Americans Mostly Understand Financial Basics

The third annual survey of America’s IQ on personal finance shows that Americans understand financial management basics, but that significant gaps still exist in their knowledge. The national survey of 1,003 men and women, conducted by consumer advocacy group Consumer Action and Capital One Financial finds that many Americans are missing important savings opportunities, and don’t take simple steps to protect themselves from crimes like identity theft. The 2007 survey found that: the majority of Americans (64%) consider themselves highly or very knowledgeable when it comes to personal finance; a strong majority of Americans use budgets to stay on top of their daily finances – 64% reported using budgets regularly; most Americans (53%) are still using traditional passbook savings accounts for their savings; and one in five Americans (22%) claim they do not know the interest rate on their mortgage.

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RBS Lynk Names a New Loyalty/Prepaid Executive

RBS Lynk announced the appointment of Asif Ramji as a SVP for the company’s prepaid and loyalty division. Ramji and his team will create the strategic initiatives to further grow RBS Lynk’s closed-loop and open-loop prepaid business and further opportunities in the rapidly emerging loyalty card market. Ramji has more than 12 years of experience in the prepaid and loyalty card transaction processing industry. Most recently he was North American vice president of sales with Ernex, the prepaid and loyalty card division of Moneris Solutions Corporation. Ramji was responsible for growing Ernex’s and Moneris’ prepaid and loyalty revenues by establishing leadership in key verticals and aggressively pursuing new market opportunities.

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PAY88 ONLINE EXPANSION

Pay88 has announced that its sales expansion for online, multi player
games is developing as projected with plans for expansion into the
Shanghai market. Following the recent success in the Chongqing market,
Pay88 will use similar techniques to penetrate the Shanghai market,
utilizing
new and established relationships. These developments are part of an effort
on behalf of Pay88 to accelerate sales of online, multi-player game cards
throughout China. Pay88 provides prepaid cards through an established
distribution network and online web presence over a secure platform for
transferring money and making online purchases. Over the next year,
the company plans to establish its services in 20 cities throughout the
country.

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ICT GROUP Completes PCI Certification

PA-based ICT GROUP has successfully completed its security audit and achieved full certification as a Level 1 Service Provider under the Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standard. ICT GROUP worked with an independent audit firm to achieve official validation and certification for its products and services under the credit card industry’s PCI security standard. Certification involved a complete audit with a 12-step approval process, ensuring that ICT GROUP has built and maintained a secure network, protected cardholder data, maintained a vulnerability management program, implemented strong access control measures, regularly monitored and tested networks, and maintained an information security policy. ICT GROUP is a global provider of customer management and business process outsourcing solutions.

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CONFERENCE BAY & GLOBALCOLLECT

Conference Bay conference portal and GlobalCollect payment service
have recently signed partnership agreements to allow patrons to make
reservations online using GlobalCollect’s “WebCollect” payment platform.
The “WebCollect” solution allows payment processing of all major
currencies and accepts all major credit cards. GlobalCollect
payment methods provided through the solution are accepted globally in
over 200 countries with many different methods. Conference Bay was
established for the purpose of providing resources that allow organizing,
visiting and speaking at conferences as snag-free as possible.

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General Banking Fees Hit All-Time Highs

A new report has found that banking fees have hit all-time highs in several areas, including ATM surcharges of $1.78, bounced check fees of $28.32 and monthly service fees on interest checking accounts of $11.72. FL-based Bankrate says the most prevalent ATM surcharge is now $2.00, up from $1.50 in previous surveys. The ATM surcharge is assessed by 99 percent of the banks in the survey. The average fee charged by banks when their own customers use another bank’s ATM held steady at $1.25. This remains the lowest since 2002. The trend of the past couple years has been to enhance customer satisfaction by providing free or lower-cost access to non-bank ATMs. However, the fee-friendly policies often debut as a feature of certain accounts, rather than a bank-wide policy, though more banks are now instituting it across both interest and non-interest accounts.

