TransUnion Signs Up 40K for Monitoring

TransUnion’s TrueCredit said it has signed up more than 40,000 consumers for its new “3-Bureau Credit Monitoring” service. The service was launched six weeks ago when all the bureaus were required to offer free reports nationwide. The free reports were mandated by Congress in “The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003.” All three credit bureaus have introduced additional fee-based services to offset the cost of the free report service. TrueCredit’s “3-Bureau Credit Monitoring” offers unlimited access to reports and scores for $9.95 per month. In late August CardFlash reported that the TransUnion monitoring service was suspended after staff members trying to purchase the service were notified that “credit monitoring services were currently unavailable.” However, TransUnion insists the technical problems with the service affected a very small percentage of cardholders. Yesterday, TransUnion says it estimates that 99% of its customers will be able to enroll with the “Credit Monitoring” without a problem. The credit bureau says there will be a tiny number who will be unable to use the service for one reason or another–such as difficulties authenticating their identity.

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Welcome’s CEO Authors an EMV Migration Book

Aneace Haddad, Chairman of Welcome, a payment software provider has
authored a new book called: “A New Way to Pay – Creating Competitive
Advantage Through the EMV Smart card Standard.” The world’s payment
infrastructure is going through a major upgrade to EMV, the smart card
standard mandated by Europay, Mastercard and Visa to combat fraud. But
EMV also offers significant opportunities for creating competitive
advantage. Haddad says UK banks are losing GBP 400 million a year through card fraud but they are losing far more than that due to commoditization, primarily through rate wars and imminent fee reforms. Rate wars cost UK banks GBP 1 billion a year from customers switching card companies, unable to see the difference between the cards other than the rates they offer. In addition, the threat of fee reforms is pressuring banks to reduce the transaction fees charged to merchants, which could result in a loss of revenues estimated at another GBP 1 billion a year. Commoditization may soon be costing UK banks GBP 2 billion a year, a problem at least five times as great as fraud.

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Diebold Names a New President and CFO

Diebold promoted Thomas Swidarski as President/COO and Kevin Krakora as VP and CFO. Swidarski will be responsible for the company’s global operations in financial self-service, security and election systems, including all related functions in sales, service, manufacturing and development. Most recently, Swidarski held the position of senior vice president, financial self-service group. As CFO, Krakora will be responsible for the company’s global financial systems and related processes. Prior to this appointment, he served as vice president, acting chief financial officer and corporate controller for Diebold.

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TowerGroup Hires Two Industry Veterans

MasterCard’s TowerGroup has hired Dennis Moroney, formerly with Citibank, USAA and Chevy Chase Bank, as a senior analyst in its “Bank Cards” service, and Bobbie Britting, formerly with Wells Fargo and Fair Issac, as a senior analyst in the “Consumer Lending” service. Moroney has over 25-years experience in the financial services industry, working in the consumer banking, retailing and consulting arenas. At Citibank, he held several leadership roles in the credit cards arena including vice president of service quality and product development, and supporting the role-out of the American Airlines Advantage card. Britting’s expertise, acquired during a 19-year career in financial services, includes product development, Internet lending, all facets of marketing, and partnership management. She was most recently vice president, Lender Services at Ellie Mae, a provider of mortgage broker software. At Wells Fargo Consumer Credit, she launched the first home equity instant online decision technology, managed Internet and other partnerships, and integrated marketing activities. TowerGroup is the leading advisory research and consulting firm focused on the global financial services industry.

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Debit Settlement Distribution Extended

Merchants will now have until December 28th to submit their claim form or to challenge their estimated cash payment amount in the settlement of the “VISA Check/MasterMoney Antitrust Litigation” case. The judge overseeing the settlement extended the time for class members. Constantine Cannon, the lead counsel for merchants in the litigation, mailed claim forms last month to four million U.S. merchants class members that accepted VISA and MasterCard between October 25, 1992 and June 21, 2003. The VISA and MasterCard settlement provides $3.383 billion in compensatory relief and an injunction valued by the court in the range of $25-$87 billion to U.S. merchants and consumers over the next decade. The settlement became final May 31st.

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Welcome Names Three Board Members

Aix-en-Provence-based Welcome has appointed three new board members: Michael Keegan, Claude
Cosson and Rajiv Maliwal. Keegan is currently full time adviser to the
Royal Mail Group Inc UK Post Office on identity cards and biometric
passports. He was previously chief executive officer and continues as a
shareholder at Magex Limited, a leading P2P platform and prepaid card
provider to the
banking industry. Cosson is vice president Europe of FatWire Software, a
provider of strategic enterprise content management software and also
worked as global account manager at Oracle. Maliwal is managing director
and co-founder of SabreCapital, a private equity firm investing in
financial institutions in the emerging markets. Welcome is a provider of
payment software that utilizes the full capabilities of the EMV standard.

