PPI Offers a Free MS Dynamics RMS Solution

San Diego-based Payment Processing has released a comprehensive integrated payments solution for Microsoft “Dynamics RMS.” The “PPI Microsoft Dynamics RMS” solution provides cutting-edge technology that streamlines merchant operations, customer set-up and ongoing 24/7/365 technical and administrative support, recurring revenue sharing and additional product revenue for resellers and marketing tools and support. PPI also chose Hypercom’s “SmartPayments” technology. This product provides the ability to accept and process credit cards, debit cards, EBT and gift cards, lower rates with improved fraud protection using Address Verification, Card Verification and purchase card level II support and support for customer facing multi-lane terminals with signature capture. Payment Processing provides integrated payment solutions and processed over $3 billion in VISA and MasterCard payments in 2006.

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U.S. Companies Gear-Up for More Travel Spend

New research has found that no fewer than 61% of American companies expect their employees to increase their travel. This is a higher figure than any other country that participated in the AirPlus International survey and is up from 51% last year. More U.S. companies have policies covering all areas of travel than any other country – 87%, up from 73% in 2006. Policy is important for U.S. companies because of the ability to limit spend and attract negotiated deals. AirPlus International this week launched the U.S. version of its “Global Travel Management Study.” AirPlus is the world’s largest issuer of UATP.

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Feb Stock Shock Impacts Consumer Confidence

The recent correction in the stock market, escalating mortgage defaults and stagnant home values may all be contributing factors to weakening consumer confidence. A monthly national survey of consumer attitudes on the current and future state of local economies, personal finance situations, savings and confidence to make large investments dropped nearly 11 points this month. The “RBC CASH Index” declined to 92.3 for March, after topping 100 for the first time in February. Nevertheless, RBC Financial Group says consumer confidence still remains relatively high by historical standards. RBC believes consumer confidence and the economy will soften in the next few months but then regain steam in the second half of 2007. Consumer expectations regarding personal financial situations remained statistically unchanged in March, with 39% saying they expected improvements in personal financial strength six months from now, compared to 36% in February.

RBC INDEX HISTORICAL
Mar 06: 86.2
Apr 06: 89.4
May 06: 67.1
Jun 06: 84.1
Jul 06: 80.1
Aug 06: 74.8
Sep 06: 93.7
Oct 06: 83.1
Nov 06: 92.4
Dec 06: 86.9
Jan 07: 95.3
Feb 07: 103.0
Mar 07: 92.3
Source: RBC Financial Group

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Blackstone Acquires a Prepaid Specialist

Miami-based card processor and prepaid card provider Blackstone has acquired the assets of prepaid specialist IPrepay which has 200,000 retail points of sale. The acquisition will expand the products and services offered by IPrepay, Inc. to include the entire Blackstone suite of patented technologies that includes phone cards, wireless recharge cards, mobile content products, prepaid handsets, bill payment processing, credit & debit card merchant services processing, gift card/stored value card reloads, web services and international hosting solutions.

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Check Fraud Still Dogs Nearly All Businesses

A new survey has found that 93% of organizations have been victims of attempted check fraud. Other payment methods targeted for fraud include: ACH debit fraud (35%); consumer credit card fraud (17%) and corporate card fraud (14%). The study, released by the Association for Financial Professionals, found that 86% of survey respondents report that their organizations had adopted positive pay services prior to 2006 to protect against check fraud. Almost two-thirds of the victims of attempted or actual check fraud reported that the fraud involved altered payee names on the checks they issued. AFP also discovered that half of organizations that were financially responsible for ACH fraud losses in 2006 did not use ACH debit blocks or filters and another 22% failed to reconcile their accounts or return fraudulent ACH debits on a timely basis.

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New Card Laws May Not Lower ABS Ratings

Concerns are surfacing as to the impact on credit card-backed securities if Congress passes laws to ban certain credit card practices. However, Fitch Ratings says that even though some changes may reduce yield and squeeze excess spread in some U.S. credit card ABS securitizations, it is unlikely that more stringent requirements will have a direct adverse effect on collateral or transaction performance. Whether or not required to by law, Fitch believes that U.S. credit card ABS issuers will likely stop charging over the credit limit fees and eliminate some interest rate increases. But, it is unlikely these changes will cause any negative rating actions due to generally stable performance and sufficient enhancement to absorb losses.

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Debit-Credit Transaction Gap Hits New Record

The gap between VISA and MasterCard debit card and credit card U.S. purchase transactions widened to a new record during the fourth quarter, topping one billion. During the final quarter of 2006, there were a total of 8.35 billion purchase transactions with debit cards making up 56% of the total. In 2005, VISA and MasterCard debit card purchase transactions first surpassed credit card purchase transactions on a full-year basis, 13.7 billion versus 13.5 billion, respectively. According to CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]), U.S. debit card purchase transactions hit 4687 million for 4Q/06, compared to 3657 million for 4Q/05. U.S. credit card purchase transactions rose from 3766 million for 4Q/05 to 3667 million for 4Q/06.

