Billeo Boosts Points for Online Payments

Billeo has launched a series of online bill payment solutions which offers the average Billeo user more than 5,000 additional points per year as part of their increased card activity. Billeo streamlines online bill payment from one-step password search and log-on to one-click completion of online shopping forms and easy payment of bills. Consumers that pay bills online typically visit 12-15 different biller websites per month. In the process, they have to remember scores of URLs, passwords, payment due dates and print out confirmation forms. With Billeo, this complicated and unwieldy process is eliminated. Setting up Billeo takes just minutes, yet saves hundreds of hours each year and cuts the tedium and work of online purchasing and bill paying. Bills can even be paid on the day they are due, giving consumers access to their funds until the minute payment is necessary. With Billeo, payment is instantaneous and users get a payment confirmation immediately. Over 40 banks, 6 of the top ten card issuers and over 6,000 companies across 26 categories are part of the Billeo network including VISA, Chase, Wachovia, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and Target.

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Canada’s HBC to Launch a Chip Trial

Canada’s Hudson’s Bay Company and MasterCard have signed agreements to implement MasterCard’s chip card technology at Hbc retail locations early next year. For the preparation of this development, the companies’ will launch a trial in the Kitchener-Waterloo area to prepare for the nationwide roll-out of the chip cards, which holds information on a chip in an encrypted form for use with a PIN for security. Nationwide implementation is planned for 2011 for the Hbc stores which includes the Bay, Zellers, Designer Depot, Home Outfitters and Fields stores. Since 2005, MasterCard has been working closely with its 12 Canadian card issuers, the five major Canadian payment processing companies, and merchants to get ready for the broad-based introduction of chip cards in Canada by 2010.

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May Phishing Slams Financial Services Firms

The number of phishing URLs deployed to spread crimeware among consumer PCs rose to an all-time record in May to 3,353, an increase of 7.4% more than the previous high in February and of nearly 95% more than in April. In May, financial services firms accounted for nearly 97% of all attacked brands. According to the Anti-Phishing Working Group phishers are apparently expanding their attacks beyond different categories of financial services firms besides conventional banks. The IRS and one tax preparation company were also phished in May, and there is some evidence that smaller brokerages may be getting phished. The number of unique phishing Web sites detected by APWG was 37,438 in May 2007, a drop of over 18,000 from April. The number of unique Web sites hosting keyloggers hit an all time high in May at 3,353. Phishing is a form of online identity theft that employs both social engineering and technical subterfuge to steal consumers’ personal identity data and financial account credentials. Social-engineering schemes use ‘spoofed’ e-mails to lead consumers to counterfeit websites designed to trick recipients into divulging financial data such as account usernames and passwords.

PHISHING ATTACKS
Dec 06: 23,787
Jan 07: 29,930
Feb 07: 23,610
Mar 07: 24,853
Apr 07: 23,656
May 07: 23,415
Source: Anti-Phishing Working Group

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CIO Magazine Recognizes Discover Card

Discover Financial Services has been recognized by CIO magazine as one of the top 100 organizations that exemplify operational and strategic excellence in information technology. The selection process for choosing this year’s CIO 100 winners included an application detailing innovative practices in business and technology, review by CIO magazine editors and writers, and a daylong meeting to debate the merits of each nominee. The name of Discover’s technology department was changed from Information Technology to Business Technology (BT) in 1999 to better reflect its focus on the company’s bottom line and the pursuit of technology to drive business goals. CIO magazine addresses issues vital to the success of chief information officers worldwide.

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Datacard Meritas – Asset Management Software

MN-based Datacard Group has launched “Datacard Meritas” digital asset management software for managing thousands of images and assets that issuers use to produce cards, secure IDs, passports, tokens and other materials. Meritas software automates the steps necessary to push assets from development to test to approval to production to archiving. Users can customize enforceable workflow procedures, so every asset is handled the same way and complies with production rules. The software also helps eliminate manual file searching and automates version control.Datacard Group provides secure ID and card personalization solutions.

