VISA to Offer Contactless Payments in the USA

While smart cards continue to languish in the USA, the use of contactless payment technology appears to be on the verge of exploding. The new technology got a major boost yesterday as VISA confirmed its contactless payment platform is now operationally ready for the U.S. market. The announcement follows on the heels of the national introduction of the “VISA Wave” card in Malaysia two weeks ago. VISA International launched the “VISA Wave” pilot in April 2004. “VISA Wave” is the first commercial implementation of a contactless smart card program built on the EMV standard. VISA’s decision to offer the technology in the U.S. follows contactless deployments by MasterCard and American Express. MasterCard launched its “PayPass” pilot in Orlando during January 2003. In August of last year, McDonald’s inked a deal to accept MasterCard “PayPass” nationwide. MasterCard has since signed up the Pennsylvania-based Sheetz convenience store chain, Seattle Seahawks, and the Baltimore Ravens football clubs for “PayPass” deployments. American Express first piloted its “ExpressPay” program in early 2003 in Phoenix. In December 2004, AmEx inked a deal with the CVS pharmacy chain for a full roll-out of “ExpressPay” for 5,300 stores by mid-year. While MasterCard recently introduced a new logo for “PayPass,” VISA USA has opted for a brand-neutral contactless indicator. (CF Library 5-14-03; 7-17-03; 12-16-04; 1-4-05; 2-22-05)

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Pipeline Data Acquires Two ISO Portfolios

Pipeline Data has signed deals to acquire two merchant portfolios totaling 1,500 accounts from ISOs. The portfolios will be purchased with a combination of cash and stock. The Company says the 1,500 accounts represent $142 million in annual consumer charge volume. Operating income is anticipated to be approximately $70,000 monthly. The acquisition will bring Pipeline’s customer base to more than 15,000 accounts. Pipeline reported revenues of $11.1 million for the first nine months of 2004, compared to $7.3 million one-year ago. The Company will release its 2004 year-end report on March 15th. (CF Library 11-17-04)

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Pago Moves its Focus to Credit Cards

Cologne-based Pago is putting the credit card at the center of its payment and risk management service portfolio. The change has been driven by the findings of a 2004 Pago study which concluded that the credit card is the No. 1 payment method in global E-commerce. Pago is both an acquirer and a provider offering a wide range of services to enhance credit card transactions.

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NCR to Buy Tidel Technologies’ ATM Business

NCR has agreed to acquire Mississippi-based Tidel Technologies’ ATM business. Tidel began in 1977 as part of 7-Eleven by inventing the “Timed Access Cash Controller.” Tidel is also unloading its TACC business and has retained Stifel, Nicolaus & Company to handle the sale. Tidel sold more than 190,000 “Cash Controllers” and ATMs in 38 countries to date. The Company was crippled four years ago by a major default by JRA 222, Inc. d/b/a Credit Card Center, a distributor of off-premise ATMs. JRA 222 produced more than 60% of Tidel’s net sales at the time. As of January 2005, Tidel was still actively pursuing the collection of monies from CCC. In July 2004, Tidel settled a consolidated shareholder lawsuit for $3 million and two million shares. (CF Library 7/7/04)

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Higher One Easy Refund MC Targets Smaller Schools

Atlanta-based Higher One is working with smaller schools from the University System of Georgia to test a new version of its “Easy Refund MasterCard.” Higher One provides refund management services to higher education institutions and banking services through a card-based solution, serving more than 250,000 students, faculty and staff at public and private universities.

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Fiserv Launches LynxGate Solutions for ATMs

Wisconsin-based Fiserv’s XP Systems has introduced LynxGate Solutions to provide ATM management solutions and EFT gateway products to financial institutions that drive their own ATM networks. Fiserv, Inc. provides information management systems and services to the financial industry, with more than 15,000 clients worldwide and reported $3.4 billion revenues for 2004.

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99-CENT ONE-SMART

MasterCard has teamed with Australia’s Keycorp, Germany’s Infineon Technologies and a number of smart card manufacturers to deliver the US$0.99 white card, based on the new “MULTOS” step/one platform. MasterCard first offered a $2.99 “MULTOS”-based smart card in December 2000. In late 2003, MasterCard was able to bring the price down to $1.99. The new lower-priced smart card contains “M/Chip,” the MasterCard EMV credit/debit application and the MasterCard “Open Data Storage” program, which allows for the secure storage and retrieval of personal data for loyalty, e-ticketing and more. Issuers also have the option of loading other value-added applications of their choice to the card. MasterCard currently has more than 233 million smart cards issued
worldwide. About 50% of these smart cards carry EMV chips. Also, more than half of these smart cards carry value-added applications such
as loyalty, digital ID, e-ticketing, e-coupons and personal data storage.

