Choice Hotels VISA Promotion Launched

Bank of America and Choice Hotels are launching a promotion June 1st offering two free hotel nights for new cardholders making their first purchase by November 1st. The two nights are equal to 16,000 Choice Privileges reward points. In addition to no annual fee, cardholders earn bonus points at almost 3,000 Comfort Inn brand hotels throughout the U.S., as well as points for purchases with merchants that accept Visa credit cards. Choice Privileges Visa cardholders will automatically be enrolled in the rewards program. Choice Hotels International markets more than 5,000 hotels in over 40 countries. Bank of America is one of the world’s largest financial institutions, serving 33 million consumer relationships with more than 5,800 retail banking offices.

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CTS Introduces the TableSwipe Terminal

Colorado-based Communication Transaction Solutions has introduced “TableSwipe,” an encrypted payment card terminal for “paying at the table” in restaurants. TableSwipe is a handheld, wireless device the size of TV remote that transmits personal charge card information directly to the cash register for electronic card-company approval and prints a receipt without credit card information. It is a secure transmitter with no built-in memory, so credit card information is not retained in the machine. CTS is a privately-held company dedicated to creating solutions for security and operational efficiency issues in the hospitality industry.

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HDFC Bank Joins Euronet’s Cashnet ATM Network

HDFC Bank has joined the Cashnet shared ATM network. HDFC Bank operates the fourth largest ATM network in the country with 1,167 ATMs, serving approximately 3 million cardholders. Cashnet is operated by Euronet and is the largest nationwide multilateral shared ATM
network in the country. HDFC Bank is the tenth member bank to join the network. Euronet plans to have the HDFC Bank ATMs live on the Cashnet network by the end of May, with the establishment of an online connection between the Bank and its operations center in Mumbai.

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ID Fraud Snagged 54 Million Americans

A new survey has found that as many as 54 million Americans may have been the victims of ID-related fraud, now primarily driven by phishing attacks. The survey from First Data’s STAR network, reveals that 37% of consumers have received a phishing e-mail, while 19% said they have received a phishing phone call. Of those consumers who said they were contacted by phishers, 5% trusted the phishers enough to provide the requested personal information. Of those who said they provided information, 45% reported that the information was used to make an unauthorized transaction, open an account, or commit another type of identity theft. First Data says that in the past year, this contributed to the approximately two million new identity theft victims from phishing alone. Nearly one-third of consumers contacted said that the phisher had posed as a financial institution, while one in 10 reported that the phisher had impersonated a credit card company.

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Precidia Unveils a New Retail Router

Ottawa-based Precidia Technologies has introduced a multi-port POS IP adapter that offers convenience store, petroleum outlets and restaurant operators an expensive way to process over the public Internet using their existing POS equipment. “POSLynx220” is the latest addition in the “POSLynx” series of retail routers. The IP adapter
provides two dial and two serial interfaces that can connect dial
terminals and ATMs of any make as well as serial equipment including
Verifone “Ruby.”

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Beijing Purple Stars Appraisal and Asia Pay Team

Asia Payment Systems has launched a six-month pilot program with Beijing Purple Stars Appraisal to establish a credit bureau in Beijing. In support of the pilot program, BPS is providing staff, facilities, offices and local support and up to 300,000 credit files. Asia Pay is providing operational management, supervision, business plans, training, technology and start-up services. The BPS/Asia Payment Systems agreement for the creation of a credit bureau with Beijing Purple Stars Appraisal is in addition to the existing agreement between Asia Payment Systems and Shanghai CRC Telecom.

