Cellular South WirelessWallet Launches

Cellular South has launched the first-ever multi-city consumer trial of its “WirelessWallet” service in Memphis and Jackson, MS is also the first mobile wallet trial in the country to engage multiple retailers within a community. More than 75 Cellular South customer participants will test the technology at nearly 50 retail locations. The technology uses a handset from Kyocera Wireless. ViVOtech is providing the payment software that resides on the handset. Mpact is providing trial development and management services, reader deployment and NFC content and delivery services. USA Technologies is developing a contactless wireless reader designed for vending machines and other self-service point of sales applications. The wireless device acts as a digital credit card that allows Cellular South customers to make payments and purchases by simply tapping it against a NFC-enabled wireless reader. The company plans to complete the trial by August, with an anticipated widespread consumer roll-out in early 2008.

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Most Consumers Would Chuck Credit Cards

A new survey has found that 62% of consumers would give up their credit cards, as long as they could retain their debit card. The Greenfield Online poll as found that 14% of respondents indicated they have five or more credit cards. In addition, 18% of those who own five or more credit cards earn less than $25,000 per year. About 22% indicated they have two credit cards. A total of 27% of respondents either don’t have a credit at all or only possess a debit card. The survey involved about 1,000 consumers.

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FiSCA Signs-Up 63K for NetSpend Card

Financial Services Centers of America reports that more than 63,000 of its customers have opened savings accounts and deposited more than $35 million through the “NetSpend National Saving Program” which offers an interest-bearing, federally-insured savings account linked to a NetSpend prepaid VISA/MasterCard debit card. Through the National Savings Program, people can easily transfer money back and forth between their debit card and their savings account – at no cost. The savings account is FDIC-insured, and pays 3% interest – significantly higher than most banks or credit unions are offering today. There is no minimum balance requirement and no cost to open or maintain the savings account. The NetSpend National Savings Program is available to consumers exclusively through FiSCA-member locations where a wide array of other financial services are also available, such as check cashing, money transfers, money wiring and bill payment. FiSCA, founded in 1987, is the national trade association for more than 6,500 individual financial service centers across the United States. NetSpend Corporation is a provider of innovative, accessible prepaid debit cards that enable financial freedom and growth for self-banked consumers.

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HSBC to Pilot a CVS/Tempo Loyalty Card

HSBC Finance is gearing-up to pilot in Indianapolis the new “CVS ExtraCare Plus” loyalty rewards payment card that will also offer payment at more than 200,000 Tempo Payment Network merchant locations in the USA . The CVS ExtraCare® Plus card will provide CVS/pharmacy customers with a convenient and secure multipurpose rewards and payment solution that links the cardholder’s existing checking account to their existing ExtraCare account. The new CVS ExtraCare Plus card is the first card product offered under HSBC’s OptiPaysm loyalty rewards PIN-payment program. Through the Tempo Payment Network, HSBC’s OptiPaysm program offers retailers reduced checkout costs without having to make any point-of-sale changes; and offers consumers a greater choice of merchant-branded, affinity-based, PIN-secured payment options. HSBC card and retail services issues merchant-branded payment cards for premier retailers and manufacturers, and is among the largest issuers of credit cards in the United States. Tempo operates the Tempo Payment Network, a PIN-based bank-independent payment network.

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Charge-Offs Continue to Head North

Charge-offs continued to slide north, hitting 4.60% in April, the highest rate since February 2006. It is also the seventh consecutive monthly increase according to CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]). During the first quarter Chase reported a managed net charge-off rate of 3.57%, up from 2.99% in the prior year and 3.45% in the prior quarter. Citi’s charge-offs for bankcard and private label cards rose to 4.63% for 1Q/07 compared to 4.35% in the prior quarter and 3.90% one-year ago. BofA reported first quarter Card Services charge-offs of 4.81%, compared to 4.57% in the prior quarter and 3.07% one year ago. (CF Library 4/16/07; 4/18/07; 4/19/07)

