Allpoint Surcharge-Free Network Expands in AZ

Cardtronics’ Allpoint surcharge-free ATM network has signed nine Arizona credit unions. Allpoint provides the group of Arizona credit unions more than 400 surcharge-free ATMs across Arizona located at convenient retailers such as Target and Costco. Allpoint, a division of Cardtronics, is America’s Largest Surcharge-Free ATM Network, with 32,000 ATMs in leading national and regional merchant locations across the country. Arizona Federal was established on October 23, 1936 when a small group of City of Phoenix employees pooled their resources to form Phoenix City Employees Federal Credit Union.

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Metavante to Deploy Egenera’s BladeFrame

Metavante has deployed the Egenera “BladeFrame” system within its healthcare payments division to support healthcare account enrollment/opening, account processing and its proprietary benefit debit card application and platform. By transforming 80 percent of physical legacy-server components into software, the Egenera system enables datacenter virtualization, wherein processing, networking and storage resources are pooled and allocated to applications based on immediate business requirements. Metavante Healthcare Payment Solutions is using this unique architecture, referred to by Egenera as a Processing Area Network (PAN), to accommodate demand spikes, implement N+1 high availability, improve performance and simplify management. Egenera is a global leader in delivering enterprise-computing solutions that simplify datacenter operations and infrastructure.

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Travel Tags Intros eyeTwist for Gift Cards

MN-based Travel Tags has launched the eyeTwist Web site to sell small and medium-sized gift card orders. eyeTwist’s offering will meet customer needs through competitively priced products with a quick turn-time. The initial launch of eyeTwist includes four products: gift cards, loyalty cards, postcards and luggage tags in quantities ranging from 250 to 10,000. Travel Tags, with 30 years of plastic printing experience, is headquartered in Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota.

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Teenagers Embrace Self Checkout & Biometrics

A new study shows that 59% of teenagers want little or no staff involvement in their shopping experience and that 66% would like to self-scan their purchases rather than wait in line to pay a checkout assistant. The report released by EDS and the Institute of Grocery Distribution, also found that 48% of teenagers looking for human interaction would like call buttons in aisles so they can call for staff to help them in their product selection. Of those who want little or no staff involvement: 26% want automated shopping carts that direct them to their chosen items with 16% calling for satellite navigation on shopping carts and 22% would like to see information terminals throughout the store. Teenagers still favor paying with credit and debit cards, but many say that in future, they would like to use biometrics — fingerprint (17%) and iris recognition (7%) — to purchase groceries.

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Card Rewards to Fade with Reduced Interchange

A new report suggests that the landscape of the $150 billion card industry could be altered drastically in the next three to five years and end up costing issuing banks and card associations billions. The analysis also found that reward programs account for as much as 44% of interchange costs and such programs drive consumers to payment choices that are the most expensive for merchants. The research by Diamond Management & Technology Consultants says that once transparency comes to credit card pricing models, merchants will use the information to force an unbundling of interchange fee structures, and the interchange structure as we know it will disappear. Diamond says ACH payments will siphon payment volumes away from credit cards and emerging competitors like Pay By Touch, PayPal, and Google Payments will pose a genuine threat to dominant card operations. The report concludes that adjusting business models by unbundling the interchange components and charging directly for value delivered will enable issuing banks to develop new consumer card pricing models.

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MEI Acceptors Integrated into Pay E Mail Kiosks

PA-based MEI announced that the newly-deployed “Pay E Mail Internet” kiosks will utilize MEI Series “2000 Combo Acceptors” to let users pay with cash, credit or debit cards. Pay E Mail kiosks are vandal-resistant, constructed of heavy-duty steel and aluminum, and have a 15-inch flat screen and full-sized keyboard with a trackball mouse. The unit’s slim design severely restricted the available space for internal components, and so an all-in-one credit card reader/bill acceptor was an ideal choice. Pay E Mail, based in Cary, North Carolina, was developed by vending business professionals with 30-plus years of nationwide experience in the pay-phone and ATM vending business. MEI solutions are relied upon for more than 1 billion transactions per week in 90 countries.

