Online Credit Card Marketing War Intensifies

The battle between Bankrate.com and Creditcards.com over the online credit
card marketing channel continues to build. After acquiring Nationwide Card
Services in December, Bankrate announced a deal yesterday to acquire the
one-full-time employee Web site of CreditCardGuide.com for $32 million in
cash, plus $10 million in earn-outs. Bankrate previously acquired
Memphis-based NCS for $26.4 million in cash with a $7.0 million earn-out. The
online credit card market collapsed this year in the wake of the U.S.
consumer credit crisis which has produced tighter overall underwriting,
reducing revenues by 30% or more for many online credit card marketing sites
this year. Bankrate’s NCS runs a network of over 500 affiliate Web sites to
market consumer and business credit cards, including cardtrak.com and
cardweb.com. Bankrate is headed by Thomas Evans, formerly with Official
Payments and GeoCities. Austin, TX-based Creditcards.com is headed by the
former Bankrate CEO Elisabeth DeMarse. Creditcards.com pulled the plug on its
planned $100 million+ IPO in June citing unfavorable public market conditions.
In 2007, Creditcards.com, an Austin Ventures company, generated $63.3 million
in revenues and produced a $3.5 million profit. (CF Library 12/10/07; 6/3/08)

Details

FASTER PAYMENTS UPDATE

APACS reports that during the first three months of the new “Faster Payments Service,” a total of 19.5 million payments were processed through the system. The peak day September 1st when 1.4 million payments were handled. More than 63% of all internet and phone payments are now processed through the new “Faster Payments Service.” Standing orders started to be moved across to the new system from June 6th. The average value for phone and internet payments has increased
substantially; more than doubling from the 2007 average value of GBP 303 to GBP 786 per payment. There is a maximum limit placed on the value of each payment sent through the “Faster Payments Service,” with the maximum value for Internet and phone payments set at GBP 10,000 and standing orders to GBP 100,000.

Details

Card-Enabled Vending Machines Boost Sales by 50%

A recent report released by USA Technologies indicates that colleges and
universities that added credit and debit capabilities to vending
machines experienced up to 50% credit and debit sales, while vending
machines on military bases had up to 63% credit and debit sales. The
research found that consumers often make multiple purchases, and buy
items that are on average 33% more expensive when they use their
credit/debit cards. The research of college and university campuses
found that students typically adopt the cashless option as soon as it is
made available;greater success occurs with the complete replacement of
aging stored value card systems, resulting in lifting cashless sales
from less than 10% of total sales to an average of 38% with
credit/debit cards;credit/debit is also popular with non-resident
students, staff, faculty and visitors and credit/debit supports higher
priced vends and purchases above $1.00. Similar results are found in
the survey of military accounts where credit/debit is preferred over
cash. Military personnel often can not or
will not carry change, and in some instances wages are funded
into debit accounts, making access to cashless payment systems ideal in
this environment.

Details

C&CCC

The Cheque and Credit Clearing Company (C&CCC) has published data on
cheques processed over the course of one day that reveal that despite falling popularity, there are still around five
million cheques processed on the average clearing day. The data also showed that
the most common value of a cheque value was GBP50;
48.4% of all cheques processed were for over GBP100 in value; of all cheques under GBP100,
28% were for exact pound amounts; there were 57 cheques processed for exactly one penny, and
coincidentally 57 cheques for over GBP1 million and the
highest value single cheque processed was for almost GBP10 million
(GBP9,637,788.00) However, the number of cheque payments made by consumers each year
continues to fall; more than halving over the last decade from 2.9
cheque payments per adult per month in 1997 to 1.4 payments in 2007.
According to consumer research carried out for C&CCC this year, some 25
per cent of all account holders neither write nor receive cheques at all.

Details

Cardinal Centinel to Accept the RevolutionCard

Revolution Money and CardinalCommerce have announced that online
merchants will be able to accept RevolutionCard payment cards through
Cardinal Centinel, the Universal Merchant Platform . RevolutionCard
payment cards charge merchants up to 80% less in
transaction fees than other card brands. RevolutionCard charges no
interchange fees and only a 0.50% processing fee per transaction. And
because all RevolutionCard payment cards are PIN-based, many merchants
are discovering that the cards also reduce transaction costs related to
disputes, chargebacks and unauthorized transactions. CardinalCommerce
Corporation is the global leader in enabling
authenticated payments, secure transactions and alternative payment
brands for both eCommerce and mobile commerce.

