable Despite FICO 08

A Denver firm says its research shows that “FICO 08” will not affect most consumers for many years and that the “piggybacking” strategy for building credit remains alive and well. BoostMyScore.NET says it will take time for “FICO 08” to permeate the entire financial industry in America due to the costly upgrade. “Piggybacking” is when one person with good credit rents out an “Authorized User” spot on their credit card to another person for a small fee. BoostMyScore.NET also noted that when “FICO 08” does take hold, credit scores will decline nationally. While leniency will be practiced on missed payments, most consumers will see a reduction in their score as a result of the tighter restrictions against those with higher debt levels and high credit ratios.



“Mortal Online” Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game (MMORPG)
is is planned for introduction by the end of the year. Allowing players
to pay for the license and monthly subscriptions, Sweden-based Star
Vault has signed an agreement with GlobalCollect to process credit
cards, direct debits and alternative payments in Europe and the US.
GlobalCollect Payment Service Provider provides e-payment solutions for
international Customer Not-Present (CNP) channels such as internet, mail
and telephone orders and specializes in travel, ticketing,
telecommunications, retail, publishing, portals, online gaming, and
digital content.


NetSpend Extends the Acxiom Contract

With an extended agreement, NetSpend will continue to benefit from
Acxiom’s 40 years of experience and innovation. Acxiom “PanOptic-XTM Data Quality” services were implemented in 45 days
and in full production within two months, enabling NetSpend to quickly
reap the benefits of accurate, real-time customer data. The solution
also uses Acxiom’s AbiliTec® linking technology to accurately track
customers as they move through NetSpend’s customer acquisition and
lifecycle programs. Acxiom pioneered the
introduction of customer data integration (CDI) to the marketplace
nearly 10 years ago with the creation of proprietary linking technology.



American Express reports that gross dollar volume on its international cards topped $55 billion in the third quarter, rising 10%, as the recovery outside USA gains ground. However, the AmEx international cardbase declined to 32.8 million cards, compared to 33.4 million in the prior quarter and 34.3 million one year ago. International card income soared by 90% to $127 million, as total revenues net of interest expense decreased 7%, provisions for losses decreased 21% and expenses decreased by 16%. As a result, the pretax margin jumped to 11.1% for the third quarter, compared with 0.1% for 3Q/08. “Marketing, Promotion, Rewards and Cardholder Services” Expenses decreased 22%, reflecting reduced marketing and promotion expenses and lower rewards costs. “Discount Revenue, Net Card Fees and Other” declined 10%, driven primarily by the lower level of card spending, decreased other commissions and fees, lower other revenues and reduced travel commissions and fees, partially offset by an increase in net card fees. For complete details on American Express’ third quarter performance visit CardData (


TranZfinity Unveils the Myztro POS Solution

Transaction solution provider TranZfinity has launched the “Myztro”
mobile RFID POS solution. By using an existing mobile phone along with
and a secure mobile POS application, merchants can now
move freely, offering secure transactions for their customers anywhere,
anytime. Although closed-loop pre-paid card schemes will be certified
first, it is expected that this solution will ultimately support
MasterCard PayPass, Visa payWave and even PayPal Mobile in the
coming months. On the merchant side, the only requirement is an NFC
enabled mobile
phone (which includes existing NFC handsets or handsets enabled with NFC
peripheral devices like Myztro) and a secure payment application running
on the mobile phone. On the consumer side, the only requirement is
either a contactless card (80 million have already been issued in the
US), a passive payment “sticker” attached
to their mobile phone, or a more interactive peripheral NFC enabler like
Myztro. The consumer solution will also be compatible with native NFC
handsets. Besides true transaction mobility, one additional major
advantage for merchants is that they will be able to take advantage of
lower overall transaction rates when compared with other mobile
solutions that require the merchant to enter card information manually.


