NETELLER & CENTRICOM

Neteller has completed the acquisition of Centricom Limited for AUD
$5million extending its presence as a merchant payments hub. Furthermore,
this development expands Neteller’s hold in the Asia Pacific online payment
market and allows the extension of Centricom’s POLiTM payment platform
to more merchants. Resulting from the acquisition, Neteller will be
appointing a director to the Centricom board, which is backed Jagen group,
an international investment group that is also the Centricom majority
shareholder.

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i2c Hires a New Account Advocate

i2c, a specialist in transaction processing and stored value card management solutions, announced that Monica Hoang has joined as an Account Advocate. Prior to joining i2c, Hoang worked in account coordination and management for a Financial and Health Care organization. Hoang’s primary role is to develop the relationship with senior decision-makers within our client’s organization and to maintain an understanding of their business in terms of current performance and future strategies. The position also involves, ensuring the client is constantly driving maximum value from our products for business benefit and competitive advantage. She holds a B.A. in Mass Communications and Biological Sciences from California University of Hayward. i2c is a global technology provider of electronic payment processing solutions.

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Small Biz Card Users Want Gas Discounts

New research shows that about 75% of small business credit card users have some type of reward associated with their business or corporate credit card. However, the survey revealed there is a gap between card rewards that are valued by small businesses and those that are actually used or held on small business credit cards. Atlanta-based Synergistics Research found that slightly more than one-quarter say they receive cash rebates through their small business credit card, while about two-thirds indicate this would be a valuable reward for them. Less than one-fifth receive gasoline discounts of any kind, while almost six in ten say this would be valuable. One-quarter say they receive travel discounts, but almost six in ten cite this reward as valuable. Likewise, one-quarter say they have travel discounts on their small business credit card, while more than half value this reward.

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AmEx Inks Another U.S. Biz Card Agent

American Express announced another agent bank marketing agreement, this time in the Chicago area. Harris Bank will jointly market with the AmEx “OPEN” team small business charge and credit cards beginning in late September. The three new co-branded business cards will offered through more than 230 Harris branches in Chicago and Indiana. The “SimplyCash Business Card” offers up to 5% cash back annually on gas, office supplies, and wireless purchases and 1% on most other purchases. The “Business Gold Rewards Card” and “Business Platinum Card” offers automatic enrollment in the “Membership Rewards.” All three cards include access to the “OPEN Savings” program.

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AirPlus Corporate Card Launches in Asia

VA-based AirPlus International has launched the “AirPlus Corporate Card” in South East Asia . The AirPlus Corporate Card, combined with the benefits of the AirPlus Company Account, offers comprehensive travel data management, as well as credit and settlement services. Designed for medium to large sized corporations, the AirPlus Corporate Card provides business travelers with a payment solution for all their T&E expenses. When paired with the AirPlus Company Account, the lodged air UATP travel payment product, the AirPlus Corporate Card provides a complete solution to a company’s business travel payment needs. The data captured through the AirPlus Company Account and Corporate Card is amongst the most robust in the industry. For corporations requiring a fully integrated travel management solution; the AirPlus product suite is most appealing. The card, issued with United Overseas Bank Ltd., is available in Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam. AirPlus International is a provider of business travel payment solutions, offering lodge card accounts, corporate cards and online management tools with more than 32,000 corporate customers worldwide.

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Kmart Begins Consumer Dormancy Fee Refunds

A settlement between Kmart and the FTC over Kmart’s gift card has been finalized. This was the FTC’s first law enforcement action involving gift cards. Under a settlement with the FTC, Kmart will publicize the refund program on its Web site. Under the order, consumers must contact Kmart to determine if they are eligible for a refund for any dormancy fee charged. If it is determined that a consumer’s Kmart gift card had a dormancy fee imposed against it, Kmart will mail the consumer a new gift card with a balance equal to the amount deducted in fees. According to the FTC’s complaint, Kmart promoted the card as equivalent to cash but failed to disclose that fees are assessed after two years of non-use and misrepresented that the card would never expire. As of May 1, 2006, Kmart stopped charging a dormancy fee on all Kmart gift cards. (CF Library 3/13/07)

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Smaller Balance Collections Rise in July