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GTCR’s H-Cube Buys a Mumbai BPO

Dallas-based H-Cube has acquired a majority interest in Zenta, the sixth largest Indian business process outsourcing company. Zenta’s current services include credit card servicing. H-Cube was formed in January by GTCR Golder Rauner in partnership with Henry Hortenstine, the former EVP Affiliated Computer Services. GTCR plans to invest up to $100 million in equity capital in H-Cube’s expansion. Zenta, with 2,600 employees in Pennsylvania and India, is H-Cube’s first acquisition. Priya Hiranandani, the founder of Zenta, will continue to serve as CEO. GTCR also has investments in TNS, VeriFone, Syniverse, TransFirst and Retriever Payment Systems. (CF Library 5/11/05)

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NIM Falls to a Q1 Five-Year Low

The average managed Net Interest Margin fell 18 basis points in the first quarter compared to 1Q/04 and is now 150 basis points below its peak in 1Q/02. NIM, the difference between interest income and interest expenses, expressed as a percentage of average earning assets, has been on a rocky road over the past year, dipping in Q2 and Q4, but rebounding in Q3 and Q1. For the first quarter the average managed NIM was 8.02%, compared to 7.95% in the fourth quarter, and 8.20% one-year ago. According to CardData, the average owned NIM for 1Q/05 was 5.82%, compared to 6.33% in the fourth quarter, and 7.01% one-year ago. Among some top issuers MBNA’s NIM has declined from 8.25% to 7.80% and Capital One’s has decreased from 8.33% to 7.87% between 1Q/04 and 1Q/05.

NIM Q1 HISTORICAL
1Q/01: 8.73%
1Q/02: 9.52%
1Q/03: 9.05%
1Q/04: 8.20%
1Q/05: 8.02%
Source: CardData (www.carddata.com)

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Pay By Touch Enters the Twin Cities

Minnesota-based Cub Foods is launching Pay By Touch’s biometric payment technology in four of its Twin Cities stores. The new technology is free to shoppers and will allow them to pay for their groceries with a finger scan linked to their financial accounts. This is a four-month pilot program. Cub Foods will make a decision regarding full deployment based on consumer interest and acceptance. Pay By Touch is a biometric payment service linking customers to their personal identification information, financial accounts, and loyalty programs. Cub Foods is one of the first discount food store chains in the country with 52 stores in the Twin Cities area.

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Advantex Marketing Revenues Climb 10% in Q1

Toronto-based Advantex Marketing International reported that sales and
fees for the quarter ended March 31st were up nearly 10% to
$17.1 million. Net results for the quarter improved by 46% or $0.6
million year-over-year. The Canadian credit card loyalty business was
the main driver of the higher revenues. Advantex says it plans to
introduce a “Merchant Funding Program,” wherein participating merchants
receive cash advances based on purchased rights to future credit card
sales over an extended period of time, up to six months. Advantex is
also working with The New York Times to develop a new “TimesCard”
loyalty program, scheduled for implementation this year and full launch
in early 2006. Advantex loyalty partners include Alaska Airlines, CIBC,
Delta Air Lines, The New York Times, United Mileage Plus, US Airways,
and other major North American corporations. For complete details on
Advantex’s latest performance, visit CardData (www.carddata.com).

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BB&T Introduces a Payroll Card

North Carolina-based BB&T has introduced its third prepaid product in the past year, a “Payroll Card.” It lets employers pay employees directly by loading funds onto a debit card instead of issuing paper checks by using ACH direct deposit process. Cardholders can use the Visa-branded card at millions of merchants worldwide. Benefits also include 24- hour customer service in English or Spanish; call center and Internet access; FDIC insurance insurance; and “Regulation E” protection against unauthorized use. BB&T operates more than 1,400 financial centers in the Mid-Atlantic and southern states with $102 billion in assets.

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InfiCorp Buys an AZ CU Portfolio

Atlanta-based InfiCorp has purchased the $7.7 million portfolio of Tucson Old Pueblo Credit Union and entered into an agent relationship with the assistance of New Hampshire-based Brookwood Capital. As of December 31, 2004 Tucson Old Pueblo CU reported about 3,700 credit card accounts and 17,000 members with approximately $144 million in total assets. Brookwood Capital offers brokerage, consulting and advisory services to credit card issuers nationwide.

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