White Paper Released to Guide CUs on Card Portfolios

Dallas-based TNB Card Services has produced a 17-page white paper for credit unions to use in evaluating whether or not to sell their credit card portfolios. Titled “Selling or Holding: A Best Practices Approach to Deciding the Future of a Credit Union Credit Card Portfolio,” the guide is available in paper and electronic versions to help credit unions make the important decisions regarding their card programs. TNB Card Services, owned and directed by credit unions since 1976, provides full-service credit and debit card processing, as well as an agent issuing solution for credit unions nationwide.

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BLACK MASTERCARD

Hyundai Card has launched a new super MasterCard that carries an annual fee of more than one million won, or about US$1,000, and offers a credit line of 100 million won per month, or nearly US$100,000. “the Black” card will be limited to 9,999 cardholders with each VIP cardholder being reviewed and approved by top management. Card benefits include free first class seats on Asiana Airlines, if available, and a 25% discount on some five-star hotels. Hyundai Card has targeted the upper middle class of consumers in the country. It offers MasterCard and Diners Club products.

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AmEx to Offer Health Care Benefits via OPEN Cards

UnitedHealthcare and American Express have inked a joint marketing agreement to offer some health care products at discounted prices to AmEx business cardholders. Business cardholders in more than 30 states will also have access to preferred pricing on small group health insurance. Additionally, business cardholders will be able to pay for their health care products using their AmEx cards – the first time employers have been able to use any credit card to pay for UnitedHealthcare products. UnitedHealth Group serves approximately 55 million people in the USA.

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Tipping Point for Paper Checks is Near

A new report suggests that the tipping point for paper checks is fast approaching and that a combination of electronic payment types are poised to replace the check as the primary vehicle for transferring funds between two commercial parties. The new TowerGroup report says that traditional cash management services offered by banks, with the check as the core component, no longer meets the needs of today’s corporate customers. With growing volumes of electronic payments being initiated, TowerGroup believes major corporations can no longer afford to handle non-check payments as exceptions to their internal payments and receipts processes. The report, titled “Checks in Decline: The Tipping Point in Electronic Payments and Its Impact on US Cash Management,” also suggests that industry watchers who debate whether check imaging exchange will supplant with check conversions are missing the point that, over time, fewer corporate checks will be written in the first place.

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MARATHON VISA

The country’s leader in sports affinity credit cards has added a new card in conjunction with the “Mumbai Marathon” to promote physical fitness. Standard Chartered Bank India has launched the “Marathon VISA” which offers a free pair of running shoes to new cardholders and a chance to win a treadmill. The new card offers a free pair of Reebok “3D Runner Shoes” worth Rs2290. Cardholders spending at least Rs900 per month, for eight months on the card, can win a Reebok treadmill worth Rs 245,000. Standard Chartered is also offering an introductory rate of 0.99% per month, for the first six months, on balance transfers. The new card carries a one-time enrollment fee of Rs1599. However, supplementary cards are free for life. The card is available to residents of Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Bhopal, Bhubaneshwar, Chandigarh, Chennai, Cochin,
Coimbatore, Cuttack, Hyderabad, Indore, Jaipur, Kanpur, Kolkata,
Lucknow, Ludhiana, Mumbai, Mysore, New Delhi, Pune, Trivandrum, Vadodara
and Vizag.

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Concur Board Adds a Former AmEx Executive

WA-based Concur Technologies has named Jeff McCabe, a former American Express executive, to its Board of Directors. Jeff McCabe joined the Concur Board of Directors on January 21, 2005. Since March 2004, he has been involved in a wide range of entrepreneurial activities, including strategic consulting for businesses developing new products and services. Concur Technologies, Inc. is the world’s leading provider of business services that automate Corporate Expense Management.

