REWARD CARDS

A new survey has found that 83% of credit cardholders in
London have a rewards program attached to their card. The most popular
are retail rewards cards (47%) followed by cash back (19%) and travel
rewards (17%). The survey by Goldfish also found that between November
and January about 39% of Londoners redeemed an average of GBP 349 on
their credit cards, in the form of retail vouchers, cash back and travel
rewards. Women are slightly more likely to hold a rewards based credit
card than men (78% vs. 75%) however, men redeemed two-thirds more over
the past three months (GBP 178 vs. GBP 101). Cardholders aged between 30
and 50 redeemed the most over the past three months, gaining GBP 187
compared to GBP 148 redeemed by under 30s and GBP 89 by the over 50s.
The survey involved about 2,000 cardholders.

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Major Consumer Groups to Promote Maxed Out

Several national consumer groups have come together to form Americans for Fairness in Lending. The new organization is today launching a national campaign that includes print, radio and an interactive Web site. The campaign will coincide with the release of the documentary and book “Maxed Out,” by author/filmmaker James Scurlock. The campaign will call for concrete reforms in lending such as caps on interest rates and binding contract terms. AFFIL includes ACORN, Center for American Progress, Consumer Federation of America, Consumers Union, NAACP, National Consumer Law Center, National Council of La Raza, UAW, and U.S. PIRG, among others. Funding for the AFFIL campaign is provided by the Ford Foundation and Annie E. Casey Foundation.

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GOL Expands Payment Options

Brazilian airline, GOL Linhas Aereas Inteligentes, has announced the
expansion of payment methods for tickets purchased online. Internet
customers are now able to pay using debit cards or bank transfers. This
service is valuable for customers with limited funds or no credit card.
For those purchasing tickets with a credit card, GOL allows customers to
parcel payments up to 12 months. These customers can pay for tickets up
to six months interest free, with a minimum monthly payment of R$45, or
up to twelve months with interest and a minimum monthly payment of R$10.
Also, for customers requiring longer payment terms, GOL offers the “Fly
Easy” (Voe Facil) program, allowing customers to pay for airline tickets
over a period of up to 36 months. To date, the program has enrolled
approximately 700,000 customers.

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CO-OP Adds a National Relationship Manager

CO-OP Financial Services has named Mary Nyman as National Relationship Manager with initial responsibilities for the Pacific Northwest. Nyman more than 25 years experience in the EFT industry and will focus on growth and member retention in Washington State and Oregon and provide technical, product and client support for its growing member base. Oregon and Washington State have 136 credit unions. CO-OP Financial Services is the nation’s largest credit union service organization with nearly 2,000 credit union members, more than 25,000 surcharge-free ATMs (including 6,000 deposit-taking), 120 million-plus monthly transactions and 24 million cardholders.

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Freestar Deploys 1500 Hypercom POS Units

FreeStar has announced that its subsidiary, Rahaxi Processing Oy, has
placed an order for 1,500 Hypercom “Optimum” POS Terminals
and pin-pads. Rahaxi Processing has sold Hypercom “Optimum” products since
the fall of 2006. The Finnish markets have a growing need for
international standard products and services Hypercom
offers. Hypercom solutions enable businesses in more than 100
countries to securely expand revenue and profit using global payment
technology. FreeStar Technology provides mission-critical
solutions to the financial industry worldwide.

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U.K.’s Argos Implements VF’s PAYware Merchant

VeriFone Holdings has installed its “PAYware Merchant” system to more than 600 Argos stores in the UK, enabling Argos to process 50 transactions per second, more than 100 million transactions every year. “PAYware Merchant” accepts all major cards and supports the latest fraud prevention initiatives, including EMV and 3D Secure for Internet payments and supports EMV Chip and PIN. VeriFone Holdings provides secure electronic payment solutions. Argos is a merchandise retailer with sales of over GBP 3.5 billion.

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Cashless Payments Are Growing In Popularity

Sagem Orga has conducted a study revealing that 73% of German citizens
agreed that credit cards or EC cards are needed when traveling. Among
those over 60, 94% said that they use cashless payments when traveling
and they provide a “sense of security”. No more than 60% of young
people between 14 and 19 said that their card was indispensable. The
figure for those between 20 and 25 was 65%, for 26 to 30 was 72%, and
for 31 to 40 was 88%. However, to carry credit and EC cards is most
popular among people in the 41 to 50 age group: 98%. The Paderborn-based
smart card vendor Sagem Orga produced 38 percent more smart
cards last year than in 2005, reflecting the findings of the study.

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TNB Card Services Adds 6,000 Card Accounts

NJ-based FAA Eastern Region Federal Credit Union has sold its $16 million credit card portfolio to TNB Card Services. The transaction adds more than 6,000 card accounts to TNB’s portfolio. TNB’s issuing program and partnership approach will use the credit card product as a method to fuel growth of FAA’s membership. The partnership will increase member retention and provide revenue sharing opportunities for FAA. FAA Eastern Region FCU, with $177 million in assets, serves more than 22,000 members through seven branches in New Jersey, New York, Virginia, and New Hampshire. TNB owns more than 100 credit union card portfolios, the largest ownership of credit union card accounts by a credit union owned entity.

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Citi Completes Acquisition of GFU

Citi has announced the acquisition of Grupo Financiero Uno. This
will expand the company’s Latin America presence through incorporation
of 75 branches, and more than 100 kiosks and points of sale. Citi has
also named Edgardo del Rincon Gutierrez as CEO of Grupo Financiero Uno
in Central America. He was promoted from the GFU integration team
director and was previously the General Director of Credito Familiar for
Banamex. Citi is present in 24 countries of Latin America and Mexico and
operates more than 2,100 branches that offer financial services.
Throughout this market, services are provided to 13,000 corporate
customers, 17 million consumer banking customers and nine million
cardholders. On a global scale, Citi has some 200 million customer
accounts and does business in more than 100 countries.

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eca$hier Lands a Mexican Kiosk Deal

TX-based eca$hier Systems announced its agreement with Consejo Empresarial Gasolinero Valle De Mexico, A.C. to deploy 2500 self-service multi-function financial kiosks in Mexico. The initial services provided by the kiosks are point-to-point money transfer services from the U.S. to Mexico, CEGA sponsored dispensing and reloading of a prepaid gasoline card, a Mexican Bank Branded prepaid debit card and ATM cash dispensing. Other functionalities soon to be added to the “eca$hier Financial Services Kiosk” are bill payments and collection, prepaid services, including long distance calling cards and cellular calling minutes, and other CEGA approved services.

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Fraud Prevention Month is Launched

It is estimated that retail organized crime costs Canadians $5 billion a
year. Credit card fraud in Canada resulted in losses of $201 million
to major credit cards companies, $70.4 million in debit card fraud, and 422,447
counterfeit bank notes were passed and seized in 2005. Furthermore,
container theft has been pegged at $20 billion worldwide. In response,
The Retail Council of Canada (RCC) will join Fraud Prevention Month.
Fraud Prevention Month has been created as a means of preventing
consumers across Canada from becoming victims of fraud by educating them
on the statistics and means of prevention. Throughout the month of March
the RCC will be educating consumers on these issues. The Council is a
not-for-profit organization representing more than 40,000 stores
of all retail formats.

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