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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


Unemployment Edges Upward But Stays Steady

Non-farm payroll employment increased by 262,000 in February and the unemployment rate edged up to 5.4 percent, the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor reported today. Job growth occurred in both goods-producing and service-providing industries. A quick review of the report reveals the following:

– Both the number of unemployed persons, 8.0 million, and the unemployment rate, 5.4 percent, returned to their December levels after dipping in January.

– The number of long-term unemployed–those unemployed for 27 weeks and over–remained at 1.6 million.

– Total employment was about unchanged at 140.1 million,seasonally adjusted. The employment-population ratio–the proportion of the population age 16 and over with jobs–was little changed over the month at 62.3 percent.

– Over the year, the number of persons who held more than one job increased by 432,000 to 7.7 million, not seasonally adjusted. These multiple jobholders represented 5.5 percent of total employment in February, up from 5.3 percent a year earlier.

– Construction employment rose by 30,000 in February. Since its most recent low point in March 2003, the industry has added 458,000 jobs.

– Manufacturing added 20,000 jobs, with motor vehicles and parts accounting for about half of the job gain. While total manufacturing employment edged up over the year, it has shown little net change since mid-2004.

– Employment in a number of service-providing industries grew over the month. Professional and business services employment expanded by 81,000 in February. Within this sector, sizable increases occurred in employment services (38,000), services to buildings and dwellings (14,000), and architectural and engineering services (7,000). Within employment services, temporary help services added 30,000 jobs in February and 207,000 jobs over the year.

– Retail trade employment increased by 30,000 in February, with small gains distributed throughout this industry. Over the year, retail trade has added 135,000 jobs. Wholesale trade employment was essentially flat in February; employment in the industry has been trending upward, however, and has grown by 94,000 since its most recent low in August 2003.

– Within the financial activities sector, employment growth continued in credit intermediation and related activities. The industry added 11,000 jobs in February, with commercial banks accounting for about 5,000 of the gain.

– Health care employment rose by 23,000 over the month. Since February 2004, this industry has gained 262,000 jobs. Over the month, employment increased in ambulatory health care services (12,000) and in hospitals (6,000).

– In the leisure and hospitality sector, food services and drinking places added 27,000 jobs in February. Over the year, leisure and hospitality employment increased by 268,000, with strong gains in both food services and accommodations.

– The average workweek for production or nonsupervisory workers on private, non-farm payrolls was unchanged in February, at 33.7 hours, seasonally adjusted. The manufacturing workweek declined by 0.2 hour to 40.5 hours, the same level as in November and December.

– Average hourly earnings of production or nonsupervisory workers on private, non-farm payrolls were unchanged over the month at $15.90, seasonally adjusted. This followed a 5-cent increase in January. Average weekly earnings also were unchanged in February at $535.83. Over the year, average hourly earnings grew by 2.5 percent and average weekly earnings increased by 2.2 percent.