A monthly collections industry index increased by 4% in July driven by double-digit sequential improvements in smaller account balances and offset by single-digit declines in larger balance accounts under $3,000. On a year over year basis, the Index rose 12%, compared to a 6.0% decline in the prior month. The SunTrust Robinson Humphrey “Settlement-in-Full Index” reports its metric increased to 76.1% in July, compared to 72.9% in June. Settlements/payments under $500 increased 18% year-over-year in July as settlements/payments between $500 and $1,000 increased 32%; settlements/payments between $1,000 and $3,000 increased 2.6%; and settlements/payments from $3,000 to $7,000 decreased by 1%. The “SIFI” is a proprietary monthly research tool that measures the success of collections agencies in collecting bad debts that they have purchased. The data are based on five agencies including Arrow Financial Services, Oliphant Financial Corporation, Phoenix Credit Solutions, and Zenith Acquisition.

SIFI COMPOSITE
(not seasonally adjusted)
Jan 07: 77.1%
Feb 07: 81.5%
Mar 07: 72.5%
Apr 07: 74.5%
May 07: 83.0%
Jun 07: 72.9%
Jul 07: 76.1%
Source: SunTrust Robinson Humphrey

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JUNE DEBT

Credit card debt climbed again in June setting a new record of A$40.8 billion. However, credit card volume inched up by only 5% compared to one year ago and remains sluggish in the wake of credit card surcharge fees charged to consumers. Credit card debt rose 11%, compared to June 2006. Credit card limits also reached a new high at A$108.5 billion, marking the tenth consecutive month of A$100+ billion. Card volume was A$16.5 billion during June, compared to a previous record of A$17.1 billion set in December, according to the Reserve Bank of Australia. One-year ago credit card debt stood at A$36.6 billion. There are currently 13.5 million credit card and charge card accounts in Australia, compared to 13.0 million one-year ago.

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Gen Y Wants More Than Online & M-Banking

A new study has found that consumers ages 18 to 29 are more likely to choose providers and manage their finances through a mixture of traditional and new methods and not just alternative channels and technologies. The research by Javelin Strategy found that regardless of Gen Y’s proclivity to initiate online transactions and use mobile phones and technology in general, Javelin data shows that Gen Y is not ready to abandon the brick-and mortar, or other channels, to go completely online or to the handset for all their banking needs. Also, as opposed to most other consumers, security threats are not motivators for Gen Y and, while Javelin data show that younger consumers are the most likely to suffer fraud compared to any other age group, Gen Y fraud victims are significantly less likely than other adults to use basic precautions prior to their information being compromised. Javelin noted that in the last 12 months 80% of older Gen Y used an ATM for either a deposit or withdrawal, 59% used an automated telephone system to perform a banking transaction, and 90% visited a branch, demonstrating an apparent demand for multi-channel availability.

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MCHEK/PAYMENTS

mChek has introduced its on-demand payment solution, “mChek/Payments”,
in Sri Lanka for Dialog Telekom and NDB Bank customers. The new
solution enables payment for utility bills/pre-paid top-ups,
over-the-counter
commerce, remote commerce, and mobile banking. The solution also allows
merchants to implement mobile phones as Point of Sale Terminals and Utility
bill payment kiosks. Because of Sri Lanka’s significant cash-based market,
developments such as these are emerging as solutions to utilize mobile
technology that complies with existing banking industry practices,
government
regulations and specifications. Dialog Telekom mobile phones serve over 3.5
Million Sri Lankans.

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Merrick Bank Hits a Ten-Year Milestone

UT-based Merrick Bank, a subsidiary of CardWorks, reports it has hit the ten-year mark serving over 1 million cardholders, has $1 billion in assets, and has become a Top-20 merchant acquirer. Merrick Bank was founded in 1997 and is a premier issuer of non-prime credit cards. Merrick Bank is a top-25 issuer of VISA cards, as well as an authorized issuer of MasterCard cards. Merrick Bank is a Utah Industrial Bank and is a member of the FDIC. The Bank also sponsors 40 ISOs and processes for 150,000 merchants with $20 billion in MasterCard and Visa sales volume. CardWorks is the parent company of CardWorks Servicing (formerly CMS) and Merrick Bank. CardWorks Servicing is a nationally recognized, leading servicer of credit cards, national debit cards, pre-funded cards and other card products.

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