ACE Cash Express Profits Flat

Dallas-based ACE Cash Express reports that net income for the first months of 2006 was flat at $9.9 million. The current quarter includes the previously disclosed $0.04 after-tax charge related to the termination of the Company’s relationship with H&R Block. During the fiscal third quarter of 2006, ACE’s total revenue increased 16 percent to $91.2 million from $78.5 million in the prior year period, due primarily to a 19 percent increase in check cashing fees, an 18 percent increase in loan fees and interest, and a 33 percent increase in bill payment services. ACE Cash Express is a retailer of financial services, including check cashing, short-term consumer loans, bill payment and prepaid debit card services, and the largest owner, operator and franchisor of check cashing stores in the United States.

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DEBIT REFORMS

Bank regulators are continuing their efforts to drastically slash interchange rates on debit cards. The Payments System Board wants to push interchange fees in the EFTPOS system from 20 cents to 4.5 cents per transaction and cut the interchange fee in the “VISA Debit” system from 40 cents to 15 cents. The Board also wants the VISA system to remove the restrictions on merchants that require them to accept “VISA Debit” cards if they accept “VISA Credit” cards, and that prohibit merchants from imposing a surcharge on “VISA Debit” transactions.
However, the Board did note that earlier proposals that EFTPOS cash transactions by merchants to cardholders will not be subject to the
benchmark cap set out in the new “EFTPOS Standard” on interchange fees.
The new EFTPOS interchange “Standard” will become effective on November 1st. The Reserve Bank has given VISA and MasterCard until July 1st to show they will voluntarily comply with the new “EFTPOS Standard.”

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Benchmark to Resell Wincor ATMs

Benchmark Technology Group has agreed to market and resell Wincor Nixdorf’s line of cash systems including ATMs in the USA. Benchmark will market and resell Wincor Nixdorf’s line of cash systems including full function automated teller machines, cash dispensers, cash recycling systems, intelligent deposit systems and automated teller safes in the U.S. market. Benchmark Technology Group is a provider of end-to-end branch technology solutions for financial services institutions.

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NCR’s ATM Revenues Drop 5% in Q1

NCR reported that first quarter revenue of $259 million for its ATM business was down 5% year-on-year and down nearly $200 million from the prior quarter. Price erosion and lower volume drove operating income down to $13 million compared to $25 million in 1Q/05. In the Retail Store Automation unit revenue declined 2% to $172 million compared to one-year ago. The unit also posted an operating loss of $7 million due to lower profit in Japan and foreign currency fluctuations. During the quarter, Brown Shoe Company (Famous Footwear and Naturalizer Stores) has signed an order to equip all of its 1,300 stores with NCR POS systems running on “Windows Embedded for Point of Service” software platform. The Company also completed its acquisition of Tidel’s ATM assets. NCR says it expects lower profit during the second quarter in its ATM business due to the lingering impact of price erosion as well as manufacturing and supply-chain transition costs. For complete details on NCR’s current and past performance, visit CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]) (CF Library 1/6/06; 1/13/06)

[1]: http://www.carddata.com

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MC Names a New Americas President

MasterCard has named a new president for its Americas region which includes the U.S., Canada, Latin America and the Caribbean. Walter Macnee, who served as president of MasterCard Canada between 2001 to 2004, will take over the reins from Ruth Ann Marshall on May 15th. Marshall, who joined MasterCard in 1999, is taking early retirement but has agreed to stay through June to help with the transition. MasterCard is currently in the process of launching an IPO. Before returning to MasterCard, Macnee was EVP of CIBC in charge of its bank’s credit card business and national collections. He also served as Chairman of VISA Canada and Director of VISA International. The Americas region generates more than half of the MasterCard’s worldwide volume.

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Rewards Network Sales Slip 10%

Chicago-based Rewards Network posted a 10% decline in total sales for the first quarter to $68 million. Net income for the quarter was $1.8 million compared with a net loss of $3.7 million for 1Q/05 and net income of $2.1 million in the prior quarter. The Company says its Marketing Credits Program sales declined 9.7% to $62.6 million, driven by a 16.2% decrease in merchant count. The number of restaurants has declined from 9,957 at year end 2005 to 9,522. However, the number of active accounts increased from 3.43 million to 3.47 million over the same period. The Company provides airline miles, loyalty/reward program points and “Cashback Rewards” savings to its members. For complete details on Rewards Network’s latest results, visit CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]).

[1]: http://www.carddata.com

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Chase Intros Fan Reward Programs

Chase has teamed with Sports Loyalty Systems to become the official credit card of the fan reward programs of the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Arizona Diamondbacks. Cardholders earn one point for every dollar spent on the credit card which can be redeemed for exclusive sporting event experiences, memorabilia and other merchandise. Rewards start at 500 points. The Los Angeles Dodgers “Think Blue Rewards” was launched March 4th. The Arizona Diamondbacks “MVP Rewards” program was introduced on April 11th.

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