Chase Intros a Rewards Card for Switcheroos

Chase is rolling-out a new rewards credit card that enables cardholders to seamlessly change between cash back and points. The new no annual fee “Chase Freedom” card offers rewards for all purchases, triple rewards on certain everyday purchases and no loss of cash or points when changing between rewards. The new card is also “blink”-enabled for contactless payments at more than 30,000 U.S. merchant locations. The card offers 1% cash-back on all purchases or one point for each $1 spent on the card. The card carries interest rates ranging from prime +5.99% to prime +14.99%, with a 0% APR on purchases for the first year. Chase is launching an integrated marketing and advertising campaign to support the new card featuring a remix of The Rolling Stones’ “I’m Free.” Earlier this year Chase and United Airlines launched the “Choices” program for its “Mileage Plus VISA” cardholders. The unique program offers enhanced redemption opportunities that goes beyond simple mileage redemption. (CF Library 5/1/06)

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Western Union Offers Spin-Off Guidance

Top executives of Western Union are hitting the road today to make presentations to the equity investment community in advance of its spin-off from First Data on September 29th. The Company said its expects 2006 revenue to be 11% to 12% above the prior year possibly hitting $4.5 billion. Excluding expenses related to its spin-off, operating income should fall between $1.32 billion and $1.34 billion. For 2007, Western Union expects revenue growth in the range of 10% to 12%, excluding acquisitions. In addition, the company expects operating income growth of 6% to 9%, excluding spin-off costs. The Company also noted that for the third quarter through September 14, the company’s overall consumer-to-consumer transactions grew 15% on a year-over-year basis. International transactions grew 23% for the same period.

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North American Bancard Pushes PayPass

Troy, MI-based North American Bancard is deploying 3,000 MasterCard “PayPass” acceptance devices to all NAB merchants, free of charge. The Vivotech devices are in stock and ready for national deployment to all new and existing customers. NAB calls it contactless devices “Tap-Here” devices. There are approximately 10 million “PayPass” cards and devices in the market and approximately 32,000 merchant locations around the world that accept “PayPass.” NAB is a registered MSP/ISO of HSBC Bank and has more than 50,000 clients.

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VISA and the Chamber Wrap Up Security Tour

At the final stop of a joint, 12-city data security tour VISA USA and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce indentified five major causes of data breaches. The five leading causes of card-related data breaches include storage of magnetic stripe data; missing or outdated security patches; use of vendor supplied default settings and passwords; SQL injection; and unnecessary and vulnerable services on servers. The Chamber is currently distributing the VISA security alert to its full membership of small and mid-sized businesses nationwide. VISA and the Chamber of Commerce began the 12-city nationwide town hall tour titled, “Securing Our Businesses, Protecting Our Customers” on June 26th. (CF Library 6/26/06)

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TRM Makes Some Executive and Board Changes

OR-based TRM announced that its president/CEO, Jeffrey Brotman, will become chairman; also Richard Stern has been hired as EVP/Corporate Operations and Ashley Dean has been promoted to EVP/ATM Business Operations The Company also announced that Tony C. Banks has been elected to serve on the board of directors. Mr. Banks is a Vice President of FirstEnergy Corporation, where he has been since 2004. TRM Corporation is a consumer services company that provides convenience ATM and photocopying services in high-traffic consumer environments.

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Guaranty Bank Expands its AmEx Cards

California and Texas banker, Guaranty Bank, is expanding its American Express card agent relationship with the addition of the co-branded “American Express Preferred Rewards Gold Card.” The charge card product has an annual fee of $125 that will be waived for the first year. The agreement expands an existing relationship between American Express and Guaranty. In October 2005, Guaranty introduced “My Checking” accounts offering “American Express Membership Rewards” as a feature of the program. In November, American Express and Guaranty introduced a co-branded “American Express Small Business Gold Card” and a “Platinum Business Cash Rebate Credit Card” for the bank’s small-business customers.

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Lucent Expands its PCI Services

NJ-based Lucent Technologies has expanded its portfolio of security offerings specifically targeting companies that accept or transmit credit card information after being certified by VISA PCI. The PCI standard is a single set of data security requirements developed by Visa and MasterCard in 2004 to protect consumer information worldwide. Lucent is one of a handful of companies approved as an assessor in multiple regions including the United States, Europe, Latin America and Asia. Lucent Technologies designs and delivers the systems, services and software that drive next-generation communications networks.

