MoneyGram to Acquire PropertyBridge

MN-based MoneyGram International has reached an agreement to acquire PropertyBridge, Inc., a leading provider of electronic payment processing services for the real estate management industry. PropertyBridge offers a complete solution to the resident payment cycle, including the ability to electronically accept deposits and rent payments, plus collect outstanding debt. Residents can pay rent online, by phone or in person and set up recurring payments. MoneyGram intends to keep the current PropertyBridge founding management team and structure in place after the acquisition. Financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. MoneyGram has $1.2 billion in revenue in 2006 and approximately 125,000 global money transfer agent locations in 170 countries and territories.

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PURCHASE CARD

Halifax this week launched a new card offering the longest 0% introductory interest rate offer on purchases in the UK credit card market. The “Purchase Card,” which is a MasterCard, offers the 0% APR for 15 months. The new card also offers a 0% rate for 6 months on balance transfer, however, a one-time 3% transfer fee applies. The typical APR for the “Purchase Card” is about 14.9%. Halifax also offers the “Anniversary One Card” which 0% for 9 months on both balance transfers and purchases with a typical APR of just 13.9%, plus an extra 0% for 6 months on new balance transfers from the start of the calendar month after the first anniversary of account opening (3% fee applies to
balance transfers).

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Elan Financial Buys the FNB United Portfolio

NC-based FNB United, parent of CommunityONE Bank has sold its credit card portfolio, along with multiple portfolios acquired from former Integrity and United subsidiaries, to Élan Financial Services. As a result of the sale, FNB United Corp will recognize a $1.3 million non-recurring gain which will be reported with its third quarter results. Of that amount, $1.0 million will be from the sale of the portfolio and $300,000 resulting from the recapture of the allowance for loan loss reserve associated with the $4.0 million sold portfolio. Concurrently, a $250,000 expense has been recognized to cover the buyout of two of the unexpired contracts with VISA.

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LO PLUS & ENTERCARD PARTNERSHIP

LO Plus and EnterCard have signed a partnership agreement combining
features of their respective credit card products. With this, LO Plus
members will have the opportunity to upgrade their card for international
acceptance, a MasterCard credit card with membership benefits and
payment functionality in LO Plus partnership stores. LO Plus has signed
100 partner organizations for a total of 1,000 retail outlets. The LO
Plus membership base is composed of 1.2 million members, 750,000 of
which are Danish, and is represented by 25% of the Danish adult
population.

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Wells Fargo Mobile for Business is Launched

Wells Fargo & Company has introduced Wells Fargo Mobile for small businesses that gives small business owners nationwide access to their business and personal financial information. Once enrolled in the Wells Fargo Mobile service, small business customers can check balances of their small business and personal deposit and credit accounts, view transaction history, and transfer money between eligible Wells Fargo accounts on any Web-enabled mobile device by accessing the mobile banking URL wf.com. All Wells Fargo Mobile service transactions are covered by the Wells Fargo 100% Online Security Guarantee. Wells Fargo & Company is a diversified financial services company with $540 billion in assets.

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Radiant Systems Selects BIO-key for Terminals

NJ-based Biometric ID provider BIO-key International and Radiant Systems announced that Radiant has selected BIO-key’s fingerprint identification technology for integration into its biometrically enabled POS terminals. With the BIO-key fingerprint biometric solution integrated into the POS terminal, identification cards and passwords are replaced with the touch of an employee’s or customer’s finger to positively establish their identity to the POS system. In addition to being more convenient, the BIO-key solution eliminates the possibility of sharing passwords or identity cards, and assures that manager overrides are properly authenticated. Atlanta based Radiant Systems is a global provider in providing technology to the hospitality and retail industries.

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Payday Lenders Being Forced Out in D.C.

Despite a huge media blitz to protect its turf, payday lenders will most likely be shutting down in the lucrative Washington, DC market. The District of Columbia Council yesterday removed an exemption from the District’s 24% cap on annual interest for consumer loans. The Council vote reversed an exemption passed in 1998, which allowed payday lenders to charge effective interest rates of 350% to 550%, according to the Center for Responsible Lending. District payday borrowers have been paying about $3 million per year in fees for such payday loans. “The Payday Loan Consumer Protection Act” was introduced by council member Marion Barry. Barry said 60,000 DC residents use payday lending, making 700,000 transactions per year.

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Mobile Payment Ecosystems Present Challenges

A new report suggests that U.S. mobile operators may face real challenges in deciding how they will generate new revenue in a mobile payments ecosystem that could soon be dominated by financial services firms. The study says non-voice services make up a growing share of operators’ average revenue per user. The possibilities are expanding quickly to enable consumers to use a mobile phone to make purchases at retail stores in place of cash, credit or debit cards, and checks. In the case of remote transactions, consumers use mobile phones to purchase mobile content and applications and complete peer-to-peer and international fund transfers. Chicago-based Diamond Management & Technology Consultants says m-payments’ associated fees to mobile operators will help them fill the gap in $40 billion non-voice revenues they need to generate by 2010 to sustain overall average revenue per user. Diamond believes the largest potential for adoption of m-payments is in in-store micro-payments and remote macro-transactions, and micro-transactions.

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MobiClear Announces Beefs-Up Mobile Account

MobiClear has announced the application of their proprietary personal identification verification (PIV) technology to their “Mobile Account” solution as well as their 3G Video Bank solution. MobiClear’s proprietary technology Mobile Account works as follows: The user accesses Mobile Account by placing a call from a 3G mobile phone; MobiClear secures that the call is placed from the mobile phone number that is registered for the particular user; the user confirms his identity with his MobiClear PIN code, the user enters the Mobile Account and selects option to either transfer money to another mobile account user or to withdraw or deposit funds to their banking institution. The user receives information as an interactive video presented by a host, accompanied by voice messages as well as short written information. MobiClear specializes in electronic Personal Identification Verification (PIV) solutions in connection with credit/debit card transactions.

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MUNICARD MASTERCARD

The City of Vaughan has teamed with GE Money and Civic Strategies to
launch a credit card that produces savings on municipal property tax
bills. The “MuniCard MasterCard” offers no annual fee and rewards on all
purchases good towards the cardholder’s residential property tax
account. Reward points never go unused because they are deposited in the
property owner’s municipal tax account. Also, Civic Strategies’
“MuniCard Program” includes a merchant discount program and residents
benefit from POS discounts offered by local merchants enrolled in the
program. GE Money is the first in Canada to market this co-brand
municipal credit card. Toronto-based Civic Strategies will provide
everything from a controlled audit system between the city and GE Money,
to complete customer and marketing support.

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Holiday Gift Cards May Approach $35B This Year

A new research study has predicted that gift card purchases may hit $35 billion this holiday season, a 28% increase over last year. CT-based Archstone Consulting says more than 56% of gift cards are redeemed within the first month of purchase; 85% of all cards are redeemed within three months; and almost 50% of the respondents spend more than the value of the card upon redemption. Also, luxury, auto and music were generally the first cards to be redeemed within the first month; entertainment, food and beverage, and mass stores gift cards were among the higher redemption rates within three months; and after three months, consumers tend to have the most cards outstanding in the travel, luxury, and home improvement categories. The survey was conducted by in collaboration with The Hazelton Group.

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