AT&T and Citi Beef Up Small Biz Card Offering

Citi has introduced the “AT&T Universal Business Rewards Card.” Cardholders can earn five points for every dollar spent on eligible AT&T products and services; three points for every dollar spent at participating office-supply retailers, gas stations and professional services providers, such as accounting and legal firms; and one point for every dollar spent on all other purchases. Cardholders can earn up to 100,000 points each calendar year. To support the launch AT&T is offering a free one-hour online seminar discussing payment and funding for small businesses. As part of an ongoing series of instructional Web-based seminars and training courses available on AT&T’s small business Web site, the June 12th seminar is titled: “Getting the Most from Payment Solutions: How Credit Cards and Other Tools Can Drive Efficiencies for Your Business.”

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Consumer Confidence Surveys Show Mixed Results

While some recent surveys have pointed to some stabilization in consumer confidence, another “Index” is showing an all-time low for June. The “RBC CASH Index” for June, now stands at 22.5, dropping nearly 17 points below last month’s level. RBC says that despite economic stimulus checks, Americans are under extreme and growing financial pressure from falling housing prices, rising food and energy prices and a softening job market. The monthly survey found that more than one-third of Americans believe that their local economy will weaken in the coming months. The only bright spot is that consumers’ expectations about their personal finances show signs of stabilizing. Currently, 31% of consumers report they believe their personal finances will be stronger in six months, compared to 26% in August.

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Shift4 and Retail Pro Signs a Partnership

Secure payment processor Shift 4 has partnered with POS provider Retail Pro to focus on business development. “Retail Pro v9” is a retail store management system with integrated POS and back-office functions. The system supports the entire lifecycle in the store through receiving, sales, inventory management, merchandising and replenishment. Retail Pro is currently developing a class “A” interface with Shift4’s “DOLLARS ON THE NET” with Tokenization for acceptance, settlement, archiving, retrieval, and reporting of payments including credit, debit, and gift cards. It is marketed and sold via a network of business partners in 73 countries, is available in 18 languages and has been localized to meet the needs of each market in which business is conducted. Shift4 is a developer of secure financial transaction processing software and services, provides web-based, real-time enterprise payment solutions for leaders in the hospitality, retail, foodservices, auto rental and e-commerce markets.

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Survey Says – Branded Gift Cards Offer Freedom

Branded gift cards are no longer thought of as a “convenience” or “utility” gift as recipients express high levels of emotional value when receiving the cards. The latest survey of 8,000 consumers by the Network Branded Prepaid Card Association found that more than 90% of respondents expressed enjoyment at the freedom to choose their perfect gift and 75% suggested they prefer to pick out their own gifts when given a choice via a VISA, MasterCard, American Express or Discover-branded gift card. More than 64% of respondents suggested that gift cards are better than traditional gifts and 50% thought that gift cards are better than receiving cash. Over 80% of branded gift cards are given among family members and friends, as 75% of respondents appreciate the gift because of their close personal relationship with the giver.

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U.K. Credit Card ABS Remains Stable in April

While most metrics for credit card-backed securities in the U.K. remained stable in April, the “Monthly Payment Rate” increased by 70 basis points. Over the past six months the “MPR” has oscillated between 16.60% and 18.40%. According to FitchRatings the “Monthly Payment Rate” rose to 18.00% in April, compared to 17.70% in the prior month and 17.90% six-months ago. Fitch reports that “MPR” increased for most of the trusts in April, with the largest increase coming for the Turquoise trust, which experienced a 240 basis point rise. Only Pillar and Cumbernauld registered a month-on-month drop, both of 40 basis points. The Fitch “Charge-Off Index” in April was 6.5%, a 10 basis point drop from the March value. The “Delinquency Index” remained stable in April at 3.6%.

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Intel Capital Funds Accertify

Chicago-based fraud prevention solution provider Accertify has received funding from Intel Capital. Accertify will use the funds to expand its growing channel partners, marketing capabilities and continued focus on delivering Interceptas, an end-to-end solution for combating CNP fraud. Interceptas helps merchants reduce their total cost of fraud by simplifying and combining all processes and procedures for fighting fraud into a single, easy-to-use platform. Interceptas automates manual processes and provides unmatched features and functionality, enabling retailers to gain control of their transaction data and stay a step ahead of fraudsters. As a result, merchants are able to scale their e-commerce businesses without fear of fraud and maximize revenues through improved fraud detection, fewer rejections of valid transactions and reduced charge-backs.

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Affinion’s ID Secure Adds New Features

Affinion Security Center has boosted the features of “ID Secure” identity theft solution. ID Secure is a next-generation identity theft solution that helps members monitor, detect and resolve the rapidly growing crime of identity theft. The enhancements are designed to help prevent increasingly sophisticated identity thefts. The service now includes enhanced features such as increased access to public records to monitor for any criminal activity committed in a member’s name, and a more robust data sweep of Internet data, including monitoring of underground chat rooms. Each enhanced feature is designed to address the greatest identity theft threats facing consumers today. ID Secure includes proprietary technology and expertise from Affinion’s CardCops division which alerts members if the service detects their personal data has been compromised and is being traded in the criminal cyber underground. Now CardCops can also monitor for a member’s Social Security number, in addition to monitoring for credit and debit card numbers.

