Merchants Respond to H.R. 5546

The Merchants Payments Coalition says the “Credit Card Fair Fee Act”, for the first time, deals with the biggest credit card fee of all — the interchange fee. The bgroup says it welcomes the effort to stop the price-fixing practices of the credit card industry and create a transparent market-based process. The MPC also said that currently, credit card interchange rates are set in secret and hidden from view. Raising interchange fees is how VISA and MasterCard encourage banks to issue more credit and debit cards — as long as rising rates are kept top secret, consumers have no way of knowing the extra costs they are paying through higher prices.

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Cruz Bay Solutions Unveils iGift POD

MA-based Cruz Bay Solutions has partnered with Radiant Systems to produce the “iGift Print on Demand Gift Card Kiosk.” The “iGift POD” kiosk allows customers to choose from a large selection of card designs that can be personalized with colorful text messages in a variety of fonts. Customers can also import their own photos and edit them with options similar to a photo editing kiosk. Using the “iGift POD” kiosk, customers are able to choose from a much greater array of design options than can be found by purchasing gift cards in the traditional manner. Customers may also perform balance inquiries and reloads at the kiosk.

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EPC Says H.R. 5546 Will Hinder Innovation

The Electronic Payments Coalition says the electronic payments system is a premiere American example of the endless economic opportunities the free market brings to all parties involved. Innovation, technology, and economic growth for all parties involved are hallmarks of a highly efficient free market system. However well-intentioned, any government intervention could never match the ability of the free market to determine the most appropriate price for services. The EPC says it strongly opposes the price control legislation. The EPC says the new bill clearly states that the board will “set rates and terms” for access to the benefits of accepting electronic payments. This provision replaces the free marketplace with a price control scheme governed by three unelected “electronic payment judges” — under control of the federal government.

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MC EMV CARDS

MasterCard has passed the 300 million card milestone for EMV chip-based cards worldwide. While Europe continues to be at the heart of the EMV chip-based issuance and acceptance with significant numbers of POS and ATM terminals supporting the EMV card base. Much of the growth over the last twelve months has come from other regions
such as Asia-Pacific, Latin America, the Middle East and Africa.
Globally, approximately one in every five MasterCard-branded cards
now carry an EMV chip with nearly a quarter of all POS devices upgraded to accept these cards. In Asia-Pacific, the growth rate of EMV chip cards over the past two years has exceeded 70%. In South Africa,
POS terminal deployment has reached critical mass encouraging banks to commence EMV card issuance. In the United Arab Emirates, EMV card issuance increased tremendously last year.

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Chase Paymentech Supports Optimum T4210/T4220

Chase Paymentech has agreed to provide full merchant and ISO support for Hypercom’s new PCI PED approved, 32-bit multi-application “Optimum T4210” and “T4220” terminals. The action follows Chase Paymentech’s Class A certification of the two new devices. Hypercom’s “Optimum T4200” family consists of six 32-bit multi-application terminals with a consistent look and feel and 19-key keypad layout. The Chase Paymentech Class A certified terminals include models with dial only and Ethernet/SSL/dial backup connectivity. The new terminals join a full array of high-performance “Optimum” countertop, multi-lane, wireless and portable terminals that have been adopted by leading banks, retailers and independent sales organizations globally, since Hypercom introduced its first 32-bit “Optimum” product in 2004.

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MasterCard Tops 300 Million EMV Chip Cards

MasterCard has passed the 300 million card milestone for EMV chip-based cards worldwide. While Europe continues to be at the heart of the EMV chip-based issuance and acceptance with significant numbers of POS and ATM terminals supporting the EMV card base. Much of the growth over the last twelve months has come from other regions such as Asia-Pacific, Latin America, the Middle East and Africa. Globally, approximately one in every five MasterCard-branded cards now carry an EMV chip with nearly a quarter of all POS devices upgraded to accept these cards. In Asia-Pacific, the growth rate of EMV chip cards over the past two years has exceeded 70%. In South Africa, POS terminal deployment has reached critical mass encouraging banks to commence EMV card issuance. In the United Arab Emirates, EMV card issuance increased tremendously last year.

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On Track Innovations 4Q/07 Revenues Soften

NJ-based On Track Innovations reported that revenues for the fourth quarter reached $13.0 million, a decrease of 1% compared to $13.2 million in the same period last year. Gross margin for the fourth quarter was 43% compared to 48% in the fourth quarter of 2006. OTI says that during the year it experienced delays in multiple projects, but despite the delays it was able to grow revenues by 7% for the year and limit cash burn to $6.4 million dollars. OTI designs, develops and markets secure contactless microprocessor-based smart card technology to address the needs of a wide variety of markets. For more information visit carddata.com).

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Vesdia Taps Holmquist as Chief Marketing Officer

Atlanta-based Vesdia has named Lars Holmquist as Chief Marketing Officer. Prior to TSYS, Holmquist was the VP/Loyalty Consulting Services for MasterCard. His responsibilities included their U.S. business development and client management areas, where he again successfully partnered with financial institutions to maximize the growing demand for customer loyalty solutions. Holmquist also spent two years with Brierley & Partners, a targeted marketing and loyalty agency, and nearly nine years with American Express, in both Sweden and the U.S. In his new role at Vesdia, Holmquist will focus on business development within the financial services industry, specifically optimizing the growing demand for Vesdia’s turnkey merchant-funded reward solutions.

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CreditCards.com Inks Yahoo! and LendingTree

TX-based CreditCards.com and Yahoo! Finance have signed a deal to give access to a credit card search engine. The deal follows a similar one last month with LendingTree and its sister site, GetSmart.com. In 2007, over 12 million visitors used CreditCards.com to search for their next credit card. The search engine, which is updated daily with current credit card offers, provides potential customers a means to compare hundreds of current credit card offers in order to find the best deal for them.

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HPY & COLLECTIVE POS

New Jersey-based Heartland Payment Systems has acquired a majority interest in Collective Point of Sale Solutions. Heartland will add CollectivePOS’ 5,000+ Canadian customers – processing in excess of $1 billion annually – to its growing portfolio of small and mid-sized businesses. CollectivePOS’ management team, led by President and CEO Michael Back, will maintain its leadership of the company, and
its customers’ payments transactions will continue to be processed and
serviced by the company. As such, operations will continue seamlessly,
and CollectivePOS merchants will not need a system conversion.

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U.S. Spending Monitor Finally Flattens

The Discover “U.S. Spending Monitor” held steady in February as spending intentions flattened, while pessimism about the economy increased. After sharp spending cutbacks in December and then January, following the end of the holiday season, consumers steadied their spending, but were cautious about any increases. Even lower expected pressures on household expenses and the announced economic stimulus package did not encourage a rebound. Record pessimism about the economy and personal finances seems to be constraining consumers’ willingness to spend more. The Monitor was essentially unchanged in February, up just .3 to 86.4. Less than 19% of consumers rate the economy as good or excellent these days, a new Monitor low and a sharp drop from 32.5% in October. Outlook ahead also hit a new low with 70% expecting economic conditions to worsen.

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