Amerada Hess Renews Wright Express Contract

Maine-based Wright Express has renewed its fleet card agreement with Amerada Hess Corporation. Wright Express has administered and offered a proprietary branded fleet card for Amerada Hess for almost ten years. Amerada Hess is a global integrated energy company. Wright Express is a provider of payment processing and information management services for over 285,000 commercial and government fleets containing more than 3.9 million vehicles.

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MasterCard’s Premium Collection Expands

Hideaways International has been selected to be featured in the 2005 MasterCard “Global Premium Collection.” Sixteen hand-selected properties will be featured on the cards. MasterCard’s has about 250 million cardholders in its “Global Premium Collection,” which includes “Gold,” “Platinum” and “World” cards. MasterCard reported that the number of “Premium MasterCard” cardholders increased by 15 million last year, adding an additional $30 billion in spending volume. As part of their luxe travel benefit, premium MasterCard cardholders receive a one-year membership in the Hideaways Aficionado Club ($185/year) when they book a stay at one of the escapes through the Hideaways International Travel Agency. (CF Library 3/24/05)

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Charge-Offs Inch Up but Stay Under 03-04

Charge-offs, among $391 billion in credit card-backed bonds, increased 30 basis points in May, following the 10 bps increase in April. Despite the increase, charge-off rates continue to remain at levels that have not been experienced since early 2001. In fact, according to Standard and Poor’s latest “Credit Card Quality Index,” the May charge-off rate of 6.5% represents a 50 bps improvement over the rate during the same period last year. Furthermore, the May ratio was 10 bps lower than the 2004 average of 6.6% and 70 bps lower than the 2003 average of 7.2%. During the first five months of 2005, the charge-off rate has averaged 6.2%. S&P noted that during May, the unemployment rate improved further to 5.1% and was down 0.5% year-over-year.

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Top 3 to Control 75% of V/MC Volume in 06

The Bank of America and MBNA combination will increase the U.S. VISA/MasterCard market share of the top three issuers, based on gross dollar volume, to 75% next year. In early 2006, the top three issuers will each have at least $100 billion in credit card outstandings and $300 billion in annual gross dollar volume. Last year, Chase posted $346 billion in gross dollar volume, while Citi reported $302 billion. MBNA reported $206 billion for 2004 as BofA posted $93 billion, according to CardData. VISA and MasterCard reported a total of $1269 billion in U.S. gross dollar volume on credit cards in 2004.

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TransUnion’s TrueCredit Earns Telly Awards

TransUnion’s TrueCredit subsidiary has earned “Telly Awards” for three television commercials. Launched in collaboration with Chicago-based agency TargetCom in early 2005, the commercials form the “True Stories” campaign. Each features the real-life story of a TrueCredit customer dealing with financial challenges such as identity theft, homeownership and debt management. TargetCom’s client roster includes Discover Card. TrueCredit’s online products include credit reports and credit scores, as well as debt management and identity theft insurance services.

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American Express Offers a UK Nectar Card

American Express and Loyalty Management UK are planning to launch the first co-branded “Nectar” card product in September. The new “Nectar Credit Card from American Express” offers collectors double points at Nectar retailers and 1 point per GBP1 spent everywhere else, according to this week’s issue of CardFlash International. Nectar is the largest loyalty program in the UK with 50% of all UK households participating. From mid-September, those holding the Nectar card will be able to double dip at Nectar retailers such as Sainsbury’s, Debenhams, adams kids and ebookers by paying with the credit card and presenting their Nectar card to earn 4 points for every GBP1 spent. In addition to financial services, Nectar collectors can now earn points on 40% of their total household purchases, including groceries, petrol, department store purchases and utilities. LMUK anticipates that this figure will rise to 70% as additional partners are signed up. Since launch, Nectar has increased its penetration of the UK market to 50% of all households, grown from four to 17 sponsors and given out over GBP 450 million worth of rewards.

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Diebold Loses Timken as a Board Member

Ohio-based Diebold announced that Tim Timken, non-executive Chairman of the Board for The Timken Company, has retired from Diebold’s Board of Directors. Timken has been a member of Diebold’s board of directors since 1986 and held various committee responsibilities, most recently serving as member of the compensation committee and chair of the board governance committee. The Timken Company manufactures highly engineered bearings and alloy steel and related products and services. Diebold provides integrated security, services and self-service delivery systems. with reported revenue of $2.4 billion in 2004.

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HyperWare Earns Vital Class A Approval

Vital Processing Services has “Class A” approved the newest edition of Hypercom’s “HyperWare” POS software applications. Class A approval enables Vital acquirers to offer merchants the ability to process credit, debit, Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) and electronic check conversion transactions from the same payment terminal. Hypercom provides card payment transaction solutions globally. Vital Processing Services provide technology-based, commerce-enabling services.

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AmEx Tees Off a World Golf Sweepstakes

American Express has launched its “World Golf Championship” sweepstakes for cardholders enrolled in the “Membership Rewards” program. Cardmembers have the opportunity to win an array of exciting golf prizes, including one of 20 Grand Prize VIP packages. The Membership Rewards program is the largest card-based rewards program in the world, with more than 140 redemption partners. American Express Company is a diversified worldwide travel, network and financial services provider founded in 1850.

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GEM-INSTANT PAYPASS

Gemplus International has unveiled its solution for contactless
payment. “GemInstant PayPass” achieved all of the MasterCard PayPass
approval requirements on June 30th, bringing to the banks a contactless
solution compliant with the MasterCard “PayPass” specifications and
testing requirements. The cards will be produced at Gemplus’ recently
enhanced card manufacturing facility in Pennsylvania, starting in July.
7-Eleven agreed to accept “MasterCard PayPass” in its 5,300 U.S.
locations by early 2006. In April, MasterCard and MD-based Ritz Camera
Centers expanded MasterCard “PayPass” acceptance to each of the more
than 1,100 Ritz Camera Centers and 114 Boater’s World Marine Centers.
PA-based c-store operator, Sheetz, deployed “PayPass” system-wide in
March of this year. In August 2004, McDonald’s inked a deal to accept
MasterCard “PayPass.”

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Yum! Brands Pilots VISA Contactless Payments

Yum! Brands has teamed with VISA to test contactless payments in its Atlanta area restaurants. Visa Contactless uses radio-frequency technology to enable customers to make a purchase by holding the card near a secure reader at checkout. No signature is required for payments under $25. Worldwide, Visa cardholders in over 150 countries carry more than 1 billion Visa-branded cards, accepted at nearly 22 million locations and account for $3 trillion in annual transaction volume. Yum! Brands Inc. has nearly 34,000 restaurants in more than 100 countries and territories.

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