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TNB Card Services Lands a NM FCU Portfolio

NM-based White Sands Federal Credit Union has sold its card portfolio to Dallas-based TNB Card Services. White Sands Federal Credit Union, originally chartered in 1952, serves employees of the White Sands Missile Range and residents of Las Cruces, New Mexico. With more than 32,000 members and five branches, the credit union is the eighth largest in New Mexico. TNB Card Services, owned and directed by credit unions since 1976, provides electronic payments processing, as well as an agent issuing solution for credit unions nationwide.

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Card Manufacturing Excellence Awards Issued

The ICMA has announced this year’s winners of its “Elan Awards for Card Manufacturing Excellence.” The “Best Gift Card” was won by Perfect Plastic Printing for its “Best Buy Snowman Colorshift” card. PPP also won the “Best Secure Card” for its “Discover Fabric Embedded Card.” The “Best Non-Secure Card” winner was UV Color for its Target card with peppermint with scent and raised ink. The “Technical Achievement” winner was Travel Tags for its Target “Teachers Rule Wood Card.” Travel Tags also won the “Judges Choice” award for this card too. The “Best ID Card” award was won by CPI Card Group for the Police Department of Mexico’s “Policia Preventiva” card. The “People’s Choice” award was won by Jet for its Optimum “Chili’s Mother’s Day Gift Card.” NJ-based ICMA is a non-profit association comprised of plastic card manufacturers, personalizers and related industry participants, with more than 200 members globally.

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AmEx Launches a Ticket Protection Plan

American Express has introduced a new benefit to reimburse cardholders for the cost of tickets purchased due to a covered incident. The “Event Ticket Protection Plan” will reimburse cardholders if they cannot attend an event due to medical emergency, cancellation of the event, transportation accident or jury duty, subpoena, death or call to active military duty. The free benefit is available to consumer and business “Gold,” “Platinum” and “Centurion” cardholders. “Gold,” “OPEN Gold” and “Executive Business” cardholders are covered up to the maximum limit of $1,000 per eligible occurrence. “Platinum” and “OPEN Platinum” cardholders are covered up to the maximum limit of $2,000 per eligible occurrence. “Centurion” and “OPEN Centurion” cardholders are covered up to the maximum limit of $5,000 per eligible occurrence.

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Utix Group Renews Discover Network Deal

MA-based Utix Group, an issuer and processor of pre-paid sports and leisure experience tickets, announced it has renewed its agreement to issue and settle Utix prepaid experience tickets on the Discover Network. The Utix pre-paid experience ticket system operates as a magnetic strip payment process for one-time admission or access to sports, recreation, leisure or entertainment activities or events and was granted US Patent No. 7,066,383 entitled “System for Marketing Leisure Activity Services Through Pre-Paid Tickets” that represents the first issued, in a series of patent applications relating to unique “non-monetary” magnetic strip gift ticket. Discover Financial Services LLC, a business unit of Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS), operates the Discover Card with more than 50 million Cardmembers, and the Discover Network, with more than 4 million merchant and cash access locations. Utix issues its proprietary technology and co-branded prepaid experience products, including Golf, Bowling, Ski, Spa and Movie Tickets to the business-to-business industry and retail marketplace.

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Merchants Want Operating Rules Transparency

The Merchants Payments Coalition says the VISA and MasterCard recent decisions to publish interchange fees brings to light the need for further transparency. The MPC says the information shows a bewildering array of rates for different cards, merchants and types of transactions, which emphasizes the opacity of interchange. But, without the operating rules that govern how these fees are applied, the information is useless. The MPC also noted that VISA’s announcement last week inaccurately stated that merchants “do not pay interchange” but pay a merchant discount fee instead. The MPC says that in fact, interchange is a non-negotiable fee paid as part of the merchant discount fee, accounting for approximately 80% of the total merchant discount fee. VISA and MasterCard do offer merchants access to some of their operating rules.

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Struggling S1 Corp Searches for a New CEO

Atlanta-based SI Corporation announced this morning that its Chairman, Director, and CEO, James Mahan has retired. The announcement came as a Special Committee of its Board of Directors completed a review of strategic alternatives for the struggling firm. With Mahan’s departure the Company announced that Director John Spiegel has been elected Chairman and that a search for a new CEO is underway. Mahan was named CEO in July 2005. He had originally served as CEO from 1995 to 2000 as the founder. The Company also announced that it is planning a “Dutch Auction” tender offer to purchase approximately 15% of its outstanding common stock to raise about $55 million.

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