NRF Develops Best Practice on PCI Compliance

The National Retail Federation is developing an “IT Best Practices” reference library to define best practices on each of the twelve basic PCI audit points with variations by retail segment. The Best Practices Guides will be developed by collecting “how we do it” information from contributing retailers and vendors. All contributions will be analyzed by the committee and amalgamated into the “best practice.” Draft best practices will be posted to websites for further critique and enhancements before being declared “Best.” Other best practices to be included in the library are privacy, spam control, environmental protection, record retention and data management. Best practices will be developed by a sub-committee of the CIO Council supplemented with technical assistance by the ARTS Standards committees.

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Loyalty Cards & Mobile Coupons Link

San Diego-based Single Touch Interactive and Atlanta-based InComm have teamed to offer customers with mobile coupons through retail loyalty cards. Combining InComm’s point of sale integration at over 100,000 national retail stores with Single Touch Interactive’s “Abbreviated Dial Code” mobile technology creates a mobile coupon platform that doesn’t change customer or retailer behavior. Consumers only need to sign up one time for the mobile coupon program via their mobile phone by dialing #SAVE and entering their loyalty card number or they can sign up online at any participating retailer. When the consumer visits a participating retail store, they dial #SAVE on their mobile phone to hear and activate available mobile coupons. At checkout, the consumer simply swipes their loyalty card to trigger the discount. Customer behavior at checkout remains the same and the retailer doesn’t need to add special equipment.

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Delinquency Returns to Pre-05 Levels

Credit card delinquencies, based on total dollars outstanding, rose for the third consecutive quarter, rising 50 basis points in 3Q/07 compared to one-year ago. Sequentially, delinquent dollars increased 27 basis points, but the number of past-due credit card accounts fell 21 basis points. While the delinquent dollars figure is the highest in nearly three years the delinquent account figure is the lowest in four years. According to the American Bankers Association’s “Consumer Credit Delinquency Bulletin,” delinquencies based on total dollars outstanding for 3Q/07 were 4.00%, compared to 3.73% in the second quarter and 3.50% for 3Q/06. Based on the number of accounts past-due, the figures were 4.18% for 3Q/07, 4.39% for 2Q/07, and 4.57% one-year ago. The ABA says that it anticipates delinquency rates will continue to rise in the fourth due to continued weakness in the housing sector.

3Q CREDIT CARD DELINQUENCY HISTORY
(based on total dollars outstanding)
1980: 3.40%
1985: 3.15%
1990: 4.01%
1995: 4.21%
2000: 3.93%
2005: 3.74%
2006: 3.50%
2007: 4.00%
Source: ABA Delinquency Bulletin

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Illinois Looking for Gift Card Owners

A new Illinois law that took effect January 1st prohibits gift card fees that diminish value and requires that gift cards not expire for five years after issuance. The Illinois Treasurer’s Office also reports that it is holding more than $5 million in unused gift card balances for state residents. The unredeemed balances usually come to the state marked as “owner unknown.” In such cases, the purchaser or recipient must file a claim with the Treasurer’s Office using the serial number on the expired gift card. An estimated $8 billion in gift cards went unused in the U.S. in 2006, according to TowerGroup.

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IL Bright Start Futuretrust MC is Launched

The Illinois Bright Start College Savings Program has rolled out the 529-linked “Bright Start Futuretrust MasterCard” with an automatic $25 contribution after the first use. Participating account owners will also earn a minimum of 1% every time they make a purchase with the card. Members earn up to 15% in additional college savings when they shop at thousands of partners in the Futuretrust Preferred Merchant Network. For every $25 of rebates accumulated, the money will automatically be invested into a linked Bright Start 529 account. The rebates are state tax deductible for Illinois residents. The Bright Start College Savings Program is Illinois’ tax-advantaged 529 college savings plan with more than $2.4 billion in assets.

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VISA AWARD

VISA has been recognized as the “World’s Leading Credit Card” for the tenth consecutive year. More than 167,000 travel agents and
professionals in over 160 countries worldwide cast votes in the World Travel Awards survey. The 14th annual “World Travel Awards Ceremony” was held December 12th at Beaches Turks & Caicos Resort and Spa, Providenciales in the Caribbean. Respondents cited VISA’s extensive merchant relationships and marketing partnerships, as well as its unsurpassed acceptance around the world as key factors in making the awards. VISA competed with American Express, Diner’s Club, JCB, and MasterCard.

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XProtean QRS Integrates with Sharp UP-X500

CA-based retail solution provider XProtean has announced a strategic distribution deal with Sharp Electronics’ Point-of-Sale division. Under this agreement, Sharp will bundle XProtean’s Quick Serve Restaurant Industry Solution with Sharp’s UP-X500 point-of-sale system. The UP-X500 is an integrated, open-systems platform supporting Windows® XP. In addition, the agreement allows XProtean and Sharp to collaborate on new product developments designed for hospitality and retail industry in the U.S. XProtean advanced POS systems come integrated with electronic payment processing engine that enables credit, debit, and gift card acceptance.

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HOLIDAY SHOPPING TRENDS

INTERAC Direct Payment was found to be the preferred payment method for
retail purchases for 50% of Canadians with 41.7 million transactions
between the
dates of December 21st, 2007 and December 23rd, 2007. Furthermore,
Canadians conducted over three billion INTERAC retail transactions for a
total of $148 billion in 2007. Of this total, 18.17% were Supermarket
transactions, 17.73% were conducted at Specialty clothing stores, 10.73%
were composed of Department Store transactions, 10.23% were for gas/auto,
12.27% were spent at restaurants and 5.76% were conducted for the purchase
of Beer, Liquor or Wine. The province of Ontario reflected the most
transactions with a total of 5,566,818, followed by Quebec with 3,179,884
and British Columbia/N.W.T./Yukon with 2,202,976. The 2 provinces with
the smallest number of transactions include Newfoundland-Labrador with only
288,559 transactions and Prince Edward Island with 75,971 retail
transactions.
The Interac Association oversees the operations of the INTERAC Canadian
POS and ATM payment network, which includes “INTERAC Online”,
“INTERAC Email Money Transfer” and “Cross Border Debit.”

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Dec Credit Manager’s Index Sinks

The seasonally adjusted “Credit Manager’s Index” fell for the fourth consecutive month in December. The slide is driven in part by disappointing holiday sales, a weakening employment market, accelerating declines in housing prices, downgrades of banks and insurers, plummeting consumer confidence, and a rapid increase in delinquencies and defaults on many types of credit. The National Association of Credit Management says trade credit managers are now encountering the same difficulty found in other credit markets, that is, the inability of debtors to pay bills due to insufficient cash flow. The CMI index lost 0.7% in December, dropping to a record low of 52.4. Six of the 10 components fell, including a 4% drop in dollar collections.

Credit Manager’s Index
Dec 06: 54.7
Jan 07: 56.4
Feb 07: 55.5
Mar 07: 54.5
Apr 07: 55.4
May 07: 56.1
Jun 07: 56.4
Jul 07: 55.0
Aug 07: 55.1
Sep 07: 54.8
Oct 07: 53.8
Nov 07: 53.1
Dec 07: 52.4
Source: National Association of Credit Management

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