Fiserv Closes CheckFree Deal; Names Execs

WI-based Fiserv has closed its deal to acquire CheckFree for about $4.4 billion. More than 3,000 financial services Web sites use the electronic billing and payment services provided by CheckFree. Fiserv has about 18,000 clients. Jeffrey Yabuki will continue to serve as CEO and President of Fiserv and Donald Dillon will continue to serve as Chairman of the Board. Tom Hirsch will continue as the company’s CFO and Pete Kight, former CheckFree Chairman and CEO, will be named Vice Chairman of Fiserv and will lead new product development and strategic integration. Additionally, Kight will join its Board of Directors. Steve Olsen, former COO of CheckFree, will become Fiserv’s Group President of Internet Banking and Electronic Payments. Olsen will lead the company’s bill payments, Internet banking, treasury/cash management and investment management businesses. Separately, Fiserv announced that one of its founders, Norm Balthasar, Fiserv Senior Executive VP and COO, will officially retire on December 31st after 33 years with the company and its predecessor.

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CCB & VINCIO

China Construction Bank has implemented the Austin Logistic’s
decision platform software, “Vincio”. The bank will deploy “Vincio’s”
service-oriented architecture and “fuse and use” data method to
assess risk models, credit policies and strategies as part of the
organization’s “Basel II IRB project”. Furthermore, China Construction
Bank chose Vincio over other options, mostly for its processing speed,
flexibility and ease of use. The bank is a significant Chinese credit card
issuer with more than 12 million cards in circulation while Austin
Logistics provides decision management tools and risk assessment
software to financial organizations around the world.

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AmEx Tops Another Card Satisfaction Poll

A new survey reveals that American Express, Wells Fargo, Juniper Bank, U.S. Bank, and Discover top the rankings in providing the best overall customer experience as a card provider. However, credit card providers overall ranked fourth among the nine industries surveyed. The report by Forrester Research found that American Express, Juniper Bank, U.S. Bank and Discover received “excellent” ratings in usefulness. American Express and Discover also received “excellent” ratings for ease of use. When it comes to enjoyability, Forrester says none of the credit card providers distinguished themselves, but American Express, Wells Fargo and Juniper Bank were way above the rest. Five firms ended up with “very poor” ratings in enjoyability including: Bank of America, HSBC, Capital One, Chase, and Citibank. J.D. Power recently released a survey that ranked American Express as #1 among the top ten U.S. issuers. A recent Consumer Reports survey ranked American Express as #6.

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BNU & PLANET PAYMENT

Banco Nacional Ultramarino and Plant Payment have signed collaborative
agreements for processing solutions. These joint processing solutions
include Planet Paymentâ™s “Pay in Your Currency” service and an integrated
payment functionality service, both of which are appealing to the
international
gaming and entertainment businesses. These solutions allow gaming
merchants to integrate credit card payment functionality with business
management systems increasing operational efficiency. “Pay in Your
Currency”
allows credit card users to decide on the currency of their choice at the
time of purchase, providing peace of mind without speculation over how much
the goods and services truly cost them. Macao attracts over 22 million
visitors per
year with its gaming facilities and attractions. Planet Payment is a
multi-currency
payment and data processor that reconciles card transactions in multiple
currencies of choice while BNU operates 14 branches throughout Macau.

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Survey Says: Consumer Confidence Declining

Another survey reveals declining consumer confidence as other data points to an impending recession. The latest “Discover U.S. Spending Monitor” fell 3.4 points in November, the lowest level in more than six months. However, 51% of consumers said they expect to spend more money in December on gas, groceries, mortgage costs and holiday shopping. This compares to 35% who said they would spend more in November and an average of 33% making similar claims about month-to-month spending for the previous five months. Discover noted that consumers had different opinions about their spending pre- and post-Thanksgiving. In the weeks leading up to the biggest shopping weekend of the year, as many as 55% of consumers said they would spend less this year than last, while 43% said they would spend the same or more. Since Monitor surveying began in May of this year, the number of consumers rating the economy as good or excellent fell to 28%, a decline of nearly five points from last month.

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KEB & AIRPLUS

AirPlus International has signed partnership agreements with Korea Exchange
Bank(KEB) to provide its Korean corporate customers with the “AirPlus
Corporate Card”. This card provides customers with integrated travel
payment,
a payment analysis and cost analysis for travel. This analysis of travel
expenses
provides customers access to the “AirPlus Information Manager” management
information system for recognition of cost cutting opportunities, thus
a basis for
negotiations with airlines, hotels and car rental companies. AirPlus
International
has over 32,000 corporate customers offering travel with nearly 260
airlines
while KEB credit cards leads the industry in Korea.