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Distribution of New Diners Club Card Set for May

Diners Club says it will send out its enhanced charge cards that offer MasterCard acceptance to existing U.S. cardholders in May and early June. Information packets are now being distributed to cardholders outlining changes in the program that become effective March 23rd. One major change affecting consumer cardholders is the reduction of the period before a late charge is imposed. Diners Club is cutting the period from two billing cycles to one for all consumer cardholders. Corporate cardholders will continue to have two billing cycles to pay without penalty. Also, additional cardholders on an account will no longer be liable to Diners Club for their charges, only the primary cardholder will be responsible. Diners is also modifying its “Club Rewards” program by cutting the points awarded in half, along with reducing the point requirements of redemption options by 50%. Diners says the “Club Rewards” changes will not result in any reduction in the value of the points. There are no changes in annual fees for the new enhanced Diners Club cards, Additionally, Diners is adding some new complimentary benefits on all cards such as “Roadside Assistance.” “Diners Club” cards issued by Diners Club International franchises (outside the USA and Canada) will include the MasterCard brand on the back of the card, enabling these cards to be accepted at MasterCard merchants in the U.S. and Canada and processed as MasterCard credit card transactions. When these cards are used outside of the USA or Canada, they will continue to be accepted and processed by “Diners Club” as they are today. (CF Library 9-28-04; 4-29-04)

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Givex Interfaces with the Geac POS system

Toronto-based Givex has integrated its gift card program with the Geac POS system, UltraTouch “V8.1.32,” and Southern DataComm’s “ProtoBase Software”. Givex is a card management company specializing in stored value transaction processing services for a wide range of industries including retail, hospitality, grocery, shopping centers and petroleum. Geac has 25 years of experience in enterprise information systems and point of sale systems for quick service and table service restaurants, hotels and resorts worldwide. Southern DataComm, Inc., developer of ProtoBase Software, is a software and services provider specializing in high-speed integrated transaction processing to deploy a flexible, comprehensive solution for multiple electronic payment types and transaction processors.

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Regis Corporation Expands AmEx U.S. Acceptance

Hair care specialist Regis Corporation announced plans to expand its American Express acceptance at all corporate-owned U.S. locations by the end of this year. Regis Corporation is the industry leader in the hair service business. As of December 31, 2004, the Company owned or franchised 10,412 hair salons, 91 hair restoration centers and 15 beauty schools operating under concepts such as Supercuts, jean Louis David, Vidal Sassoon, Regis Salons, MasterCuts, Trade Secret, SmartStyle, Cost Cutters and Hair Club for Men and Women. American Express Company is a diversified worldwide travel, network, and financial services provider founded in 1850.

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OTI’S EasyPark Transaction Fees Up 78%

On Track Innovations reports that its “EasyPark” parking payment system has reached more than 166,000 subscribers in 25 cities in Israel.
OTI says about 5,000 new “EasyPark” devices are being sold monthly, with
60,000 new “EasyPark” devices sold in 2004, an increase of 82% over the
33,000 devices sold in 2003. Transaction fees from “EasyPark” in 2004 were $325,000, up 78% from $183,000 collected in 2003. With “EasyPark,” drivers park their car, turn on the contactless in-vehicle parking device and display it in their window; when they return to
the car, they simply turn off the device.

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MasterCard Offers a 99-Cent Smart EMV Card

MasterCard has teamed with Australia’s Keycorp, Germany’s Infineon Technologies and a number of smart card manufacturers to deliver the $0.99 white card, based on the new “MULTOS” step/one platform. MasterCard first offered a $2.99 “MULTOS”-based smart card in December 2000. In late 2003, MasterCard was able to bring the price down to $1.99. The new lower-priced smart card contains “M/Chip,” the MasterCard EMV credit/debit application and the MasterCard “Open Data Storage” program, which allows for the secure storage and retrieval of personal data for loyalty, e-ticketing and more. Issuers also have the option of loading other value-added applications of their choice to the card. MasterCard currently has more than 233 million smart cards issued worldwide. About 50% of these smart cards carry EMV chips. Also, more than half of these smart cards carry value-added applications such as loyalty, digital ID, e-ticketing, e-coupons and personal data storage. (CF Library 4-8-02; 3-17-03)

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