U.S. PURCHASE TRANSACTIONS
(in millions)
Period Debit Credit
1Q/05: 3132 2974
2Q/05: 3518 3329
3Q/05: 3501 3497
4Q/05: 3657 3766
1Q/06: 3741 3290
2Q/06: 4362 3383
3Q/06: 4487 3405
4Q/06: 4687 3667
Source: CardData (www.carddata.com)

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

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TNB to Credit/Debit Process for LA DOTD FCU

LA DOTD FCU of Louisiana has moved all of its credit card and debit card processing to Dallas-based TNB Card Services. The conversion covers 4,000 credit cards and 5,400 debit cards. LA DOTD Federal Credit Union has 15,500 members and assets of $85 million and serves the financial needs of the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development employees and their families.

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House Democrats Target Minimum Payments

A group of nine U.S. Congressman yesterday introduced a bill requiring credit card issuers to fully disclose the impact of making minimum payments. The bill, titled the “Credit Card Repayment Act of 2007” was introduced by North Carolina Democratic Rep. David Price along with eight fellow Democrats. Under the Price bill, credit card companies would have to clearly outline the full cost of the minimum payment on a cardholder’s monthly statement and offer cardholders tools to help them pay off their debt. Specifically, the legislation would require companies to include a warning that making only the minimum monthly payment would increase the amount of interest paid; information on how long it would take and how much it would cost to pay off his/her entire balance if making only the minimum monthly payment; information on how much the consumer would have to pay per month if he/she wanted to pay off the balance in three years; and, a toll-free number that consumers could call for credit counseling.

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TransUnion Acquires it Entire Database

Chicago-based TransUnion reports it has acquired the last independently owned segment of its consumer credit reporting database. The Company, founded in 1968, says the acquisition makes its the first and only national credit reporting company to own its entire credit database, giving it total control over the quality, quantity and types of data housed in its system. The TransUnion database was the first online information storage and retrieval data-processing system to serve credit grantors nationwide. TransUnion employs more than 4,000 employees in more than 30 countries on six continents.

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Citi to Market AmEx Gift Cards

American Express has nailed its first gift card deal with a national bank. Citibank has agreed to sell the “American Express Gift Card” in more than 980 of its Financial Centers nationwide. The new cards will bear both the AmEx and Citi logos. AmEx launched its gift card product in 2002 and says it sold more “Gift Cards” last year than all previous years combined. The card is available in denominations ranging from $25 to $500 and is replaceable if lost or stolen for a fee. However, the card cannot be used at car rentals, cruise lines, casinos or ATMs. Citi recently announced the acquisition of prepaid market leader PA-based Ecount. Privately-held Ecount serves a base of more than 1,200 corporate clients across North America with paperless payment solutions including prepaid card solutions. In December, AmEx and eFunds inked a global, multi-year partnership wherein eFunds will provide processing services for the entire AmEx portfolio of prepaid cards. In November, AmEx has jazzed-up its gift card program, now offering extras at 20 retailers, restaurants and other partners, such as a free dessert, two games of bowling for the price of one, or 5% to 20% off the purchase of merchandise. (CF Library 11/29/06; 12/6/06; 3/2/07)

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Online Customer Interaction Improves

New Web site research reveals that Capital One ranked as the #1 site in online customer experience, Discover ranked the #1 site for online prospective customers/acquisitions and U.S. Bank ranked as #1 in online service levels. Bank of America was ranked second overall in the prospects study, and was the second most successful company in the acquisition category. The findings come from two studies conducted by Keynote Competitive Research involving more than 1,600 credit card customers interacting with nine leading credit card Web sites. Each of the studies captures more than 250+ metrics for each site-and provides competitive rankings in dozens of categories. Keynote also found that National City topped the rankings for reliability in the “Service Level Rankings for Credit Card Prospects,” which focused on the publicly available areas of the credit card sites. Keynote noted that credit card sites continue to improve year over year with reductions in outages, improvements in overall availability and load handling. However, several major credit card brands experienced major problems, such as 20 plus hours of outage and up to a 4% failure rate (customers unable to access their statement or pay a bill online) during the 30 day study of service levels. Keynote noted that credit card sites continue to improve year over year with reductions in outages, improvements in overall availability and load handling. However, several major credit card brands experienced major problems, such as 20 plus hours of outage and up to a 4% failure rate (customers unable to access their statement or pay a bill online) during the 30 day study of service levels.

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