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CAP ONE REWARDS CARD

Capital One has introduced a no-fee/”no-hassle” rewards card in response
to a recent survey suggesting such criteria is popular. The recent survey,
sponsored by Capital One, shows that only 10% of Canadian consumers
were satisfied with their current rewards card. Moreover, 42% of the
participants were bothered by annual fees and 42% were frustrated with
expiry dates on credit card rewards programs. In addition, 53% would
prefer a cash back reward, 26% prefer gift certificates, 24% would be
happy with merchandise, and 39% prefer travel rewards. Therefore,
Capital One’s rewards card also offers one reward mile for every dollar
spent, a “welcome” bonus of 5,000 miles with first purchase, no limit on
the
rewards customers can earn, no expiration on rewards for the life of your
account, and no blackout dates or seat restrictions among other consumer-
friendly features.

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Online Transactions to More Than Double by 2012

A new study shows that online transactions will more than double to reach $355.2 billion over the next five years. Javelin Strategy & Research says by 2012, 30% of Americans will turn to online alternative payments, instead of reaching to their wallet for a traditional credit card. The research predicts that online alternative transactions will more than double by 2012 as consumers increasingly view these methods as a vehicle for secure and convenient transactions. Traditional brands and methods will endure representing the largest dollar amount and percentage of total online transactions, but that percentage will slip to 44% by 2012, according to the study. Debit card reward programs and promotions continue to lure younger consumers and will help to nearly triple the debit card transaction volume to $93.9 billion by 2012. Javelin predicts that credit card use will continue to represent the largest dollar amount growth, but the percent of online transaction volume will decrease from 60% to 44% by 2012.

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MCCORMICK & SCHNICK AND GIVEX

Operating on the Givex integrated “Squirrel” gift and loyalty program,
McCormick & Schmick’s “Preferred Guest Membership Program” has
been reported to be successful. The seafood restaurant’s loyalty program
provides customers with rewards that offer one point per dollar
spent. These points are redeemable for gifts, travel packages and food.
Since April 2006, the program has acquired 20,000 members. McCormick
& Schmick Seafood operates 77 restaurants, including 5 in Canada under The
Boathouse brand, and was established 35 years ago. Givex provides closed
loop card processing in North America and Europe.

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ATG Commerce Offers PayPal Express Checkout

MA-based E-commerce provider ATG has announced the complete integration of PayPal Express Checkout as a payment option in ATG Commerce. PayPal Express Checkout users store their preferred credit, debit or checking account information via their PayPal account and do not have to re-enter this information on individual sites.In making full service PayPal functionality available across ATG Commerce and ATG Commerce OnDemand, ATG is providing merchants the ability to drive incremental sales and increase online conversions with one of the leading online payment methods.

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FDC & AUSTIN LOGISTICS

First Data has announced the completion of the integration Austin
Logistics’ predictive analytic “EarlyDetection System” with its own
“VisionPLUS” card processing. The card processing platform is used
by the large card issuers and as an outsourcing platform by First Data
International in Shanghai. Austin Logistics Inc provides analytic
software to predict customer behavior for account assessments. The
company’s “EarlyDetection” provides First Data International customers
with a program to predict revenue, varying levels of account activation
and fraud/delinquency risk. First Data International has over 8,100
employees around the world and serves over 5 million merchant locations,
1,900 card issuers and offers PIN-secured debit acceptance at 2 million
ATM and retail locations.

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Transunion Targets Authorized User Abusers

TransUnion has expanded its authorized user solution offerings by identifying consumers who may have added authorized user relationships to their credit files in an attempt to artificially enhance their credit standing. TransUnion worked with top mortgage lending institutions to analyze the impact of the authorized user dynamic on risk assessment and lending practices. The company then developed a comprehensive solution suite to help make more informed decisions throughout the customer lifecycle, from acquisition to portfolio review to valuation. Financial institutions can select which components of the suite best meet their specific needs. “Authorized User Characteristics” describe various aspects of authorized usership on a given credit file to help predict abuse. “Authorized User Custom Analysis” identifies the segment(s) of high-risk consumers within the portfolio or applicant population that have demonstrated a significant change in their credit profile due to the recent addition of authorized user accounts to their respective credit files. The solution is customized according to a financial institution’s specific credit criteria, business model and risk tolerance.

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