Banks To Disclose More Consumer Information

The Reserve Bank of India has mandated that financial institutions
disclose fees and other details to customers as a means to check hidden
costs and provide a clearer picture of the service provided. Responses
to applications for loans and credit cards also should provide details
in the event that the consumers request is not granted. Those
institutions that are unable to meet the April 1st deadline are required
to inform RBI as to when they plan to do so.

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Macon Missouri Bank Joins STAR Network

Macon-Atlanta State Bank has signed an agreement with First Data to provide “STAR Network” access for its debit cardholders and as its primary ATM network. Additionally, the bank is adopting First Data’s fraud prevention and “Card Value Validation” services for its PIN-secured debit transactions. Macon-Atlanta State Bank was one of the first financial institutions in Missouri to offer debit cards to its customers. The STAR Network connects Macon-Atlanta State Bank’s cardholders with account access at approximately 2 million ATM and retail locations. There are approximately 158 million cards carrying the STAR logo.

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Bearskin Airlines Joins UATP Travel Payment Network

Bearskin Airlines has chosen UATP to address needs of corporate
travelers, initiating the company as part of the UATP global corporate
travel payment network. This network is issued by 13 airlines and
accepted worldwide. In selecting UATP, Bearskin is responding to
clients’ requests for allowing for wider acceptance. Bearskin has also
chosen to participate in the frequent flyer program, Aeroplan. Aeroplan
miles can be earned and redeemed to over 700 destinations in more than
120 countries. UATP accounts are issued by 15 member airlines and
accepted as a form of payment for corporate business travel by more than
200 airlines worldwide.

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Cards Account for 16% of Small Biz Payments

A new study has found that payments are a critical issue for businesses with annual revenues under $5 million. Checks account for 40% of customer payments to small businesses, while cash accounts for 25%, credit cards account for 16% and PayPal accounts for nine percent. (The receipt of PayPal payments was driven by small businesses that sell over the Internet.) Boston-based consulting group Dove Consulting also found that 88% of all small businesses accept both cash and checks and 54% accept credit cards and signature debit cards. Nearly a quarter of all small businesses surveyed reported using a debit card to make payments for their business. However, debit only accounts for five percent of small business payments. The study concludes that banks and payment processors need to deepen customer relationships with specific services for the small business sector.

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Card Debt and Volume Rise 14% in January

Credit card debt made its seasonal dip in January after peaking in December as credit card volume eased back too, following the holiday shopping season. However, credit card debt is up 14.6% and charge volume is running 13.8% higher than January 2006. Also, credit card limits reached a new high at A$104.7 billion, marking the fifth consecutive month of A$100+ billion. Card volume was A$15.7 billion during January, compared to a previous record of A$17.1 billion set in December, according to the Reserve Bank of Australia. For January, credit card balances decreased about A$0.6 billion from the previous month. One-year ago credit card debt stood at A$33.5 billion. Gross dollar volume on credit card and charge cards was A$13.8 billion for January 2006. There are currently 13.3 million credit card and charge card accounts in Australia, compared to 12.6 million one-year ago.

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Net Cash to Access Cardinal Centinel Platform

Online payment solution provider Net Cash announced it can now be enabled through the Cardinal Centinel platform. Online merchants can accept payment from consumers using “NetCash” for either one-time or recurring payments, to purchase physical goods or access to online content or services or to facilitate micro-payments. “NetCash” is a user-friendly online payment solution that allows consumers to make purchases anonymously, securely, and conveniently and addresses the growing number of consumers who have concerns about their online security and privacy. Consumers can purchase “NetCash” online using a credit card or offline with cash at over 52,000 retail locations. CardinalCommerce is a provider of authentication services for banks, merchants, processors and financial service providers.

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i2c Hires a Former Coinstar Executive

i2c inc. has hired Justin Corum, formally of Coinstar, as an Account Advocate to manage its global accounts. While with Coinstar, Corum served as an Account Manager in Processor Relations. Prior to this, he worked for TelSouth Communications for over 5 years, providing consumers with prepaid long distance, wireless, and debit solutions. i2c is a global technology provider of electronic payment processing solutions.

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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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