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Chase Wins Outstanding Issuing Award

The Smart Card Alliance has awarded Chase Bank USA the “Outstanding Issuing Organization” designation for its “2005 Outstanding Smart Card Achievement” awards. As the leading credit card issuer with over 100 million credit cards in circulation, Chase moved aggressively ahead with the issuance of its contactless cards in 2005, called Chase credit cards with “blink.” The contactless payment feature provides a new level of convenience, security and opportunity to cardholders across the country. The Smart Card Alliance is a not-for-profit, multi-industry association working to accelerate the acceptance of smart card technology.

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Hypercom Lands a Major Deal w/Phoenix

The Phoenix Group has agreed to purchase $8 million of Hypercom card payment terminals and PIN Pads. Under the terms of the 12-month agreement, The Phoenix Group will provide Hypercom’s products to ISO and bank customers in the USA. The products include the new “Optimum T4100” multi-application credit/debit device. The IP-enabled “Optimum T4100” is designed specifically for smaller retailers. Last month, Coinamatic, Canada’s largest multi-housing laundry route operator, agreed to purchase Hypercom’s new “T7Plus” credit/debit card terminals for use with their “SmartCity” smart card platform. In August Hypercom began shipping the first handheld PIN entry device to meet the new PCI security standards, the “P1300 PIN Pad.” (CF Library 8/16/05; 9/22/05)

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Card Debt Causes 32% of Marriage Arguments

A new survey sponsored by REDBOOK magazine and LexisNexis Martindale-Hubbell, conducted by Harris Interactive, has found that credit card debt is responsible for 32% of the arguments between couples. Nearly one-third (29%) of U.S. adults ages 25 to 55 who are in a committed relationship say they have been dishonest with their partner about spending habits. Women are more likely to be the ones keeping information from their partners (33% women vs. 26% men). One partner’s hidden spending can ultimately lead to credit problems that affect both partners. Without complete financial disclosure, it can be difficult for couples to create effective long-term financial plans.

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Banque Misr Expands JCB Card Acceptance

JCB has announced that Banque Misr will begin expanding JCB card
acceptance to all its affiliated merchants in stages over the next few
years. Banque Misr has 11,000 merchants covering 60%
of international brand card accepting merchants in Egypt, including
hotels, restaurants and other locations frequently visited by tourists.
Banque Misr is currently holding equities in 135 projects in various
fields, aimed at serving the national economy and has also established
two of the largest investment funds in Egypt. JCB is an international
credit card brand and the largest card issuer and acquirer in Japan. Its
merchant network includes 12.4 million merchants and spans 190 countries
and territories.

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Gift Card Spending to Rise 11% in Q4

Americans expect to spend an average of $248 on gift cards during the upcoming holiday season, an increase from $223 in 2004 and $183 in 2003. A new survey shows that 70% have either purchased or received a gift card and of the 30% who have not, one-quarter say they are likely to make a first purchase this holiday season. The annual survey, conducted by Stored Value Systems, also found that on average, the number of cards purchased in the past year has increased from 4.5 to 6.5. The average value of gift cards purchased in the past year is $40, a fairly steady level for the past three years. Additionally, among those who have received gift cards, almost three-quarters use their cards up completely. More than 80% discard it when its value is depleted. One-third of gift card recipients redeem the entire value of the card within one month of receipt. All but about 6% have redeemed it after one year. Louisville-based Stored Value Systems introduced the first-ever magnetic-striped retail gift card in 1995.

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Navy FCU Loans & Volume Up 18%+ in Q3

The nation’s largest credit union bank credit card issuer is fast approaching the $2 billion milestone in outstandings, posting $1.94 billion in the third quarter. VA-based Navy FCU, ranked #21 among all U.S. issuers, also reported that 3Q/05 volume rose more than 19% to $1.19 billion. As of September 30th, Navy FCU had 1,072,024 accounts, compared to 1,038,601 in the prior quarter, and 951,036 accounts one-year ago. (Navy FCU passed the one million account mark in the first quarter of this year.) The number of active accounts also increased sequentially and year-over-year to 562,140. The number of cardholders remained above 1.1 million for the quarter. The credit union issues “Classic,” “Gold,” and “Platinum” VISA and MasterCards, as well as the “nRewards” VISA and MasterCard, “TravelValue” VISA, “Student” VISA card, and a “Secured” VISA and MasterCard. For complete details on Navy FCU’s third quarter performance, visit CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]).

NAVY ACCOUNT HISTORICAL
2001: 769,181
2002: 761,180
2003: 836,642
2004: 951,036
2005: 1,072,024
Source: CardData (www.carddata.com)

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

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