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Consumer Optimism to Spend Picks-Up

Consumer optimism has returned in the wake of falling gas prices while consumer pessimism has largely subsided in job security. The latest monthly consumer index for September hit 93.7 the second highest this year and a sharp increase from the prior month’s 74.8. The “RBC CASH Index” (Consumer Attitudes and Spending by Household), is a survey of consumer attitudes on the current and future state of local economies, personal finance situations, savings and confidence to make large investments. The “Index” is composed of four sub-indexes: “RBC Current Conditions Index;” “RBC Expectations Index;” “RBC Investment Index;” and, “RBC Jobs Index.” The “RBC Current Conditions Index” increased nearly 27 points, reaching 118.8 in September, compared to 92.1 last month. The “RBC Expectations Index,” which stood at 21.8 in August, increased to 39.4 this month. The “RBC Investment Index” increased nearly 27 points this month, reaching 110, compared to 83.2 in August. The “RBC Jobs Index for September” stands at 119.4, compared to 120.5 in August. The four-year old index is sponsored by RBC Financial Group.

RBC INDEX HISTORICAL
Jan 06: 85.5
Feb 06: 96.1
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
Source: RBC Financial Group

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Rainbow Rewards Selects CCG for CRM

Customer Communications Group has been selected for customer relationship marketing strategy and creative work by Rainbow Rewards, a cash-back credit/debit card coalition in Denver. CCG’s alliance with Rainbow Rewards will center on traditional direct mail efforts — creating a direct marketing program to encourage customers to actively use their debit and credit cards to earn cash-back rewards. Jen Sanning, chief marketing officer for Rainbow Rewards, said the program will utilize customer data management to fuel the direct marketing techniques. Rainbow Rewards is a coalition of Colorado businesses that believes in embracing loyal customers, while giving back to the local community. CCG is a full-service, customer marketing agency, bringing 30 years’ expertise in developing actionable, knowledge-driven marketing initiatives that attract, retain and grow profitable relationships for our Fortune 2000 clients.

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MC Names its Non-Executive Chairman

MasterCard continues to rebuild its Board after becoming a publicly traded company in May and changing its governance structure. Richard Haythornthwaite, managing director of Star Capital Partners in the Europe, will now serve as the non-executive chairman of its board. MasterCard also elected Steven Freiberg, chairman and CEO of Citigroup’s Global Consumer Group, and co-chair of Citigroup’s Global Consumer Group, as a director. Freiberg is one of the three directors elected by banks to the board. With the election of Mr. Freiberg, the MasterCard board now consists of 10 members: two Class M directors; seven Class A directors who are independent; and MasterCard President and CEO Robert Selander, also a Class A director. The independent directors include: Bernard S. Y. Fung who is Chairman and CEO of Aon Asia Pacific Region; Manoel Amorim of Brazil’s Telefonica International; David Carlucci of Connecticut-based IMS Health; Richard Haythornthwaite of the UK’s Star Capital Partners; Marc Olivie of Belgium’s Agfa-Gevaert Group; Mark Schwartz, formerly of Soros Fund Management; and Edward Suning Tian of China’s China Netcom Group. (CF Library 5/4/06; 6/16/06)

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Business Partners Raise Security Risk

A survey from Cybertrust found that nearly three quarters of organizations worldwide feel that business partners increase their levels of information security risk, and 13% of organizations have terminated a business partnership due to information security concerns. While organizations overwhelmingly agree with the need to monitor the security of their business partners, fewer than half actually assess partner security. The study demonstrated that those organizations that do conduct business partner security assessments experience a more than three-fold reduction in the likelihood of security incidents. Cybertrust is the global information security specialist, delivering services that secure critical data, protect identities and help customers demonstrate ongoing compliance.

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Capital One Opens its 5th Mascot Contest

Capital One has opened its polls for the fifth annual “Capital One All-America Mascot Team” to compete for college football’s “Mascot of the Year.” Fans will determine the winner. Online voting consists of 11 weekly head-to-head match-ups between the All-Americans. Then the six mascots with the best win/loss records will face-off in online playoffs starting in November. Capital One Financial Corporation (www.capitalone.com) is a holding company whose principal subsidiaries, Capital One Bank and Capital One FSB, offer consumer lending products.

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