Analysts believe that the proposed acquisition of First Data by KKR for $29 billion is surprising in its size, but not in its logic. NY-based TowerGroup says the largest questions gather around the U.S. issuer-side processing business and FDC’s extensive global network of acquisitions, joint ventures and alliances. Only time will tell how the latter are dealt with, governed or sold. The former, once the company’s crown jewel and now shrinking, could provide more than one network, bank or other payment processor with a commanding position among tier two credit card issuers. Boston-based Celent says FDC has been a prime acquisition target for sometime, particularly for large private equity firms attracted to its low growth, yet steady annuity stream. Over the past two years, First Data has been in the unenviable position of releasing its most profitable operation, Western Union, in a spin-off, contending with slowing domestic transaction growth as large card issuers take their operations in house and navigating the global payments landscape without a CEO successor. Under the FDC/KKR deal, First Data has 50 days to shop for a better deal.Details
Ingenico has signed agreements with Svobodnaya Kassa for 17,000
electronic payment terminals allowing customers to reload cell phones
online. Ingenico’s presence in Russia over the past 11 years has seen a
growing population driving demand for this market, currently offering only 1
terminal for every 1,000 citizens. In contrast, Western countries, on
have 1 terminal for every 75 citizens. Svobodnaya Kassa processes
payments for 112 operators today and plans to implement this solution using
Ingenico “i7910 terminals” over the next year, into the beginning of 2008.
MasterCard has launched a trial of a new service that allows MasterCard cardholders to use their mobile phones to access information on ATM and merchant locations, driving directions, rewards, special offers, etc. The new “MasterCard Nearby” service was developed in partnership with the go2 network. It is an opt-in program, accessible from any compatible Web-enabled mobile phone. Consumers access the Web site and create a unique user profile. Consumers have the ability to search for ATMs and merchant locations in the U.S. as well as ATMs in several countries, including Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and the U.K. Once consumers log into the WAP (mobile web) site at wap.mcnearby.com for the first time, they are permanently logged into the service. Another MasterCard-driven mobile initiative is point-of-sale payments by phone. Recently, MasterCard has undertaken several trials of “MasterCard PayPass”-enabled mobile phones.Details
SmartPay and China Unicom have announced a partnership for the
of electronic payment services including SMS, web, IVR based top-up
and “Agent Toll Stations”, in a trial phase since June of 2005. These
using SmartPay’s mobile technology, will consist of a network of retail
sales points. This will allow agents to add money to any Unicom user’s
using SmartPay’s technology and bank relationships. SmartPay provides a
mobile payment services throughout China.
Discover has renamed two of its most popular credit cards. The “Discover Platinum Card” is now the “Discover More Card” and and the “Discover Gas Card” is now the “Discover Open Road Card.” The redesigned cards offer different rewards accelerators. The “Discover More Card” offers the “Cashback Bonus” program plus the “5% Cashback Bonus Get More” program, which allows cardholders to earn more rewards in popular categories that change four times a year like gas, travel, home, apparel, restaurants, movies and more. The “Discover Open Road Card” carries the same core benefits plus cardholders receive a full “5% Cashback Bonus” on their first $1,200 in annual gas and auto maintenance purchases and up to 1% unlimited “Cashback Bonus” on all other purchases. Both cards remain annual fee free.Details
The Commerce Commission, composed of seven retailers, has dropped
allegations against HSBC for price fixing and credit card interchange fees.
These are fees charged by credit card companies to retailers as part of
they pay to banks that result in higher retail prices. Proceedings
bank were initiated in November, however the Commission recently agreed
with the banks’ claim that it had limited involvement and released the
of the allegations, seeking no financial penalty. The seven retailers
the Commission include Foodstuffs and Progressive Enterprises plus Dick
Smith Electronics, Farmers, Noel Leeming, Whitcoulls and Mississippi.
The Commerce Act provides for penalties for price-fixing of up to $NZ10
million ($A8.89 million) per breach, three times the commercial gain
resulting from the breach, or 10 per cent of a company’s turnover.
A recent survey commissioned by the Network Branded Prepaid Card Association found that 81% of consumers with prepaid health care cards were far more satisfied with being able to pay for eligible health care expenses from their flexible spending account (FSA). An FSA is an IRS-approved employee benefit provided by an employer. It allows employees to set aside part of their pre-tax wages to pay for eligible medical expenses not covered by insurance such as co-payments, eyeglasses and dental care. Prepaid health care cards carry a major brand logo (American Express, Discover, MasterCard or VISA). The funds are automatically deducted from the FSA and paid to the health care provider or store. The NBPCA is a non-profit, inter-industry trade association created in 2005 to advance the success of network branded prepaid cards.Details
Innova Card’s USIP platform solution has been given EMV Level 1
type approval by T-Systems. T-Systems has given the solution a rating
certifying it to meet the requirements needed to comply with PCI PED
security standards. In doing so, Innova offers debugging and support
customers who seek easy design and are concerned with quickly
receiving the EMV Level 1 Type Approval of their terminals. The company
also offers software development tools, security, and professional
services for PCI
PED and EMV certifications.
Bank of America is launching its first full season of the “MLB Extra Bases” credit card program. Under the program, cardholders can redeem rewards points for tickets to regular season games as well as Major League Baseball “Jewel Events” including the “2007 All-Star Game” and 2007 post-season games, VIP all-access tours of select ballparks or a spectrum of unique rewards that only MLB and its 30 Clubs can deliver, many of which are exclusive to this program. Cardholders can choose a card design bearing the Major League Baseball silhouetted batter or the logo of their favorite Club. Each time they use their card, fans earn one point for every net retail dollar spent. BofA has national sponsorship agreements with the Major League Baseball, Minor League Baseball, Little League Baseball and Softball and the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. The “MLB Extra Bases MasterCard” was launched in conjunction with the “2006 All-Star Week” in Pittsburgh last summer. (CF Library 7/10/06)Details
Citibank has joined the mobile banking speed train with the launch of an m-banking application that can be quickly downloaded onto cell phones. The new “Citi Mobile” service is compatible with more than 100 popular mobile devices including the “Blackberry,” across major U.S. wireless carriers. “Citi Mobile” is scheduled to launch in California this week and by mid-year, all Citibank clients will be able to enroll in the service. Later this year, a Spanish language version of “Citi Mobile” will be released. Under the program Citi clients will be able to sign up online and in the near future via Citibank branches and by phone. Once enrolled, one click is all it takes to download “Citi Mobile”-a small application that takes just a minute or two to install. Once installed, clients simply select the Citi icon on their phone to access their accounts. The new service offers access to real-time balances; account activity; bill payment; payment scheduling; money transfers; ATM locations; and a contact mechanism to reach bank reps. In the U.K., Citi recently purchased Egg Banking and launched a Vodafone-branded mobile-based international money transfer service.Details
Plastag Holdings has reached an agreement to merge with Minneapolis/St.Paul-based UV Color, a manufacturer of gift cards, prepaid phone cards, secured card packaging, and collectible, trading and game cards. The consolidated organization will operate under the Plastag Holdings, LLC name. Dan Frederickson, UV Color’s current CEO, will lead the combined entity, serving as CEO of Plastag Holdings. Plastag is a manufacturer of printed plastic products.Details
NJ-based First Financial FCU has moved its credit card processing to TNB Card Services. First Financial has converted some 5,400 cardholder accounts to TNB. First Financial FCU has 34,000 members and more than $180 million in assets. TNB Card Services provides electronic payments processing as well as an agent issuing solution for credit unions nationwide.Details