Details

CFIB VS BANKS

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) has warned credit
card companies and big banks are about to inflict a huge cash grab on
merchants throughout Canada, for which the organization has launched a
campaign to inform its members. This “cash grab” is due mostly to the
“premium” cards offered to consumers and the merchant fees- based on
transaction size- with which they come. The CFIB campaign is meant to
inform members and the independent business community of this issue and
to engage their support through political action.

Details

FEE FIGHT

The Retail Council of Canada announced it is jumping on the political bandwagon to challenge the payment card industry over merchant credit card fees. Last week, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business warned that credit card companies and big banks plan to launch a huge cash grab on merchants throughout Canada. Also, last week the RCC and a coalition of “like-minded” associations launched “www.StopStickingItToUs.com,” a national campaign against “Big
Credit Card” companies and the banks that issue their cards that have been imposing hidden credit card fees on all Canadians. The RCC says that over the next few weeks, politicians will be calling our homes and
knocking on Canadians’ doors asking for support. RCC is asking Canadians to stand and ask these politicians what their plan is to address the issue.

Details

PAYZONE CARDS

Payzone European consumer payments/cash distribution network and IDT
Europe integrated calling card services have signed marketing and
distribution agreements for the IDT Europe “CallZone,” “CallZone
Europe,” “Just Crazy” and “CallZone Africa” international calling cards.
The IDT cards will be Payzone-branded, available for purchase through
the Payzone retailer network at over 30,000 locations across the UK, can
be loaded in various denominations from GBP2.50 to GBP20 and can be
recharged repeatedly.

Details

Soft Housing Drives Down the Deloitte CSI

The Deloitte Research “Leading Index of Consumer Spending” fell in
August, due the continued soft housing market and a worsening labor
market. The “Index,” comprising four components — tax burden, initial
unemployment claims, real wages and real home prices — fell in August
2008 to 0.88%, from a revised gain of 1.60% a month ago. Home mortgage
refinancing has all but disappeared, reducing household cash flow. While
inventories of unsold homes have improved slightly, rising foreclosures
and a tighter mortgage market will likely keep downward pressure on
prices. Real home prices were down 9.3% from a year ago.

Details

WFG & AGRIFINANCIAL

Western Financial Group has signed a share purchase agreement with C.A.
Bancorp Inc, from which it will acquire AgriFinancial Canadafor an
estimated purchase price of $20.5 million. A lender to agribusiness of
Western Canada, namely for term loans to farmers for the purchase/lease
of farm equipment, AgriFinancial provides over 25,000 farmers with its
“AgriCard” specialty credit card designed for acceptance at more than
750 agricultural merchants. The transaction is expected to close during
4Q/08, will add nearly $90 million to Bank West’s loan book and remains
subject to certain conditions, consents, regulatory approvals, discharge
of AgriFinancial’s existing credit facilities, completion of certain
transaction documents, review and satisfaction with prior acquisition
documents. The Western Financial Group financial provides its services
and banking in over 90 communities for more than 450,000 individuals and
businesses.

Details

SunTrust and Vesdia Ink a Loyalty Program Deal

Loyalty marketer Vesdia Corporation has been chosen by SunTrust Banks to help
enhance the bank’s debit and credit card loyalty programs through
Vesdia’s merchant network and partnership marketing services.
The enhanced SunTrust rewards program will provide cardholders with
additional rewards-earning opportunities with thousands of leading
national and local retailers. In addition to earning SunPoints on
transactions, cardholders will be able to take advantage of bonus
SunPoints, discounts and special offer opportunities with more than
150,000 brick and mortar locations, service providers, catalogs and gift
cards, and more than 750 online retailers. The partnership also offers merchants unique marketing benefits. Through
targeted promotions to SunTrust cardholders and more than 30 million
consumers in Vesdia managed loyalty programs, participating merchants
gain access to new customers while driving increased basket size and
repeat purchases from existing customers. SunTrust had total assets of $177.4 billion and total deposits of $119.8
billion as of June 30, 2008.

Details

Consumer Confidence Continues to Rebound

U.S. consumer economic confidence continues to rebound as the prices of
oil and gasoline slipped down 30% and 12%, respectively. Also, the
bailouts of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac along with the hopefulness of
government change promoted at the recent Republican and Democratic
conventions, signals more consumer confidence is building. The latest
“RBC CASH Index” advanced for the second consecutive month, climbing 35
points to stand at 69.2, compared to 33.8 in August. The “RBC
Expectations Index” rose to 76.3 from its -4.7 reading in August. The
RBC Current Conditions Index improved markedly in September to 55.2,
compared to 36.7 in August. The “RBC Jobs Index” rose by only 9.7 points
in September to 95.5, compared to 85.8 last month. RBC noted that more
than four in ten consumers believe the next month will be a good time to
buy real estate, versus 41% last month.

Details