Card Manufacturing Hits a Sluggish 2008

The number of cards manufactured last year was essentially flat last year. The latest ICMA survey reveals 19.4 billion cards were manufactured globally, up 60 basis points from 2007. The dollar market also increased by 4.3% to $9.7 billion in 2008. North America held its position as the largest producer of cards, with more than 8.8 billion cards manufactured in 2008. The Asia Pacific region continues to gain global share with 4.9 billion units manufactured. Europe remained in the third position with 4.1 billion units manufactured, followed by Latin America with one billion units manufactured and the Middle East/Africa (MEA) with half a billion units manufactured.


Accuvant PCI Select DSS is Released

IT security and risk management consultant Accuvant announced that its
“PCI Select DSS Merchant Suite” is available.
“PCI Select” is recommended for Level 1 and 2 merchants that are
familiar with PCI requirements but need assistance completing PCI
Merchants can pick the services that make the most sense for their needs
and environment as well as complete mandatory assessments. This includes:
“PCI Gap Analysis” to assess current security posture, identify
gaps, receive remediation recommendations and develop a roadmap; “PCI
Scope Reduction” to
save time and money with solutions that reduce or eliminate PCI scope;
“PCI Portal” to manage compliance year-round with online compliance
status reporting and remediation results tracking; “PCI Scans”,
quarterly or on-demand external validation scans to
ensure systems remain complaint; “Penetration Testing” to discover
vulnerabilities to provide remediation recommendations and “Onsite
Assessment with QSA”.

PCI Simplified

PCI Simplified is an Accuvant subscription service designed to do just
that – to simplify PCI DSS requirements and provide merchants with an
easy way to validate compliance for acquirers, banks and processors.
This new, customizable offering is designed specifically for Level 2, 3
and 4 merchants and is structured as follows:

* Online PCI compliance validation for your acquirer, bank or
processor – achieved through the Annual Self-Assessment Questionnaire
and/or Approved Scan Vendor quarterly scans.
* Access to the Accuvant Learning Center, an online knowledge base
that explains PCI control requirements and provides security awareness
* On-demand consulting with PCI QSA.
* Policy, procedure and standards templates to get your
documentation started.
* Managed services – Accuvant partners manage required PCI
technology so you don’t have to.


New President for Payment Vision Autoscribe

Payment gateway provider Payment Vision Gateway Services has tapped Gregory R. Adelson to serve as
President and Chief Operating Officer of its Autoscribe division.
Adelson will provide leadership and strategic direction in assuming the day-to-day
responsibility for running the company from founder Robert E. Pollin,
who will continue to serve as CEO, effective October 23, 2009.
Over the last four years Payment Vision has emerged as the popular
choice of small and medium-sized businesses for its ease of use and
managed suite of multi-channel billing services. With the introduction
of innovative technologies such as “Flexible Settlement”, “Integrated
Payment Channels”, and token-based “Payment API”, service adoption has
caught on quickly with larger billing organizations.


AmEx Nonprofit Leadership Academy Underway

American Express launches its third “American Express Nonprofit Leadership Academy”
to develop the next generation of leaders in the nonprofit
sector. The Nonprofit Leadership Academy is a week-long training program
created in partnership with the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL)
that immerses participants in a series of leadership training and
development courses. Through the Academy, participants gain a better
awareness of their own strengths and weaknesses as managers and hone the
skills necessary for effective leadership. The Leadership Academy brings
together twenty-four emerging leaders from within community,
environmental, international relief and cultural organizations. The
twenty-four participants are selected based upon a competitive
application process and were selected from twelve national and local
nonprofit partners which include Americans for the Arts, Harlem Children Zone, Junior Achievement Worldwide,
Points of Light Institute/Hands on Network, Save the Children and Teach for America.
The local nonprofits based in American Express Service Center locations are The American Red Cross, Chicanos Por La Causa, Inc.,
East Market Street Development Corporation, Junior Achievement of South Florida, Inc., Phoenix Theatre
and Western Governors University. Participants in this session of the Nonprofit Leadership Academy have
been paired with alumni from the April 2009 class, who act as mentors,
answer questions about what to expect during the week, and generally
give guidance about how to get the most out of the Academy experience.