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.Details
Charming Shoppes’ Spirit of America National Bank has closed a deal to acquire 1.8 million Catherines private label card accounts from Citigroup for $57 million. In 1998, Hurley State Bank, now Citibank USA, signed an agreement to run the Catherines store card program. Charming Shoppes purchased Catherines in 2000. On January 28, 2004, Catherines, Inc. exercised its rights to terminate the agreement and negotiate a definitive purchase agreement. On March 17th of this year, Spirit of America National Bank signed the purchase agreement. As of March 21st, the credit card accounts have been transferred and converted to Spirit of America National Bank’s processing system.Details
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.Details
Global Cash Access Holdings, Inc., has filed a registration statement with the SEC for a proposed public offering of up to $471,500,000 of shares of its common stock. Global Cash Access Holdings Inc. is a provider of cash access products and related services to the gaming industry.Details
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.Details
Sammamish Business Systems has introduced Express Billing hosted service. Express Billing automates the billing and payment of recurring credit card charges for customers to pay on an ongoing basis. Sammamish Business Systems provides specialized billing and web-based business applications for organizations providing ongoing personal and business services.Details
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.Details
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.
Citibank has joined the list of top issuers currently making adjustments to cardholder agreements. During the March billing cycle, Citi raised its balance transfer fee cap, late fees, and cash advance interest rates. Also, Citi, like other major issuers, is raising its foreign currency transaction fee next month to 3% from 2% as VISA and MasterCard drop their 1% foreign currency conversion fee. Balance transfers will now cost 3% with a $5 minimum and $75 maximum, according to CardWatch ([www.cardwatch.com]). The late fee is now $15 for balances under $100, $29 for balances between $100 and $1000 and $39 for balances of $1,000 or more. The cash advance APR is now prime +14.99% with a 19.99% minimum. Citi also dropped JAMS as an arbitration option and modified its arbitration clause to read: “If any portion of the arbitration provision is deemed invalid or unenforceable, the entire arbitration process will not remain in force” (instead of “the remaining portions will remain in force”). Minimum payments will adjust to past due amount + over-limit amount + ($5, if the APR is over 19.99%) plus the greater of
1. the billed finance charges and any applicable late fee
2. the new balance if it is under $20
3. $20 of the balance is between $20 and $960
4. 2.08% of the balance is over $960. A $5 fee will be added if all of the APRs on the account are under 19.99% and if #1 is the largest.
Small and mid-market petroleum and automotive retailers now have access to a payment card processing solution previously available only to national retailers. Global Payments has unveiled “Petroleum @dvantage Rigger Lite” that operates on the Keycorp “K26” terminal and offers a customized payment solution. The new solution feature a PIN Pad and all-in-one terminal/printer that enables merchants to accept all major payment card brands and a wide variety of fleet and commercial cards.
The product and the receipt can be customized to capture and communicate
business-specific information such as fuel type, product description,
associated tax information and price per liter.
Vesdia Corporation has launched “FundraiserRewards, a non-profit fundraising program. Participants earn rebates at more than 500 top-name retailers which are automatically donated to a charity, church, school or other nonprofit organization of the cardholder’s choosing. The program offers the potential to capture more than $21.7 billion annually in eligible shopping transactions, representing an incremental $1.1 billion per year in aggregate rebates. Vesdia specializes in loyalty marketing technology.Details