ICBC AMEX CARDS

The first American Express-branded card in China has been launched by the largest commercial bank in the country. The
Industrial and Commercial Bank of China is offering standard and gold card versions, that are denominated in both Reminbi and US dollar currencies. The new cards can be used both at ICBC’s merchants and the China Union Pay network of merchants throughout China, as well as American Express merchant locations worldwide. Beginning today, Chinese residents in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen can apply for the cards. The cards will be available in other cities across China in the coming months. The launch of the “ICBC American Express Card” comes nine months after American Express and ICBC inked their partnership in March this year.

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Mellon to Offer the MBI Benefits Card

Mellon has inked a deal with MBI to offer health plans and third party administrators a Mellon health savings account combined with the “MBI Benefits Card”. Mellon and MBI will offer health plans and third party administrators (TPA) a single source to establish HSAs as well as to process, track and transfer payments for these accounts. In addition, health plans, TPAs and employers can offer employees easy access to their HSA funds with the MBI Benefits Card. Mellon is one of the world’s leading providers of financial services for institutions, corporations and high net worth individuals, providing institutional asset management, mutual funds, private wealth management, asset servicing, human resources and investor solutions, and treasury services. MBI offers a consumer-directed benefits payment platform plus the country’s #1 employee benefits card — electronically accessing Flexible Spending Accounts, Health Reimbursement Arrangements, Health Savings Accounts, Transit/Parking Accounts and Dependent Care Accounts all on one card.

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Bombardier Learjet Gift Card Introduced

Bombardier Skyjet has launched the “Bombardier Learjet Gift Card” offering five hours of prepaid flight time. The Bombardier Learjet Gift Card from Bombardier Skyjet offers five hours of flight time in a Bombardier Learjet from any of 5,000 airports in the continental United States. The fortunate few who receive the Bombardier Learjet Gift Card will be treated to a bottle of champagne as part of their onboard catering along with complimentary limousine service. ombardier Skyjet offers the Premier Fleet private jet card program for frequent private jet travelers. Premier Fleet offers customers a choice of 25, 50 or 100 flight hours in a preferred size of aircraft, and guaranteed availability with a 12- hour advanced reservation.

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JetBlue Joins AmEx Membership Rewards Tomorrow

JetBlue’s entry into the American Express “Membership Rewards” programs gets underway tomorrow with a special promotion. The agreement with the Membership Rewards program from American Express marks JetBlue’s first-ever TrueBlue program partnership. JetBlue, named best domestic airline three years in a row by the readers of Conde Nast Traveler, joins a prestigious roster of 23 Membership Rewards airline partners. To celebrate the new relationship and thank their mutual customers, the partners are sending 50 winners of an earlier contest to the Bahamas for a two-day vacation for two. American Express Company is a diversified worldwide travel, network and financial services provider founded in 1850. JetBlue is a low-fare, low-cost passenger airline, which provides high-quality customer service.

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Merrill Lynch Cardholders Get a Private Jet Benefit

Marquis Jet has become the exclusive private aviation of the partner of the “MERRILL+” and “Merrill Lynch VISA Signature” card program. Under the partnership, cardholders who purchase a 25-hour “Marquis Jet” card will have their choice of either an additional free flight hour or a one-way aircraft upgrade. In addition, Marquis Jet will now be a participant in the Merrill Lynch rewards programs, allowing cardholders to redeem points toward private jet flight hours. “MERRILL+” and “VISA Signature” cardholders will be provided a full aviation consultation and needs-analysis upon contacting Marquis Jet. Merrill Lynch clients who express an interest in the program will also have an exclusive, one-time opportunity to purchase a one-way or roundtrip flight to experience the “Marquis Jet Card” program.

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Lipman USA Gets a New President and CEO

Lipman has named Robert Striano as its new President and CEO of Lipman USA, replacing Mony Zenou. Mr. Striano brings to Lipman an extensive background in management, sales and marketing in such industries as technology, consumer products and pharmaceuticals. Mr. Striano holds a B.S. in Marketing from Fordham University, and has participated in the Executive MBA programs in Financial Management at Columbia Business School and in Strategic Marketing at Harvard Business School. Lipman is a leading worldwide provider of electronic payment systems. Lipman develops, manufactures and markets a variety of handheld, wireless and landline POS terminals, electronic cash registers, retail ATM units, PIN pads and smart card readers, as well as integrated pin and smart card (“Chip & Pin”) solutions.

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Prepaid Calling Card Revenues to Decline Slightly

A new study has found that prepaid calling card revenues will decline for the next five years, shrinking to $3.3 billion annually. However, prepaid wireless revenues will expand at a compound annual growth rate in excess of 20%. The research by Boston-based ATLANTIC-ACM found that the prepaid calling card segment has matured and will experience a slight annualized decline of 1.3% through 2009. This year, domestic calling accounted for 39% of calling card revenues. By 2009, it will represent no more than 17%. ATLANTIC-ACM says the growth in prepaid wireless revenues will be generated from hybrid plans, which represented 51% of revenues in 2004 but will account for 68% of revenues by 2009. Hybrid plans are prepaid plans functioning with automatic replenishment facilitated via credit cards or checking accounts for monthly recurring payments but stop short of linking customers to the wireless provider by a contract.

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Commerce Bank Launches a Free and Boxed Gift Card

NJ-based Commerce Bank is unveiling a “VISA Gift Card” this Friday that is free of issuance fees. The new “Commerce VISA Gift Card” is an instant-issue card available in Commerce Bank’s more than 300 retail locations. The card is available in any whole dollar amount between $25 to $500. The red foil card is also elegantly wrapped in a signature red box and tied with a white satin ribbon. Commerce Bank has locations in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Delaware.

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OCC Cautions Consumers on Gift Card Fees

The OCC issued a consumer advisory yesterday on the terms and conditions that apply to gift cards. Some issuers, for example, deduct a monthly fee from the gift card or apply inactivity fees if the card has not been used for some period of time. Gift card holders may not realize that the value of their cards has been reduced until they use them for a purchase. The OCC charters, regulates and examines approximately 2,000 national banks and 51 federal branches of foreign banks in the U.S., accounting for more than 56 percent of the nation’s banking assets.

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Juniper Hires Euro RSCG 4D for its Cobrands

Euro RSCG 4D, formerly Devon Direct, has been selected by Juniper Bank to develop direct marketing creative for the issuer’s cobrand programs. Juniper Bank has relationships with more than a dozen credit card affiliates, including Best Western, AirTran, Frontier, and Orbitz. The Wilmington, Delaware-based bank chose Euro RSCG 4D based on the agency’s experience and creative excellence in the financial marketplace. Euro RSCG 4D is the world’s largest direct and digital agency network, with unparalleled ability to drive brand experience, based on an intelligent approach to data that produces insight and accountable results.

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New NACHA Operating Rule Takes Effect Dec. 10th

A new NACHA operating rule governing third-party processing of ACH payments will take effect on December 10th. The new rule requires agreements that specifically bind third-parties to the “NACHA Operating Rules” when a third-party’s customer does not have such an agreement with the originating financial institution. It is a widespread practice in the ACH Network and other payment systems for third parties to process payments between companies and financial institutions. In the ACH Network this is commonly done by payroll processors with Direct Deposit, and by other service companies with consumer payments, such as bill payments. However, not every company that uses a third-party processor has an agreement with the ODFI that binds the company to the Rules; instead the company has an agreement with the third party. The new rule requires that, in such cases, the company’s agreement with the third party, and the third party’s agreement with the ODFI, specifically require adherence to the NACHA Operating Rules, among other responsibilities.

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