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AmEx Women Entrepreneur Program Hits Austin

Texas plays host to the second-ever state-based American Express “Make Mine a Million $ Business” competition on October 4th in Austin where women business owners will compete for resources designed to help them build million-dollar enterprises. The program was launched by Count Me In for Women’s Economic Independence and founding partner OPEN from American Express in 2005 to help post-start-up, women-owned businesses exceed $1 million in revenues, a benchmark that only 3% of women currently reach. In Texas, there are 676,296 women-owned businesses and 17,844 (2.6%) have reached the million-dollar milestone. OPEN from American Express is the team dedicated exclusively to the success of small business owners and their companies.

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Consumer Confidence Continues to Erode

U.S. consumer confidence continues to erode as the “RBC CASH Index” now stands at 76.1 for July, more than five points below June’s 81.4 level and now at its lowest level since last August. Economic attitudes weakened across the board, with consumers viewing the current economy negatively and displaying growing pessimism about the future. Americans’ pessimism about the economy now includes concerns about job losses and job security. Expectations regarding future economic conditions also declined in July. Consumers’ confidence in the investment climate cooled only slightly this month, compared to the dramatic 20 point drop experienced in June. The “Index” is composed of four sub-indices: “RBC Current Conditions Index;” “RBC Expectations Index;” “RBC Investment Index;” and the “RBC Jobs Index.”

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Charge-Offs Head Higher; Delinquencies Abate

Charge-offs, among “prime” credit card-backed securities, headed higher in May hitting a new sixteen month high. Although the figure is only 32 basis points above January’s peak, it is 105 basis points above the year-ago level. However, the 60+ day delinquency ratio, which is an indicator of future charge-offs, declined by three basis points in May. According to FitchRatings, “prime” charge-offs for May were 4.63% compared to 4.51% in the prior month and 3.58% for May 2006. The “prime” 60-plus day delinquency index for May was 2.61%, compared to 2.64% in April and 2.41% one-year ago.

CREDIT CARD ABS METRICS
CHARGE-OFFS DELINQUENCY*
Dec 06: 4.21% 2.59%
Jan 07: 4.31% 2.57%
Feb 07: 4.13% 2.66%
Mar 07: 4.36% 2.69%
Apr 07: 4.51% 2.64%
May 07: 4.63% 2.61%
* 60+ day
Source: Fitch Ratings

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Pipeline Data AIRCHARGE Aims for BlackBerry

Pipeline Data’s AIRCHARGE subsidiary has released a solution to Dobson Communications for mobile merchants to accept credit card payments over BlackBerry devices. The AIRCHARGE payment processing software can be loaded onto the customer’s BlackBerry over-the-air and is compatible with virtually any merchant processing account. AIRCHARGE credit card payment devices are used by merchants to accept payments in many types of mobile environments where access to standard phone lines is limited, expensive, or not convenient or available. Dobson is the largest independent rural wireless provider in the United States. Pipeline Data is a value-added provider of merchant payment processing services and other related software products.

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TransUnion & Experian Exploit Credit Reports

A new study shows that Web sites aggressively advertising “free” credit reports are charging consumers for services they are unlikely to need, while drawing attention away from the site created by law to provide consumers with free credit data every year. Consumer Reports WebWatch study found that of the 24 sites analyzed, nine were owned by or closely connected to TransUnion and eight were owned by or otherwise closely connected to Experian, the largest advertiser on the Web. This concentrated market structure has potentially negative consequences for competition and aspects of market performance. Credit monitoring services cost as much as $160 per year on these sites. Credit scores can cost as much as $75.

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Smith Barney Moves to the ThankYou Network

Smith Barney has joined Citi’s “ThankYou Network” rewards program as a sponsor, allowing Smith Barney clients to earn “ThankYou Points” for using products and services available from Smith Barney. Smith Barney joins Citi Cards, Citibank and Expedia.com as sponsors of ThankYou Network, which now includes more than 11 million members. Initially, Smith Barney will offer the no-fee rewards program to its clients with a Financial Management Account. Clients will receive one “ThankYou Point” per dollar spent on purchases made with their “Citi FMA MasterCard” linked to the FMA Account, with no limit on the points clients can earn and no expiration date. “ThankYou Network” replaces the Smith Barney “Travel and Rewards Program.” All unused points earned with the “FMA Card” were automatically transferred to the cardmembers’ new “ThankYou Member Accounts.”

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