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Card Executives Defend Risk-Based Pricing

After dragging out a number of consumer credit card sob stories before a congressional panel investigating the “universal default” practice, credit card executives stood their ground yesterday. A Discover executive said that a ban on universal default is like “taking the batteries out of a smoke detector.” Card executives and banking industry representatives insist they need to adjust pricing to cardholder risk and funding costs. The industry predicted that a prohibition on risk-based pricing is likely to limit credit availability and raise overall card pricing. The Senate subcommittee, headed by Democratic Senator Carl Levin, also sharply criticized the president of BofA’s card services for raising rates when credit scores change. However, the BofA executive questioned the new policies by Citi and Chase to stop universal default.

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TRAVEL BAROMETER

American Express Business Travel’s “Barometer” China Business Travel
Survey results, conducted by Research International, have been released.
The research, conducted over the summer of 2007 with 230 Chinese
companies, shows that 53% are expecting an increase in business travel
expenses for 2008 because of a the recent boom in Chinese commerce.
Additional “Barometer” findings show that 46% of companies increased
Travel and expenses (T&E) budgets, 69% of expenditure takes place in
Mainland China, T&E is the second largest controllable cost and employees
whom travel is up from 28% in 2006 to 33% in 2007. Furthermore, 81%
of the companies surveyed indicated that they have a T&E policy, 86%
measure the efficiency of their T&E, 93% have rules for air travel and
nearly 50% utilize travel agencies. American Express Business Travel
provides travel services over a network of more than 2,200 service
locations in over 140 countries and had sales of over US$21.8 billion
2006.

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Cyber Wednesday Produces Peak E-Sales

Online sales data show that Tuesday and Wednesday are bigger shopping days on the Internet than Monday. The latest Chase Paymentech “Pulse Index,” which tracks e-merchants, found that overall online sales are running 30% above last year levels. On “Cyber Monday,” November 26th, sales volume for the 10 retail Web sites tracked by the “Index” hit $104.8 million. But, online sales volume rose to $134 million on Wednesday November 28th, an all-time high in the three-year history of the “Index.” However, sales fell to $113.4 million on Thursday, November 29th and declined until Monday, December 3rd. Chase Paymentech says the biggest online sales day will likely come December 18th-20th. The “Index” tracks an average of one million payment transactions each day. The “Index” also provides comparative data from 2006 and 2005 to provide a perspective on how consumer shopping habits are evolving from year to year. The 2006 holiday season saw a “Pulse Index” total of $3.262 billion in net sales tracked, with a single-day high of $118.8 million set on December 15th, 2006.

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BofA Set to Distribute AmEx Gift Cards

American Express “Gift Cards” are set to take-off next week when participating Bank of America retail banking centers begin offering the cards. American Express “Gift Cards” in $25, $50, and $100 denominations will be available via BofA by December 10th. AmEx gift cards are currently available at more than 65,000 locations nationwide. AmEx is the nation’s largest issuer of open gift cards, and sold more gift cards last year than in all prior years combined since the introduction of its gift card product in 2002. In June, General Growth Properties became the first shopping center developer and management company to offer a line of themed “American Express Gift Cards” for special occasions. In October, AmEx launched a new line of customizable gift cards. (CF Library 6/15/07; 10/21/07)

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GE Money & National Payment Card Partner

FL-based decoupled ACH debit card provider National Payment Card and GE Money Partnership Marketing Group have established a relationship that links National Payment Card’s ACH-based alternate payment system with the GE Motor Club. Participating merchants benefit from increased enrollment in the National Payment Card system resulting in lower credit card processing fees and greater consumer loyalty with the combination of these two programs. National Payment Card uses the lower-cost Automated Clearing House Network to process payments, charging a flat-rate fee per transaction, resulting in reduced processing fees. Consumers who enroll in the National Payment Card driver’s license program, a related affinity or loyalty program will receive an immediate price discount at the pump on every gallon of gas. Consumers will also have the opportunity to enroll in a free 90-day trial of the GE Motor Club with benefits that include free towing, free lockout service, fuel delivery, flat tire and jump start services.

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Hitachi Consulting & Paymetric Form Alliance

Hitachi Consulting has entered in an alliance with payment card software provider Paymetric to deliver packaged card acceptance and purchasing card integration solutions for SAP payments. For companies managing customer relationships using SAP CRM, the packaged solution blends “XiPay”, Paymetric’s SAP-certified card acceptance software with Hitachi Consulting’s knowledge in SAP CRM integrations. “XiPay” enables companies to seamlessly accept, manage, and protect credit card transactions within the framework of SAP-enabled business processes and workflows. The alliance also offers a packaged solution for streamlining procure-to-pay processes in SAP. Companies can leverage Hitachi Consulting’s SAP knowledge to implement Paymetric’s XiBuy, a certified SAP add-on solution for managing and integrating purchasing card transactions in SAP.

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