Wal-Mart Veteran Gets Booted Over Gift Cards

Wal-Mart kicked a member off its Board last week for the alleged unauthorized use of corporate-owned gift cards. Thomas Coughlin was asked to resign after a recent internal investigation turned up questionable personal reimbursements based on alleged false information on third-party invoices and expense reports. Wal-Mart estimates to loss to be between $100,000 and $500,000. The Company has referred the results of its investigation to the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas. Coughlin was a member of the Boardâ™s Strategic Planning and Finance Committee, Executive Committee and Stock Option Committee. He joined Wal-Mart on 1978 and was elected to the Board in 2001. Prior to becoming Vice Chairman, Coughlin served as EVP and President and CEO of the Wal-Mart Stores Division and SAM’S CLUB.

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VISA’s CCE Breaks-Out 05 Spending Estimates

VISA’s new “Commercial Consumption Expenditure” has been expanded with detailed segment forecasts. The “VISA CCE” estimates that large- and middle-market companies will represent 59% of non-payroll business spending this year. The public sector is expected to make up 10% and small business is projected to comprise 31% of non-payroll business spending. The largest share of commercial expenditures consists of core business services (which includes accounting and bookkeeping, insurance, and shipping services). Expenditures in this area are expected to grow 4.7% this year to $5.5 trillion. Travel and entertainment expenses are expected to rise 3.7% in 2005 to $305 billion. The “VISA CCE” anticipates $15 trillion in commercial spending across industries, purchase categories, and business segments. VISA introduced the next index in May 2004. (CF Library 5/19/04)

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Axalto PED Passes EAL4 Against APACS’ PED PP

Axalto’s PED has passed the “Common Criteria Evaluation Assurance Level 4” (EAL4) against the “PED Protection Profile”
defined by APACS. The “EAL4” evaluates the security of PED
products along its entire life cycle, covering design, development, production, evolutions and utilization. Axalto has been a major supplier of “MagIC 6000” and “MagIC 6100” POS terminals to the UK market. With
the UK’s new security requirements, Axalto also introduced “MagIC 1100,” a PIN pad that incorporates a smart card reader, and delivered large volumes of “MagIC 1100” to the UK market in 2004. This offering
allows previously installed terminals to be easily updated to accept PIN
with the security level required by APACS. “MagIC 1100” allows consumers to insert their own chip card and key in their PIN code in total
privacy.

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WA State Legislature Debates Card Marketing

The State of Washington is considering a bill that would restrict the marketing of credit cards to college students on the state’s public school campuses. The bill would require public colleges and universities to create policies regarding credit card companies on campuses. As part of the policies, the schools could ask the companies to register with them, limit the times and places they could market the cards and even prohibit the gifts companies offer to students. Many schools have policies regulating commercial vendors but enforcement has posed a challenge.

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VISA ELECTRON

Digital River has launched a PIN debit card for the global clients of its hosted e-commerce sites. The new “Digital River VISA Electron Card” is targeted at small- to mid-sized clients operating where credit card acceptance is low or withdrawing cash from banks is difficult. The card can be used for making off-line PIN purchases, withdrawing cash, and receiving payments from the company for revenue they generate on their Digital River-hosted e-commerce sites. The
card also is accompanied by a “Virtual VISA” card, which can be used to
make online purchases. The “Digital River VISA Electron Card” is powered by ePassporte. Digital River has more than 40,000 software publishers,
manufacturers, distributors and online retailers as clients.

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VeriFone EMEA Names a Head of Marketing

VeriFone has named Chris Lomax as Head of Marketing for VeriFone
EMEA. Lomas previously worked for Aconite, Datacard, and Racal (now Thales). Aconite is a consultancy and software solutions provider with expertise in smart card systems and security for the banking and retail sectors. Lomax replaces Richard Crookston, who becomes Director of Product Strategy. VeriFone has shipped over eleven million electronic payment systems since inception in 1981.

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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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