CHARGE-OFFS
Nov 06: 4.19%
Dec 06: 4.24%
Jan 07: 4.33%
Feb 07: 4.39%
Mar 07: 4.44%
Apr 07: 4.60%
Source: CardData (www.carddata.com)

[1]: http://www.carddata.com

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UK Debit Cards to Overtake Cash by 2011

Since Barclays introduced the debit card in 1987, APACS reports that there are 41 million debit card holders in the U.K. today compared with 27.8 million in 1996. Also, there are 68 million debit cards currently in circulation, compared with just 19 million debit cards in 1990, and Britons made 4.5 billion purchases in 2006 and spent GBP 194.9 billion on their debit cards. Furthermore, in 2006, each debit card holder used it 166 times on average and by 2016, spending on debit cards will have doubled to over GBP400 billion. APACS also predicts that by 2011 personal spending on debit cards will have overtaken cash.

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Financial Services Ads Up 3% in Q1

TNS Media Intelligence released information indicating that the Top 10 advertising categories in the first quarter of 2007 spent an aggregate $16.74 billion, down 1.1 percent from a year ago and that budgets from stock brokerages and mutual funds more than offset reductions by credit card companies. Financial Services was the top category at $2.11 billion, an increase of 3.1 percent. Higher Direct Response had the largest percentage gain, up 11.3 percent to $1.70 billion. The category showed deep strength with higher ad spending levels by a broad range of brands. Telecommunications category spending dropped 7.6 percent to $2.10 billion. Travel & Tourism advertising fell 5.0 percent to $1.25 billion on widespread declines by cruise lines, airlines, hotels and online travel reservation services. TNS is a global market insight and information group.

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Consumer Groups Attack Card Fees

Consumers Union and the Consumer Federation of America have sent a letter to Bank of America asking the bank to simplify its fee structure, reduce fees, and eliminate fee-triggering practices, rather than merely improving disclosure. The consumer groups want credit card fees to be limited to the bank’s real cost associated with those services and to eliminate or reduce penalty fees, such as late fees for payments mailed on time or over-limit fees for transactions that were approved by the credit card issuer. CU and CFA also attacked bounced-check fees such as “big check first” policies and overdraft loans. The groups noted that overdraft loan fees charged by all banks now cost consumers $10.3 billion annually.

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GE Money and Yahoo! Telemundo Partner

GE Money and Yahoo! Telemundo have announced the launch of ‘Soluciones Financieras’, an online financial education solution that features comprehensive Spanish-language personal finance tools and information. ‘Soluciones Financieras’ features easy-to-digest information in four key areas of particular interest to U.S. Hispanics including: understanding and managing credit, preventing identity theft, navigating loans and mortgages, and establishing a personal budget. U.S. Hispanics are projected to spend over $926 billion this year 1; however, research shows they have less understanding and experience managing personal financial matters compared to the average non-Hispanic consumer. Only 51% of Hispanic households have a savings account. 43% of Hispanic workers described their personal knowledge of investing or saving for retirement as “knowing nothing” compared to 12 percent for all workers. 63% of online Spanish-preferring Hispanics feel more comfortable visiting Web sites that are Spanish-language and 55% of online Spanish-preferring Hispanics are more likely to trust companies that have Spanish-language Web sites. Yahoo! Telemundo yahootelemundo.com is a commercial venture between Telemundo Communications Group, Inc., a unit GE’s NBC Universal, and Yahoo! Inc.

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Phi Media to Power Triton ATM Content

ATM manufacturer Triton has selected Phi Media as a preferred content partner to provide digital content. The strategic partnership with PHI Media, a dynamic closed-circuit digital content provider on LCD screens and automated equipment across the U.S, will allow retailers to easily and inexpensively add advertising to their ATM networks. With Phi Media’s wireless LDC topper that easily attaches to all Triton ATMs, retailers are able to participate in Phi Media’s content management program. The program features full motion video, animation, news, weather forecasts, stock quotes and much more with advertising from local, regional and national advertisers. Triton is a global ATM manufacturer with more than 158,000 installations in 24 countries worldwide

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