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AmEx GNS Volume Rises 30% in 2004

Card dollar volume on American Express cards outside the U.S. rose nearly 23% in the fourth quarter, compared to a 15% gain for U.S. cards during the same period. The number of non-U.S. cards-in-force at year-end 2004 was 21 million, a 5% gain over the previous year. Card volume outside the U.S. was $32.1 billion for the fourth quarter, and $111.3 billion for the full year. AmEx says Global Network Services volumes rose in excess of 40% in the fourth quarter due to continued strong growth in non-U.S. partner volume and the addition of MBNA-related volumes in the U.S. For the year, GNS volume was up about 30%. During the fourth quarter, AmEx launched its first American Express-branded credit card in China, denominated in both local Chinese currency and U.S. dollars, through its network relationship with the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China. AmEx also supported the entry of Credomatic into the Mexican marketplace during 4Q/04 with the launch of American Express-branded credit cards in Guadalajara, Mexico, which included a co-branded card with Farmacias Guadalajara, one of Mexico’s largest drug and supermarket retailers. For complete details on American Express fourth quarter performance visit CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]).

[1]: http://www.carddata.com

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DRFS Becomes an ISO/MSP of First PREMIER

Los Angeles-based Direct Response Financial Services has been approved as an ISO/MSP by First PREMIER Bank to issue stored value debit cards through the MasterCard and Maestro network. Concur Technologies, Inc. is the world’s leading provider of business services that automate Corporate Expense Management. First PREMIER Bank, together with its sister organization PREMIER Bankcard, is headquartered in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Optimum Pay, Inc. was founded on the principle of offering a simpler, less-expensive alternative to traditional payment process methods such as paper invoices, credit cards, checks and cash.

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eCHEX and Trimfast Merger is Terminated

CA-based eCHEX, a stored value card specialist, has terminated its plans to be acquired by NJ-based Trimfast Group. eCHEX will continue with its business plan including the initiative to bring the eCHEX Stored Value card to 17 national markets. The initial rollout will target grocery and supermarket store outlets, primarily in Hispanic markets, with approximately 160,000 card packages, or 320,000 cards to be printed as part of the initial rollout. eCHEX, Inc., established and headquartered in Redwood City, California, is a Sales and Marketing organization with financial services and retail distribution relationships.

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KeyBank Launches a National Prepaid MC

Cleveland-based KeyBank and TX-based Answers, etc. have launched a prepaid MasterCard via independent financial service centers, such as neighborhood banks, grocery, check-cashing and convenience stores nationwide. The new “Zoomcard” will use TSYS Prepaid’s platform integrated with Answers’ “PowerCheck32” POS software. Sales, inventory control, loading and reloading are all embedded and tracked from the point of sale to the general ledger. A stand-alone system will also be introduced for non-“PowerCheck” customers. The “Zoomcard” is only available to residents of the USA but may offer money transfer capabilities later. Answers, etc. has developed check cashing and pay-day advance software and has more than 4,000 teller stations currently in place across the USA and Canada. TSYS formed New York City-based TSYS Prepaid following the acquisition of Clarity Payment Solutions in August. (CF Library 8/4/04)

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Fred Meyer Rewards Card is Launched

Kroger’s Fred Meyer multi-department stores has launched a new “Fred Meyer Rewards Card”, offering cash rebates, in its 129 stores in four western states. As an incentive to sign up, new Rewards Customers will receive 20 points the first time they use their Rewards Card. Fred Meyer Stores is based in Portland, Oregon and features 129 large multi-department stores in four western states that offer one-stop shopping for a wide range of food, apparel, and general merchandise products.

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Consumers are Okay with ARC Checks

A new survey has found that consumers are aware and comfortable with the Accounts Receivable check conversion application. The research conducted for NACHA also found that there were no concerns over checks clearing more quickly using ARC. Additionally, the study found that 4% of check writers have called their financial institutions in the past six months in reference to a check conversion payment compared to 3.2% in a previous study for NACHA. There were an estimated 1.25 billion consumer checks converted into ARC payments during 2004. At the current growth rate it may reach 2 billion payments this year.

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