Burger King Opts for ValueLink Gift Cards

First Data Prepaid Services’ ValueLink has inked a deal with Burger King to add prepaid gift card services to its “PAY IT YOUR WAY” card acceptance program. Under terms of the deal, Burger King is ordering gift cards exclusively from ValueLink for stores in the USA and Canada. BK will also process prepaid transactions via FDC. The agreement expands FDC’s relationship with Burger King. In 2004, BK selected Chase Paymentech Solutions, a joint venture between First Data and Chase, as their payments processor in the USA. FDC also processes credit card transactions for BK restaurants in Canada. The “PAY IT YOUR WAY” program includes credit cards, signature-based debit cards, and prepaid cards.

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IKEA Pioneers In-Store Credit Card Kiosks

The largest home furnishings retailer and a pioneer of self-service has launched a credit card for U.S. customers that is available via in-store kiosks. The new IKEA private label credit card is issued by GE Consumer Finance. The self-service bilingual kiosks process credit applications in less than five minutes and without the assistance of an IKEA employee. Applicants receive a receipt they can use immediately through the following business day. The IKEA card is sent within seven to ten business days. Four to five kiosks are placed throughout each store. The card program also offers optional fixed payment plans for big-ticket purchases and special financing offers and payment promotions. IKEA has more than 225 stores in 33 countries, including 26 stores in the USA.

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GE Money to Issue the Ben Moss Jewellers Card

GE Money Canada landed a credit card program for Ben Moss Jewellers. Under this program, GE Money Canada will provide
Ben Moss Jewellers with card services to including marketing, risk
management, customer service, collections and payment processing. The
accounts will be serviced at GE Money Canada’s offices in Edmonton and
Toronto. The Ben Moss credit card has no annual or administration fees
and is currently offering all cardholders a six-month no payments
deferred interest promotion on purchases over $200. Ben Moss Jewellers has 52 stores located in 37 cities across Canada. GE Money Canada is
part of GE Consumer Finance-Americas and provides private label credit
card and MasterCard programs to consumers.

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AmEx Launches The Knot & Nest Credit Cards

American Express and The Knot have launched two new co-branded consumer credit cards. The “Knot Credit Card” was developed for couples planning their wedding, and “The Nest Credit Card” is designed specifically for newlyweds. The Knot is a leading wedding resource that reaches 1.2 million engaged couples annually through the Web, newsstands, bookstores, and national television. The “Knot Credit Card” offers a wedding planning kit, special travel offers and free gifts. The new card also provides benefits and special discounts for wedding-related merchants and events. The “Nest Credit Card” also offers a planning kit as well as discounts for home-related offers plus special travel offers. Both cards carry no annual fee and offer automatic enrollment in the “Membership Rewards” program. Cardholders receive 5,000 bonus points with their first purchase and 10,000 bonus points with annual spend of $15,000.

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Metris & HSBC Close as Metris CEO & CFO Exit

Metris CEO David Wesselink and CFO Bill Houlihan have left Metris Companies today following its merger with HSBC. This past summer the SEC served a “Wells Notice” on Wesselink and controller Mark Wagener. The SEC investigation, first disclosed by Metris in August 2003, concerns the company’s reporting and treatment of allowance for loan losses for 2001 and its valuation of retained interests in securitized loans. HSBC required Metris to resolve the SEC issues. Earlier this week, the Midwest Regional Office of the SEC informed Metris that it does not intend to recommend an enforcement action against Metris. More than 99% of Metris shareholders voted to approve the HSBC acquisition yesterday. The acquisition closed this morning. Metris will become a wholly owned subsidiary of HSBC. Metris and HSBC signed an agreement on August 4th for an all-cash transaction of $1.59 billion. (CF Library 7/13/05; 8/4/05; 11/29/05)

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AmEx Launches an HSA Card with WellChoice

American Express is entering the employee directed healthcare payment business with the release of a new “Health Savings Account” card. The new “American Express HealthPay Plus Card” is being issued in partnership with WellChoice, the parent company of Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield. The healthcare payment solution includes the “Empire Total Blue” consumer-directed health plan, a “Health Savings Account” from American Express Bank and the new AmEx “HSA” card. AmEx and WellChoice plan to offer the solution to corporations beginning early next year.

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OCT DEBT

Credit card outstandings continued to hover around GBP 56 billion
during October. The figure is also slightly below year-ago levels by GBP
800 million. The Bank of England reports the increase in total net
lending to individuals in October of GBP 8.9 billion was larger than in
September and above the previous six month average. However, the
twelve-month growth rate continued to weaken to 10.2%.
Within the total, the increase in net lending secured on dwellings GBP
7.6 billion was larger than in September and the previous six month
average. The increase in consumer credit of GBP 1.3 billion was higher
than in September. The annual growth rate of consumer credit continued
to fall to 10.5% in October.

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RBS Lynk to Offer Access to Debitman

Atlanta-based RBS Lynk is planning to provide access to the Debitman ACH debit network. Debitman is the only provider of a shared network, retailer-issued card. RBS says the primary incentive for retailers to issue store-branded debit cards was to reward consumers through their loyalty programs and keep the card value in their store network. However, with Debitman acceptance, retailers can take an active role in managing their electronic payment costs as well as save on network fees and receive incremental revenue as a card issuer. RBS Lynk says it recognizes Debitman as a debit network utilizing the national ACH system. Wal-Mart Stores recently announced it is accepting “Debitman” cards at the checkout in all Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club locations across the USA. The Debitman network interchange and switch fee is $0.15 per transaction and the network issuer rebate is generally $0.06 per transaction but can range higher. (CF Library 11/15/05)

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Fifth Third’s Second-in-Command Resigns Abruptly

Fifth Third Bancorp announced that EVP Neal Arnold, who headed the Company’s payment processing business, resigned yesterday. Arnold had served as executive in charge of the Company’s investment advisor, payment processing, mortgage and consumer lending businesses. Those businesses will report to George A. Schaefer, Jr., President and CEO of Fifth Third. Fifth Third Bancorp is a diversified financial services company headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio. with $104.6 billion in assets.

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ACS Signs TransFirst for Card & ACH Processing

The Government Solutions Group of Affiliated Computer Services has inked an agreement for Dallas-based TransFirst to provide credit/debit/ACH processing. Through this relationship, ACS will have access to TransFirst’s credit card processing programs, 24/7 in-house customer support, and the ability to offer business customers multiple payment processing methods including Internet, ACH, batch, wireless and recurring payments. In addition, ACS and its customers will be able to benefit from TransFirst comprehensive online reporting services. ACS will primarily leverage the power of TransFirst proprietary ACS provides business process outsourcing and information technology solutions to commercial and government clients. TransFirst currently processes approximately $22 billion in annual sales volume for more than 155,000 merchants and more than 965 financial institutions.

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GECF to Issue the Clockwork Royal Privilege Card

Success Group International’s Clockwork Home Services has signed a deal with GE’s Retail Sales Finance unit for a new private label “Royal Privilege” credit card. In addition to fast credit decisions, customers will receive competitive interest rates and responsive customer service from GE. As part of the Royal Privilege Program, GE will also be providing a one-call solution for approving Clockwork’s customers. When a customer is unable to obtain approval through GE, the contractor will be automatically transferred to a secondary finance source, eliminating the need to source the application to numerous finance companies. This will enable business owners to manage the consumer financing process more efficiently.

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