College Students Rely on Credit Cards

A new study of college students has found that 25% rely on credit cards to pay a portion of their tuition and fees. Students cite the loan limits set for government programs as a contributing factor. The February study on Minnesota State Colleges and Universities also found that 37% of students use credit cards for other educational expenses, such as books, supplies or special equipment. Most students indicate they will not be able to pay off their credit card balances while in school. The Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system serves about 240,000 students per year in credit-based courses and an additional 130,000 students in non-credit courses.

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IDL Terminal Offers e-Discounts & Redemptions

Instant Discounts Limited has launched the first ever total
multi-application payment terminal with a fully electronic discount and
voucher redemption program. The IDL customer retention application sits on the IDL payment terminal, allowing integrated and independent
merchants to be able to afford to offer an instant cash discount
program which is completely electronic. The IDL terminal and customer retention application stimulates consumer repeat purchases at merchant’s stores and offers then similar or reduced credit and debit card transaction rates and reduced terminal rental fees. Instant Discounts Limited also has an ongoing strategic alliance with card
acquirer, Streamline. Streamline processes all credit and debit card
transactions made on IDL terminals as well as all IDL customer retention
application transactions.

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Green Dot MasterCards Go Nationwide

Los Angeles-based Next Estate Communications has launched a retail-based cash acceptance network designed for the reloading of prepaid debit cards. The “Green Dot Financial Network” has more than 35,000 locations nationwide, including Rite Aid, CVS, RadioShack, The Pantry, and Food Lion. Next Estate recently consolidated its “i-Gen,” “Free & Clear,” and “Truth” branded prepaid debit MasterCard cards under the “Green Dot” brand. The company will now offer the “Green Dot Everyday Card,” the “Green Dot Uso Diario Card” and, the “Green Dot Student Card” nationwide. The cards carry a $4.95 monthly fee. The cards are issued via Columbus Bank and Trust.

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Small Businesses are Optimistic for 2005

American Express’ OPEN Small Business Network Semi-Annual Monitor survey has been released. Highlights include: 85% of small businesses report seeing growth opportunities for their companies over the next six months, up from 72% in the spring of 2004 and 56% in the spring of 2003. In addition, more than half (57%) of businesses surveyed say they expect their revenues to exceed last year. However, respondents cite a number of barriers to securing the financing they need to grow their business. One in five (20%) say the size of their business is the greatest barrier, followed by overwhelming paperwork requirements (12%), a low credit score (11%), limited knowledge of financing resources (8%) and lack of documentation to support their loan application (6%). Sixteen percent of small businesses report having been denied a loan or line of credit. The OPEN Small Business Network Semi-Annual Monitor, released each spring and fall, is based on a nationally representative sample of 627 small business owners/managers of companies with fewer than 100 employees.

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CardXX Seeks More RAMP Smart Card Patents

CardXX has filed for a patent for its Advanced Smart Card. Advanced smart cards are capable of many sophisticated functions, such as displaying data, enabling users to enter Personal Identification Numbers (PIN) and passwords and detecting security threats. CardXX provides secure encapsulation of advanced electronics through manufacturing and licensing secure and intelligent smart cards.

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AmEx Incents Cardholders for Tax Payments

American Express has launched a number of incentives for cardholders using their AmEx card to pay 2004 income taxes. Cardholders enrolled in the “Membership Rewards” program can redeem points to offset the convenience fee charged for paying taxes via Official Payments Corporation or Link2Gov. A total of 200 points are required for each $1 of the convenience fee. Through April 15th, “Delta SkyMiles Credit Card” users will earn double miles for 2004 federal income tax payments. “Starwood Preferred Guest Credit” users earn double “Starpoints” on the first $5,000 of federal income taxes paid with the card. AmEx is also offering special discounts to cardholders on a variety of tax services.

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Brooklyn Public Library Gets Carded

The Brooklyn Public Library has introduced a multi-application card that provides access and payment for books, videos, prints and copies and vending-machine drinks. The new “Access Brooklyn Card” system was developed by Xerox. Kiosks are provided to check account balances, add funds, access the Internet, or review a list of library materials currently checked. The Brooklyn Public Library expects to save $1.2 million annually with the new card system. Xerox is providing on-site support and equipment maintenance. The solution is designed to support future sponsorship, advertising and donation programs, providing the library with additional means to collect funding for future member offerings.

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Euronet Acquires Telerecarga for $31 Million

Euronet Worldwide recently completed the acquisition of all of the assets of Telerecarga. Madrid-based Telerecarga specializes in the electronic distribution of prepaid wireless airtime and other prepaid products through approximately 10,000 POS terminals and over 14,000 other points of sale through electronic cash register integrations. Under the Telerecarga acquisition agreement, Euronet acquired
substantially all of the assets of the company for a purchase price of EUR 38.0 million with EUR 23 million being paid at closing on March 16, 2005 through the assumption of a like amount of liabilities of Telerecarga. Euronet also recently acquired the assets of Dynamic
Telecom in the USA and an additional 41% of UK-based ATX Software.

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