Rewards Network & eScrip Offer a Bonus

Chicago-based Rewards Network and eScrip are offering diners a “September Back to School Bonus” with the support of 8,400 participating Rewards Network restaurants nationwide. Since 1999, eScrip has generated over $150 million in merchant contributions to support youth education. The program, headquartered in San Mateo, California, provides funds to over 35,000 schools and organizations with the largest numbers of supported groups in California, Arizona, and Maryland. Electronic Scrip Incorporated (ESI) is a California-based corporation dedicated to establishing relationships between commerce and community–to provide resources to organizations and projects that support children. Rewards Network is a leading provider of marketing services and loyalty programs to the restaurant industry.

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The Big Five Networks Form PCI Council

The top five payment card networks in the world have agreed to sit at the table to improve payment account security throughout the transaction process. American Express, Discover, JCB, MasterCard and VISA have formed an independent council to manage the the “Payment Card Industry” data security standard. The group of five says it is developing a system that is more accessible and efficient for merchants, processors, POS vendors and financial institutions. PCI Security Standards Council, LLC will develop and maintain a global, industry-wide technical data security standard for the protection of accountholder account information; provide a list of globally available, qualified security solution providers via its Web site to help the industry achieve compliance; and provide a transparent forum in which all stakeholders can provide input into the ongoing development, enhancement and dissemination of data security standards. The new council is inviting all parties with a role to play in securing payment account data to participate in the new organization.

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MC Unveils the World Elite MasterCard

MasterCard has taken its “World MasterCard” to a new level with the introduction of the “World Elite MasterCard.” The first card is being issued by HSBC on behalf of Saks Fifth Avenue. The “Saks Fifth Avenue World Elite MasterCard” will debut next week with applications available at all Saks Fifth Avenue locations in mid-October. The new card offers up to 6% back on Saks Fifth Avenue purchases and 1% back on all other purchases. Customers’ points will be converted automatically into Saks gift cards. The card also offers access to the Virtuoso travel network; complimentary companion tickets with the purchase of full fare “Business Class” tickets for international travel; tailored shore excursions and private cocktail receptions on four cruise lines; preferred rates at more than 650 hotels plus value-added amenities such as complimentary daily breakfast for two, room upgrades, late check-in, late check-out, hotel dining credits and customized offerings that are unique to the destination and VIP status; complimentary subscriptions to travel publications; special event access and tickets to performing arts and theater events; and airport lounge access for a nominal fee.

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Gateway Pricing Continues to Fall

A new research report found that the eCommerce arena continues to enjoy healthy growth and dramatic maturation. The report from The Strawhecker Group also says that gateway pricing continues to fall as merchants themselves improve their IT expertise and natural competition culls the priciest from the pack. Strawhecker notes there are so many more payment tools available off-the-shelf these days that merchants find it much easier to build an in-house solution, thereby cutting out the middle-man gateway. This aggressive stance by the merchants has driven gateways to carve their per-transaction pricing to thinner margins, just as large acquirers and processors have seen their margins reduced to slivers by the commoditization of transaction processing.

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Card Mail May Top 8 Billion This Year

A Chicago-based research firm says that consumers received nearly 4.2 billion direct mail credit card solicitations in the first six months of this year, compared to 3.9 billion for the same period one-year ago. American Express led the first half with a 20% jump in direct mail activity, primarily due to new card products. However, the top 10 company that experienced the biggest direct mail distribution increase, comparing the first half of 2005 to the same period this year, was Juniper Bank, with a 76% difference. Mintel Comperemedia says Chase and Citibank have both shown decreased direct mail activity in the credit card sector by 7% and 8% respectively. Bank of America remained in the bottom half of the top 10 mailers, experiencing a 43% drop in its direct mail activity.

U.S. CARD SOLICITATIONS
(billions)
1998: 3.44
1999: 2.54
2000: 3.54
2001: 5.01
2002: 4.89
2003: 4.29
2004: 5.23
2005: 6.06
2006: 8.40
Source: CardWatch (www.cardwatch.com)

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Self-Service PR Campaign is Launched

KY-based Self-Service & Kiosk Association has launched a major public relations campaign with the help of Mazda, Subway, BMW, BEHR Paints and the City of New Orleans. The campaign, “The Best Service is Self-Service,” extols the virtues of self-service technology through testimonials: Mazda and BMW promote new car offerings using kiosks; Subway shortens the customer wait time and increases profits; BEHR Paints promotes a kiosk that allows customers to choose paint colors, and the City of New Orleans implements a self-service permit system to help in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The Self-Service & Kiosk Association (http://www.selfservice.org) is the only professional membership association serving the needs and promoting the interests of companies engaged in the electronic, self-service kiosk industry.

