Salt River Project, the nation’s third-largest public power utility and one of Arizona’s largest water suppliers, has joined VISA’s “Utility Program,” accepting VISA exclusively for automatic recurring bill payments. The Salt River Project joins approximately 500 residential utilities nationwide to offer nearly 7 million customers card payments. Cardholders can schedule regular payments to automatically pay their electric bills and track payments on their monthly card statements. Visa cardholders in over 150 countries carry more than 1 billion Visa-branded cards, accounting for more than $3 trillion in annual transaction volume. The Salt River Project District provides electricity to more than 860,000 retail customers in the Phoenix area.Details
PA-based Sovereign Bank will become the first retail bank in the nation to offer customers American Express-branded credit cards issued by MBNA. The new card includes the “Sovereign Rewards Program,” which offers various redemption options such as cash, travel, gifts, merchandise and more. Sovereign has more than 1,000 ATMs in the Northeast U.S. MBNA began issuing AmEx cards last year.Details
Guangzhou Railway Group has selected SafeNet’s “Borderless iKey” USB
authentication tokens to launch its online ticketing service this year.
In order to cope with the increasing demand, stop black market
activities and ensure passengers could return home in time for the Chinese
New Year, the GRG set up the online ticketing service system using
SafeNet’s “iKey” as its 2-factor authentication to install personal
credentials and all necessary data for purchasing tickets in an efficient
manner. GRG will offer this service to large enterprise companies, who can
apply for an online account with GRG. These companies will receive
SafeNet’s “iKey” to access the system and reserve tickets for their
employees. Other SafeNet clients include Bank of America and the U.S.
Departments of Defense and Homeland Security.
VISA USA has taken fraud detection to a new level with the rollout of patent-pending technology that detects fraud at the POS. The new “Advanced Authorization” provides an instantaneous rating of that transaction’s potential for fraud to the financial institution that issued the card, including whether it was part of a reported data security compromise. The issuer is then able to send an immediate response back to the merchant whether to accept or decline the transaction, based in part on a sophisticated evaluation. This new technology is being applied to every VISA credit and check card purchase today. Issuing financial institutions determine how to incorporate the expanded fraud information into their existing risk systems. “Advanced Authorization” instantaneously detects potential fraud occurring not only on individual cardholders’ accounts, but throughout the VISA network. This dynamic capability allows “Advanced Authorization” to pinpoint and address coordinated attacks on multiple accounts in real time. VISA estimates the new system will prevent $164 million in fraud losses over the next five years.Details
International Card Establishment has signed its first ISO under its new Rep program in a deal with Texas-based Foresite Merchant Solutions. Foresite is currently opening new merchant accounts at the rate of 200 per month and expects to build its volume to 500 new merchant accounts per month by year’s end. I.C.E. is a provider of diversified products and services to the electronic transaction processing industry.Details
Sears Canada is looking to unload its Credit and Financial Services unit,
which includes a C$2.5 billion credit card portfolio. The “Sears Card”
with C$2.3 billion in receivables and the “Sears MasterCard” with C$200
million in receivables form the third largest credit card portfolio in
Canada with approximately four million active accounts. The Credit and
Financial Services business generated approximately C$100 million of
operating income last year. Goldman, Sachs has been retained to advise
Sears Canada on its strategic alternatives. Sears Canada expects to
conclude its review in the third quarter.
Kentucky has selected “AMS Advantage 3” to manage the state’s $21.4 billion annual budget and run its complex procurement processes, which each year encompass more than 3,000 online solicitations for goods and services, collects over $100 million in payments, including $16 million in credit card and e-check transactions and initiates nearly 10 million payments. Advantage 3 is a Web-based suite specifically designed for governments to manage real-time financial transactions. More than 190 state and local governments use AMS Advantage. CGI-AMS Inc. is the wholly-owned U.S. operating subsidiary of CGI Group with annualized revenue of US$3.0 billion.Details
VISA said this morning it has enhanced its processing systems to allow for the management of cardholder rewards and enhancements at the individual account level. The new processing capability is an improvement over current capabilities, which require management of benefits at an aggregated level based on clusters of cards within the same account group. In addition to increased customer loyalty from personalized rewards and account services, this step will alleviate the need to change a cardholder’s account number simply because the product has changed. VISA’s systems upgrade has also enabled “Visa Incentive Network,” which helps merchants tailor discounts and promotions to the most interested cardholders. Instead of grouping cardholders by pre-selected reward categories, merchants and card issuers can in the future offer dining promotions to cardholders who are avid restaurant-goers, discounts to consumers who prefer boutique shopping or special offers to frequent travelers. The V.I.N. initiative was launched in April. By October, VISA anticipates that more than 50 million accounts in the USA will be eligible for tailored rewards.Details
The CVS retail pharmacy chain is deploying 12,000 Hypercom “Optimum L4100” RFID-enabled payment terminals. The terminals, configured to CVS specifications, accept magnetic stripe cards, smart cards, and contactless cards or key fobs. The “L4100” features a 200Mhz 32-bit Intel “XScale” processor, a 64K color VGA screen, a bi-directional, dual-sided magnetic stripe reader, an advanced screen protection and replacement system, multiple connectivity options and a contactless RFID reader. The RFID readers supports American Express “ExpressPay,” “MasterCard PayPass,” and “VISA Contactless” payment programs. CVS/pharmacy has 5,400 stores.Details
Desjardins has lowered its threshold whereby users must enter their date of birth from $1,000 to $300 for deposits and from $400 to $300 for withdrawals. The change affects users of the “Desjardins Access Card” (debit card). Last March, Desjardins announced its intention to modify its systems to enable the use of chip cards as of 2008, which will make it possible to provide even greater protection to account holders. In 2004, there were 5.6 million “Desjardins Access Cards” in circulation, making Desjardins one of the largest debit card issuers in QuÃÂÃÂ©bec. That same year, Desjardins caisse members carried out more than 800 million direct payment and Desjardins ATM transactions.Details
Wells Fargo will launch a 10-year online anniversary sweepstakes tomorrow offering $100,000 in prizes for online payments, funds transfer or online statement sign-ups. In 1995, Wells Fargo became the first financial institution to introduce access to banking accounts on the Web. Online banking is now the most heavily-used channel among Wells Fargo customers. Over half of the bank’s consumer checking accounts are currently accessed online. Wells Fargo & Company is a diversified financial services company with $436 billion in assets and more than 23 million customers.Details