Former CardWeb.com Advertising Exec Dies

CardWeb.com’s first chief advertising executive died Friday, March 4th after a nearly six-month battle with brain cancer. Joan Gassman, who served as SVP/Sales and Marketing, from 1995 until her retirement in 1998, was among the early pioneers of credit card marketing on the Web. On hand in New York City on September 11, 1995 for the formal launch of CardWeb.com at the annual ABA BankCard Conference, Gassman spent most of her time helping Internet-challenged bankers up the learning curve. At the time, only three of the nation’s top ten credit card issuers operated a Web site. However, she was instrumental in forging relationships with such early-adopters as First USA, Providian, Wachovia, NextCard, AFBA, and other card issuers. Her contributions to the credit card Web advertising paradigm has continued to influence Web advertising partnerships to this day. Robert McKinley, CEO of CardWeb.com, said “Joan possessed the unique ability to foresee the impact of the Web on ordinary people, had the gift to communicate its importance to the banking community, and was able to successfully bridge the chasm between credit card providers and users.”

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Skanetrafiken Selects Cubic for Resekortet Fare System

Transport operator, Skanetrafiken, has selected Cubic Transportation Systems for the design, delivery and implementation of
the “Resekortet” smart card-based fare collection system. The contract replaces Skanetrafiken’s existing ScanPoint-supplied, magnetics-based fare collection system for the transport operator’s 56 rail stations and 950 buses. The new system will consist of operating software, communications, driver control units and validators for buses; and ticket vending machines, station validators and handheld devices for rail. Cubic will also supply and install its “Nextfare” central system for Skanetrafiken’s back office computing system. The contract also includes an option for customer services and maintenance.

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Fidelity Information & PhoneCharge Team

Fidelity National Financial, Inc. and its Fidelity Information Services division announced an agreement with PhoneCharge, Inc., an electronic bill payment company, to co-market a suite of electronic bill pay products, enabling automobile loan and lease companies to streamline, upgrade and expand their payment services. Fidelity National Financial, Inc., number 262 on the Fortune 500, is the nation’s largest title insurance company and a provider of other specialty insurance products.

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Capital One Buys a National Bank for $5B

Capital One’s search for a bank is over as the nation’s fifth largest bank credit card issuer is acquiring New Orleans-based Hibernia, in a stock and cash deal valued at $5.3 billion. The transaction will give Cap One lower funding costs and access to the robust Texas banking market. The combined company will be one of the top 10 largest consumer lenders and one of the top 20 in terms of total deposits. Hibernia National Bank will become a subsidiary of Cap One and will change its name to Capital One National Bank. Herbert Boydstun will remain President and Chairman E.R. Campbell, will join Capital One’s Board of Directors. Capital One’s subsidiaries collectively had 48.6 million accounts and $79.9 billion in managed loans outstanding at the end of last year. Cap One’s market value is currently about $19 billion.

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VASCO Unveils its Digipass 820

VASCO Data Security has introduced its “Digipass 820” formerly known as “PocketID 20” by AOS Hagenuk. VASCO acquired AOS-Hagenuk for $6.5 million in early February. The “Digipass 820” is a user friendly, multi-character set unconnected secure smart card reader. It is EMV-CAP approved and supports Chinese, Japanese and Arabic symbols. VASCO’s other products include the “Digipass 800” and “Digipass 850.” “Digipass 800” is a multi-functional unconnected secure smart card reader
that extends strong authentication and digital signature capabilities to all market-leading smart cards. “Digipass 850” is a connected secure smart card reader that can also be used in an unconnected mode. To-date
more than 13.5 million Digipass products have been sold.

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MasterCard Seeks to Become an IRS QPCA

MasterCard is applying to become an IRS “Qualified Payment Card Agent” to help its commercial customers and cardholders streamline the annual 1099 filing process. If approved, MasterCard will be authorized by the IRS to gather relevant merchant information on behalf of participating financial institutions’ corporate card customers, validate the accuracy of key data elements with the IRS, and report the results. The new MasterCard service will alleviate the increased administrative and financial burden placed on corporations by the IRS and will result in more streamlined annual 1099 tax filing processes.

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Consumers Making Min Payments Rises to 40%

A new survey has found that the number of consumers making minimum payments has increased slightly to 40%. The “Cambridge Consumer Credit Index” also found that 5% of Americans did not have the money to make any payment on their credit card balances, up from 3% last year. Of the respondents surveyed, 37% paid less than half but more than minimum payments (down from 39% in 2004). About 17% of Americans paid more than half the balances due, down from 19% last year. Overall, 39% of Americans have continued to pay off their balances in full (unchanged from 2004), 28% extended their payments (down from 32% a year ago). Additionally, the survey shows that the number of Americans not using credit cards at all has risen from 26% in 2003 to 33% today.

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ChoicePoint Faces SEC & FTC; Makes Changes

Atlanta-based ChoicePoint confirmed that it is under investigation by the SEC and the FTC. The firm also announced Friday it is ending the sale of information products that contain sensitive consumer data, including Social Security and driver’s license numbers, except where there is a specific consumer-driven transaction or benefit, or where the products support federal, state or local government and criminal justice purposes. The SEC is looking into the timing of trading in ChoicePoint stock by its CEO and COO. The Company said Friday it found suspicious activity by a few of its small business customers in the Los Angeles area on September 27th, earlier than previously disclosed. Based on information currently available, ChoicePoint estimates that approximately 145,000 consumers from 50 states and other territories may have had their personal information improperly accessed as a result of the recent Los Angeles incident and certain other instances of unauthorized access to its information products.

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Coach K does My life. My card. AmEx Ad

American Express today announced the addition of Duke University Basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski (a.k.a. Coach K) to its global card brand campaign, “My life. My cardSM.” The “My life. My card.” campaign is the company’s first ever umbrella campaign to support all issuers of American Express-branded cards. American Express Company is a diversified worldwide travel, network, and financial services provider founded in 1850.

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TNB Card Services Inks 3 Processing Deals

Dallas-based TNB Card Services has won the credit card processing business of three West Coast credit unions. The new clients are United Health Services CU of Spokane, GaPac Employees FCU of Bellingham and Horizon CU of Fresno. TNB Card Services provides full-service credit and debit card processing, serving more than 450 financial institutions and managing more than 1.6 million cards.

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Credit Card-Back Bonds Remain Stable in Q4

Delinquencies (60+ days) for card-backed bonds in the U.K. remained stable in the fourth quarter ending the year at approximately 2.5%. Thirty day delinquency ended 2004 at 3.9%, 20 basis points below the third quarter. According to Fitch’s “Credit Card Movers & Shakers,” charge-offs ended the year at 4.5%, its third consecutive quarterly decline. Fitch expects charge-offs to drop to 4.2% by mid-year. Unlike the U.S. card ABS, the monthly payment rate has been dropping. During the fourth quarter the MPR declined to 16.7% compared to 17.7% for the third quarter.

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