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Visa Announces 2007 Quality Performance Awards

The 16th annual “Visa Service Quality Performance Awards” have been announced for 2007. The awards are issued in recognition of exceptional card operations performance by issuers, acquirers and processors in the U.S., using peer categories based on annual Visa sales volume rankings. The 2007 winners include (in alphabetical order): America First FCU; Applied Bank; Arvest Bank; Bank Of America; BB&T; Boeing Employees’ CU; BOK Financial; Chase; Chevy Chase Bank; Federal Savings Bank; Citibank; Comerica; Commerce Bancshares; Compass Bank; Credit One Bank; EDS; Fifth Third Bank; First Citizens; First Data Resources; First Hawaiian Bank; FirstBank of Colorado; FirstMerit Bank; First National Bank of Omaha; Fulton Financial; GE Capital; INTRUST Bank; J.C. Penney Company; KeyBank; Marshall & Ilsley; M&T Bank; Merrill Lynch; National City; Nordstrom; Old National Bank; PNC; Regions Financial; State Farm Financial; SunTrust Banks; Synovus; Target National Bank; TCF Financial; TIB – The Independent BankersBank; Total System Services; UMB Financial; Union Bank and Trust Company; U.S. Bancorp; USAA Savings Bank; Wachovia; Wells Fargo; Western Corporate FCU; Whitney National Bank; and World’s Foremost Bank.

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Borders.com Adds the Bill Me Later Option

Book retailer Borders has added Bill Me Later as an alternative payment for its new Borders.com website. Borders.com is also offering customers no payments for 90 days on purchases of $99 or more with Bill Me Later. Bill Me Later allows brands to simplify the payment experience to capture lost sales, increase customer loyalty and maximize profits. Through a single implementation of its Bill Me Later product suite, brands gain access to a set of technology solutions, including Bill Me Later, Bill Me Later Business, promotional financing, private label credit card programs and integrated marketing programs.

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Allpoint Network Signs Two More Clients

Chevron FCU and Technology FCU have joined the Allpoint Network and will offer their members surcharge-free ATM access. Joining Allpoint Network will allow them to provide increased surcharge-free ATM access for their members and manage their exposure to rising ATM surcharges. These top credit unions will now offer more than 8,500 surcharge-free ATMs in California and over 50,000 nationwide, surpassing Bank of America by more than 4,500 and 30,000 ATMs respectively. The Allpoint card model will enable both credit unions to secure a fixed cost structure for unlimited use at Allpoint ATMs that limits both credit union and member exposure to rising surcharge rates. The national average surcharge surpassed inflation by more than 300% in 2007 and Bank of America recently announced that their surcharge rates would rise from $2.00 to $3.00, a 50% increase. Chevron Federal Credit Union and Technology Credit Union have a combined total of more than $2 billion dollars in assets and over 130,000 members.

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CMIS II

Yucheng Technologies has signed agreements with China Construction Bank
to provides its credit management information system, “CMIS II.” CMIS II
is to provide Construction Bank with a credit asset performance and risk
management platform in all branches across China, providing analytical
tools for analyzing/monitoring credit asset-related data for the bank’s
head office. The filtering/analyzing data is provided courtesy of the
branches with pre-defined and customized reporting to support credit
related decision-making. These two organizations have been partners in
upgrading and maintaining the first generation CMIS since 2001, China
Construction Bank operates a network of more than 13,000 branches with
total assets of about $903 billion while Yucheng Technologies Limited’s
more than 1,800 employees provide IT service to the Chinese banking
industry.

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NFIB/Visa Awards 2008 Scholarships

Five college-bound seniors are the recipients of Visa’s 2008 National Federation of Independent Business. Peter Crabtree of Washington State has been awarded a $10,000 scholarship for his coffee and chocolate business. The four other winners of the NFIB/Visa Inc. National Young Entrepreneur Award will each receive a $5,000 scholarship. They are: Jim Cerenzie of Spanish Fork, Utah who will attend California State. He has an e-Bay based business that sells new “old” stock from a sporting goods wholesaler; John Kirkpatrick of Beckley, W. Va. who plans to attend Wake Forest University and is the owner of ZeroPricetags which offers “gadgets” to reward people who agree to test products or participate in surveys; Eric Knudson of Boyds, Md. plans to attend Stanford University and is the co-owner of Serve It Up Tennis, LLC. The tennis lesson company and Jacob Lindemann of Manitowoc, Wis. who plans to attend University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee and operates 360 Board Shop, a skateboard supply shop. This is the fifth consecutive year Visa has been the primary corporate sponsor of the NFIB Young Entrepreneur Foundation Young Entrepreneur Awards Program. Since 2003, the NFIB Young Entrepreneur Foundation has awarded 1,900 Young Entrepreneur Award Scholarships totaling $2 million.

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