Broadway.com Enhances VISA Signature

Ticket distributor Broadway.com has partnered with VISA to help VISA Signature obtain greater ticket access, service and benefits. VISA Signature cardholders will be preferred customers of Broadway.com with access to tickets to all of Broadway, special offers and preferred concierge service. A special website and phone hotline will make memorable Broadway experiences easily accessible to VISA Signature cardholders, with tickets to the biggest shows. Cardholders can also enjoy amenities such as complimentary cancellation privileges.

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Bankrate Acquires Card Marketer NCS for $26MM

With the upcoming IPO of its competitor Austin Ventures’ creditcards.com, Bankrate has made two strategic acquisitions, one in the credit card space and another in the college finance channel. Bankrate has acquired Memphis-based Nationwide Card Services for $26.4 million in cash with a $7.0 million earn-out over the next two years. The Internet consumer banking specialist also acquired Savingforcollege.com for $2.25 million in cash and an earn out of $2.0 million over the next two years. Savingforcollege.com focuses on 529 college savings plans. NCS was founded in 2001 by Robert and Scott Langdon. The Company’s primary business is the online direct marketing of multi-purpose credit cards through its own proprietary Web sites and its network of over 500 active affiliate publishers. Both firms will continue to operate under their current structures with no changes to staff or location. Austin Ventures’ creditcards.com IPO is seeking to raise $185 million. creditcards.com is headed by Bankrate former CEO Elisabeth DeMarse. (CF Library 8/13/07; 9/17/07)

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Equity Commerce Becomes Apriva Reseller

Wireless solution provider Apriva has added Equity Commerce to its “Authorized Reseller Program”. Apriva “Secure POS” was selected because of its advanced security, superior service, reliability and breadth of functionality and features Apriva offers a convenient, single point for boarding, servicing, managing and billing of wireless POS solutions. Equity Commerce is a full service payments company servicing sales agents and offices across the country.

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MBNA Canada Intros Three Chrysler MasterCards

Ottawa-based MBNA Canada Bank and Chrysler Financial have teamed to launch three co-branded credit cards. The new “Chrysler Rewards MasterCard”, “Jeep Rewards MasterCard” and the “Dodge Rewards MasterCard” enables consumers to earn points for card purchases and redeem them toward the purchase price or lease price of a new or pre-owned Chrysler, Jeep or Dodge vehicle or related products and services. Cardholders receive one “Reward Point” for every $1 in net retail and earn five “Reward Points” for every $1 in net retail purchase made at authorized Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge dealers. Additionally, cardholders receive 2,500 “Bonus Rewards Points” after the first purchase. Points are redeemable for gift certificates and vouchers. MBNA is the second largest MasterCard credit card issuer in Canada.

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Card Charge-Off Reserves to Continue Rising

While credit card portfolio metrics are holding up well despite general concerns in the credit markets there are still challenges ahead. The FDIC recently reported a significant increase in both delinquencies and charge-offs during the second quarter for banks and according to CardData the latest issuer data also shows an continued uptick in both measurements. Charge-offs hit 4.89% in October, a new record for this year and the fifth consecutive month that credit card charge-offs have increased. Delinquencies came in at 4.79% for October, the highest since January 2005. TowerGroup released a report this week on asset-backed credit card securitizations, which shows that despite increases in the reserves for credit card losses, noncurrent loans are outpacing the rise in loan loss reserves. TowerGroup says it believes this trend indicates that delinquencies and loan loss reserves will continue to rise. In turn, the increased risk in credit card portfolios due to rising delinquencies will increase funding costs for ABS. For banks, the impact will be either higher funding costs or increased costs for credit enhancement in order to obtain favorable investment ratings from the rating agencies. Nevertheless, it is important not to overstate the negative effects of the subprime collapse on either the credit card business or the securitization market.

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LLOYDS NETSERVICE

Lloyds TSB has launched its “NetService” account tool to provide
cardholders
with tracking and account management. The service has been made
available to
Lloyds TSB Corporate card customers and Purchasing card customers for funds
management. In addition to providing thorough account information, the
solution
allows customers to update contact details, review transactions in real
time and
review statement data covering the 12 previous months. The “Netservice”
solution
is available for customer access 24/7 over 128-bit SSL encryption.

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PaySimple Names a New Client Services Exec

Denver-based PaySimple has hired Connie Howard, formerly of NextAction, as SVP/Client Services . Howard will play a key role in shaping the client services organization to manage ongoing partner and direct client relationships. Before joining PaySimple, Howard headed up Business Development and Client Services at NextAction, a leading data services organization. Prior to NextAction, she was the VP of Sales at I-Behavior and a principal engineer of its start-up. She also held various senior sales positions at Abacus Direct, driving its business growth through IPO and eventual sale to DoubleClick for $1.8B. Connie Howard attended Wayne State University and holds BA in Business Administration. PaySimple simplifies collection processes by automating the collection and deposit of payments.

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Canada’s Aeroplan Lands the Nectar Card Program

Canada’s top loyalty marketing company has signed a deal to acquire the U.K.’s largest customer rewards program. According to this week’s CardFlash International, Montreal-based Aeroplan has agreed to acquire London-based LMG, the owner of the “Nectar” loyalty card program, for about US$745 million. Besides the “Nectar” program, LMG operates Insight & Communications and Loyalty International. About half of U.K. households participate in the “Nectar” loyalty program along with 15 national retail brands. Aeroplan says the two loyalty programs, “Nectar” and “Aeroplan,” will continue to be operated separately. Members’ participation in their respective program is unaffected. Rupert Duchesne will remain President and CEO of Aeroplan. Alex Moorhead and his executive team will continue the management of LMG. LMG is being acquired from Sir Keith Mills (Chairman of LMG), global private equity investor Warburg Pincus and the management team. The transaction is expected to close by the end of the year.

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Biometrically-Authenticated Smart Card Unveiled

CA-based Fidelica Microsystems has introduced the “FSC-3012” card which is the first to offer biometrically-authenticated credential features with a fully-embedded biometric system. Fidelica’s smart card provides fingerprint imaging, enrollment and authentication contained entirely within an ISO 7810/16-format smart card. This card offers a cost-effective and easy-to-use means for security professionals to add biometric authentication to an access control or IT system by upgrading cards. In addition to smart cards, Fidelica is developing biometric security platforms for PCs, laptops, and mobile applications such as cell phones and PDAs, for release in 2008. Fidelica Microsystems is a developer of biometrics technology for electronic security, access and transaction control.

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UKASH & VODAPHONE

The Ukash payment method is reportedly gaining popularity as a credit
card alternative. With this method, Ukash account vouchers can be
distributed to Vodafone mobile customers through nearly 40,000 payment
terminals across the country and are valid for up to one year after
purchase.
The vouchers can then be used at retail and service websites using an
access
number that is text messaged to the users phone to ensure security. Ukash
charges GBP1 for every GBP10 transaction payment method and does not
grant vouchers to age-restricted sites for whom it may apply. Ukash
e-commerce enables consumers to use cash for online transactions through
prepaid accounts for up to GBP500.

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Branded Gift Card Sales to Double This Month

According to a recent survey conducted by the Network Branded Prepaid Card Association, branded gift card sales are predicted to more than double this holiday season, with the average consumer planning to purchase three to four cards. NBPCA offers tips for both the purchasers and the recipients to effectively maximize the convienance of branded gift cards. The Network Branded Prepaid Card Association is a nonprofit,inter-industry trade association that supports the growth and success of network branded prepaid cards.

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