GCA Launches a Central Credit Interface

Las Vegas-based Global Cash Access has added a real-time, high-speed interface to its Central Credit service. Central Credit Real Time is an interface that bridges a casino’s in-house casino management software with the Central Credit gaming patron credit bureau, which provides access to gaming patron credit history and transaction data on millions of gaming patrons worldwide. When a gaming patron makes a credit request, the casino will consult as many sources as possible, including the Central Credit database, to help make its decision to grant credit.

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Mint and Now Prepay Launch a Prepaid Card Network

Now Prepay has joined with Mint to launch the first retail-based cash acceptance network designed for reloading prepaid financial products. Initially 1,000 of Now Prepay’s 8,500 retail partner locations
across Canada will provide a secure point-of-sale system for activating
and reloading prepaid credit card products from Mint’s portfolio of cards over Now Prepay’s existing national prepaid network. Now Prepay has also included a “location look up” feature on its Web site so that customers can locate a merchant near them. There are an estimated 3,000,000 or more Canadians who are the target consumers for these cards.

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Extra Paycheck Goes to Debt Repayment

A new survey has found that U.S. workers would pay down debt with an extra paycheck, rather than use the money to buy themselves an extravagant gift or make a down payment on a new car. The Ceridian poll found that 29% of respondents would use the extra money to pay down debt compared to the 15% who would save the money. Managers were more likely than executives to report that they would pay down debt with an extra paycheck; managers were largely split between paying down debt and investing the money. Ceridian notes that March 2006 is just one month in which U.S. workers who are paid every other week (rather than monthly or semi-monthly, for example) receive three paychecks.

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FleetCor Names a FleetSource President

Atlanta-based FleetCor has named Benton Routh, former Global Manager of the Commercial Vehicles and Card Business at Exxon Mobil Fuels Marketing Company, as President of FleetSource. Routh, a 15-year veteran of the oil and credit card industry will transition from his current Chief Marketing Officer position at FleetCor into this new role as President of FleetSource. Prior to joining FleetCor, Benton was the Global Manager of the Commercial Vehicles and Card Business at Exxon Mobil Fuels Marketing Company.

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Citi Direct Offers Complete Bank Access

Citibank has launched a new online bank that enables any U.S. consumer to open a bank account and have access to a broad range of services including credit cards. “Citibank Direct” offers bill payment, money transfers and access to Citibank’s more than 900 branches and 3,100 ATMs. Citi says 40% of the customers who open accounts on Citibank.com, live outside of the bank’s branch network areas. In addition to “Citibank Direct,” Citibank plans to open 100 new branches in 2006 and launch “Citi Mobile,” a mobile phone banking service, later this year.

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Ukash Payment System Now Available

New Media Lottery Services has announced that the Ukash payment system is
now available at over 1,000 retailers through Alphyra’s
“PAYzone” terminals, promoting NMLS’ lottery games and client charities
throughout Ireland. The Ukash payment system allows customers to use cash
instead of a card when buying goods and services over the Internet. To
exchange cash for Ukash, customers simply pay the shopkeeper for Ukash to
their desired value from EUR 10 up to EUR 150. The shopkeeper then issues
a Ukash voucher, which customers can redeem online. New Media Lottery
Services operates and markets a variety of lottery games for charities
and other lottery license holders.

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ACI Worldwide Powers Emporiki Bank’s EMV Cards

ACI Worldwide has enabled the deployment of one million EMV debit cards
for Emporiki Bank. Emporiki Bank issues its multi-application EMV cards
using ACI “Smart Chip Manager for Card and Application Management” to manage and automate the process of smart card issuance.
Emporiki Bank was the first Greek bank to issue EMV on a sizable scale
and now has the ability to handle international payments quickly and
efficiently. The bank will also benefit from the liability shift and the
market positioning of the Visa and MasterCard brands.

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CARD SHARE

The market share of American Express and Diners Club has slipped in January to its lowest level since June. In December AmEx and Diners held a 16.8% share but it plummeted to 15.2% in January. One-year ago the two card networks held a combined share of 17.0%. While the January decline can be attributed to higher VISA, MasterCard and Bankcard activity during the holiday season, merchants are resisting the higher fees charged by American Express and Diners Club. The Reserve Bank of Australia forced pricing reforms on VISA, MasterCard and Bankcard in 2003. The average merchant service fee charged by Bankcard, MasterCard and VISA in the fourth quarter rose slightly to 96 basis points but remains down by three basis points compared to one-year ago, but up four basis points from the prior quarter. American Express’ average merchant service fee declined by five basis points to 2.30% from the prior quarter and eight basis points lower than one year ago. Diners Club edged up by four basis points to 2.33%, compared to the prior quarter.
(CFI Library 3/15/06)

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Chase Paymentech Offers the Vx 510

Chase Paymentech Solutions has launched the VeriFone “Vx 510” payment solution for smaller Canadian merchants. This solution efficiently processes all major credit and Interac debit payments, and supports Chase Paymentech’s electronic gift card program, FlexCache. The Vx 510 countertop payment system, supported by the external SC5000 PIN Pad, provides extraordinary electronic payment options using Chase Paymentech’s communication methods.

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Royal LePage and AMEX Offer Relocation Card

Royal LePage Relocation Services Limited, in partnership with American
Express, is announcing the launch of the first-ever purchasing solution
designed specifically for relocating employees in Canada. The customized
American Express Corporate Purchasing Card is loaded with a pre-
determined amount that relocating employees can draw on for their out-of-
pocket expenses. The card not only eliminates some of the financial
inconveniences normally passed off to employees during relocation, but
also
provides employers with supplier controls, so they can identify where the
cardis to be used, and enhanced expense management to help them keep track
of their overall relocation costs.

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Consumer Confidence Nears a 4-Year High

Consumer confidence has been pushed to a near four-year high in March. The Conference Board “Consumer Confidence Index,” which had declined in February, increased in March. The Index now stands at 107.2, up from 102.7 last month. The CB says the improvement in consumers’ assessment of present-day conditions is yet another sign that the economy gained steam in early 2006. Consumer expectations, while improved, remain subdued and still suggest a cooling in activity in the latter half of this year. Consumers expecting business conditions to worsen decreased to 9.9% from 10.9%, while consumers expecting business conditions to improve increased to 18.0% from 16.2%. The proportion of consumers anticipating their incomes to increase in the months ahead held steady at 18.8%.

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