Chase Cards Snags a Top AmEx Executive

Chase snagged a 25+ year American Express veteran to run its Card Services group. Gordon Smith, former president of AmEx’s Global Commercial Card group, took over yesterday. Chase confirmed that Richard Srednicki, who headed the card unit, will be retiring next quarter. Chase says it began the search for a new card executive several months ago after Srednicki indicated he wanted to retire this year. Srednicki joined Chase in 2000 and is 60 years old. Prior to running AmEx’s Global Commercial Card business, Smith led AmEx’s Consumer Card Services group from 2001 to 2005. He will also join Chase’s Operating Committee and will report to Jamie Dimon, Chairman and CEO.

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Element Payment Signs Massage Envy

Element Payment Services announced that AZ-based Massage Envy Limited has selected Element’s “Express IP” payment platform for its 220 locations. Element’s “Express IP” payment platform provides Massage Envy with a PCI-certified solution that is easy to manage and can readily scale with their business in a safe, secure manner. Element’s Express suite of products include Element Express Payment Platform, PASS (Payment Account Secure Storage)and Virtual Terminal. Massage Envy offers professional, convenient and affordable therapeutic massage services at upscale retail centers nationwide. Element Payment Services is a registered Merchant Service Provider that provides secure credit, debit, check conversion and guarantee, EBT, and gift/loyalty card solutions.

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Wells Combines Biz Checking w/Processing

Wells Fargo has introduced a new product for small businesses that combines a full-service business checking account with credit and debit card processing at a flat discount rate. “Wells Fargo Merchant Checking” offers a flat rate of 1.99% plus $.30 for all signature-based VISA and MasterCard transactions. It also offers a simple pricing structure applicable to all card types, including rewards cards, as well as for both keyed and swiped transactions. Wells notes that the new product allows small business owners to begin accepting credit and debit card payments and have access to funds as soon as the next business day in the associated business checking account. Wells Fargo Merchant Services provides payment processing services to over 214,000 merchant outlets with a total annual processing volume in excess of $77 billion.

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SCM Microsystems CEO to Step Down

Germany-based SCM Microsystems announced that founder and CEO Robert Schneider will leave SCM at the end of the month. Schneider’s decision to step down follows a successful restructuring of SCM’s operations that has increased focus on the company’s PC Security business and resulted in a significantly reduced cost structure, strengthening the company’s position as a provider of secure reader technology for the global smart card applications market. SCM’s Board of Directors has initiated a search for a new chief executive officer. Stephan Rohaly, SCM’s current chief financial officer, will take on the role of interim CEO. SCM Microsystems is a supplier of digital content and services.

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PAYWAVE COMBO CARD

Cathay United Bank has introduced a super card that combines contactless credit, transit fare collection and chip-based ATM access onto one card. The new “VISA payWave Combo EasyCard” will carry dual-interface chips, with contact and contactless interfaces. The contact interface in Taiwan will be used for ATM access, via an application complying with the international EMV standard. VISA says three other issuers will also launch contactless VISA cards with the “EasyCard” bus and subway payment application onboard by year’s end. VISA is expecting to have about two million of such cards in Taiwan market. VISA Asia-Pacific says it has about 1.1 million contactless cards in Taiwan.

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June Consumer Spending to Remain Steady

A new survey has found that 85% of U.S. adults will spend the same or more in June than they did last month despite concerns about the economy. The “Discover Spending Confidence Monitor” reveals that consumers’ more robust view of their personal finances versus the economy is helping drive their sustained spending. Over the next six months, 45% of consumers expect their personal finances to get better versus only 25% for economic conditions overall. In addition, most consumers seem fairly confident in managing their budgets with 55% expecting to have money left over after paying all of their bills, and the vast majority of these consumers expecting to have the same or more money left over as the previous month. The Discover index polls 15,000 adult consumers monthly.

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BEA Offers One Stop Consolidation

The Bank of East Asia has introduced “The Plan”, a “one-stop” debt
consolidation plan. Allowing consolidation loans of up to HK$1,000,000,
The Bank of East Asia is offering promotions including $100 grocery
store coupon and personalized interest rates for successful applicants.
Furthermore, “The Plan” requires a 1% arrangement fee, regardless of the
length of the loan repayment period.

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Merchant Lynx Deploys Amcat Contact Suite

Merchant Lynx has chosen Amcat to provide an integrated call center and customer acquisition system for its customer contact center. Amcat’s “Contact Center Suite” will be the focal point of an integrated and highly coordinated customer acquisition and sales processing system. The Amcat system’s centralized database along with its web-based appointment scheduler and automated outbound contact system provide a complete seamless appointment setting and customer acquisition process. Amcat is a provider of customer interaction management solutions. Merchant Lynx is a national leader in credit card processing services.

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Handelsbanken Offers Card Personalization

For the bank’s VISA and Mastercards, Handelsbanken will be allowing
customers to decide on display images of their choice, the first bank in
Sweden to do so. Images to choose from include those from the bank’s
gallery or the customers own, digital photograph images. This customer
option is currently available in Norway and soon to be in Denmark. The
service is being launched for the “Allkort MasterCard” and
“Allkort VISA” cards.

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SAF-T-PAY Expands its Advisory Board

FL-based SAF-T-PAY has named Victor Nappe of Stored Value Consulting as a new member of its advisory board. Nappe, will be focusing on bridging the gap between SAF-T-PAY’s financial relationships with leading Latin American and European banks and top-tier US merchants seeking to increase their global e-commerce reach. He will be using his experience to establish relationships with top-tier click-and-mortar e-merchants while also developing a mobile e-commerce platform for SAF-T-PAY. E-merchants will be given the opportunity to expand their market reach through SAF-T-PAY to the millions of online banking customers in Latin America who previously had no viable financial mechanism for shopping in the US e-commerce marketplace. Nappe founded DuoCash, the world’s first payments processing and clearing network to enable internet purchases through the use of prepaid calling cards. SAF-T-PAY is a secure e-payment system that allows all online bank customers to make online purchases worldwide directly through their local bank.

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APACS Advises Overseas Travelers

APACS, aside from ensuring that using plastic is the best method of
making purchases while traveling abroad, also provides additional
consumer guidance. In a report, the consumer company also advises
travelers only take cards intended to use on holiday, consider letting
the bank know in advance of traveling, ensure access to the 24-hour
contact phone numbers for the cards taken, treat cards and traveler’s
checks as valuables. Other advice provided includes, to avoid
pickpockets, wear a concealed money belt to hold funds, shielding PIN
with your free hand when typing into a keypad, guard your card and card
details at all times and, upon returning, check card statements
carefully for unfamiliar transactions.

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VISA Launches a Consumer Travel Wizard

VISA USA has introduced an online “Summer Travel Budgeting Center” which features a free, Web-based budget calculator called the “Travel Wizard.” VISA also released a survey showing that American cardholders are planning on spending an average of $1,654 on their summer vacation. VISA found that 15% of respondents won’t be taking a summer vacation this year while 4% said they would be sending over $5,000 on their summer vacation. The “Summer Travel Budgeting Center” and “Travel Wizard” are part of VISA’s financial education program, “Practical Money Skills for Life.”

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