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Morgan Beaumont Names a New CEO

FL-based Morgan Beaumont has named Jerry Welch its new CEO, as current CEO, Clifford Wildes, wants to devote more time to his other businesses. Jerry R. Welch has been named the new CEO of Morgan Beaumont. Mr. Welch is the Chairman of the Board of Picture People Inc., a leading chain of 320 portrait studios. Since 1990, Mr. Welch has previously been the CEO of FAO Schwarz Inc., CEO of FAO, Inc., Chairman and CEO of Right Start, Chairman and CEO of Glacier Water Services Inc., and a Managing Director and Partner of Kayne Anderson Investment Management, Inc., a Los Angeles-based investment management firm.

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Equifax Raises its Earnings Projection

Equifax says it now expects earnings per share to exceed $2.00 for calendar year 2006, an increase from its previous EPS estimate of $1.90 to $1.99. Equifax reaffirmed its previous guidance with respect to estimated 2006 revenue growth of 7 to 10 percent, and cash provided by operating activities of $360 million to $365 million. As previously announced, Equifax is holding its Investor Conference today at the New York Stock Exchange beginning at 8:30 a.m., and available via live Webcast and later for replay at http://www.equifax.com. Equifax Inc. is a global leader in information technology that enables and secures global commerce with consumers and businesses.

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Pipeline Data Hires a New CFO

MA-based Pipeline Data has hired Curtis James, formerly with Fidelity National Information Services, as its new CFO. Prior to joining Fidelity National Information Services, Mr. James was senior vice president of finance and accounting for Lender’s Service, Inc., a $155 million processor of mortgage services. Pipeline Data Inc. provides value-added credit card transaction processing services for merchants in three key areas: wireless mobile payment, e-commerce solutions and retail merchant payment. Pipeline Data services more than 40,000 accounts.

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ME-UNI VISA

Emirates Bank has re-launched a VISA credit card targeted at university students. The revamped “meUNI VISA” offers credit limit of up to AED 4,000, no annual fee for student life, no salary requirement, low interest rate, free online and mobile banking, and free road assistance.
The “meUNI VISA” is being offered to university students, male or
female, with a minimum age of 18 and residing in the UAE.
Emirates Bank offers a full range of retail banking products and
services under the “me” brand name. These include: “meACCOUNTS” (current & savings Accounts); “meDEPOSITS” (Term Deposits); “meFORTUNES” (Draw
Certificates); “mePERSONAL” (Personal Loans); “meDRIVE” (Car Loans); “meCARDS” (Credit Cards); “meUNIVERSITY” (Student-Oriented Banking
Products/Services); “meLADY” (Female-oriented Banking Products);
“meINSURANCE” (Insurance Products); “meNRI” (for Indian Expatriates); “meNRL” (for Lebanese Expatriates); and “meMILES” (Credit Card Loyalty Program).

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GCA Adds Geoff Judge to its Board

Global Cash Access has named Geoff Judge of iMarket and 24/7 Real Media to its board of directors. Judge is a seasoned executive with extensive experience in online commerce and credit card marketing. He has been a founder or senior executive of several successful e-commerce companies, including iMarket Inc. and 24/7 Real Media. Global Cash Access Holdings Inc. is a holding company whose principal asset is the stock of Global Cash Access Inc..

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Consumers Embrace NFC Phone Payments

The first “Near Field Communication” pilot in North America has been completed in Atlanta showing that participants overwhelmingly embraced the technology. Starting in December, 150 Atlanta Thrashers and Atlanta Hawks season ticket holders with both a Chase-issued VISA credit account and a Cingular Wireless account made payments at contactless readers supplied by ViVOtech at concession stands throughout Philips Arena. Participants indicated that they would like to use their mobile devices for payment at a variety of merchant locations, for any purchase size, and see value in accessing multiple payment accounts on their mobile devices in the future. The trial was a collaboration between Chase, Cingular Wireless, Nokia, NXP, VISA USA and ViVOtech, along with Atlanta Spirit.

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