VISA USA Launches the F.A.M.E. Network

VISA USA has launched the “Financial Advice and Money Experience” network, featuring celebrities offering advice, personal anecdotes and philosophies on money management. http://www.practicalmoneyskills.com will include primetime television personalities such as Jane Kaczmarek (Lois from FOX’s “Malcolm in the Middle”), Cheryl Hines (Cheryl David from HBO’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm”) and Jasmine Guy (Roxy from Showtime’s “Dead Like Me”). The Practical Money Skills for Life curriculum is teacher tested and teacher approved. At the 2001 National Education Association Expo, the program was put before teachers to evaluate and grade. Visa is the world’s leading payment brand and largest consumer payment system, enabling banks to provide their consumer and merchant customers with a wide variety of payment alternatives.

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AmEx Launches The Housewarming Gift Card

American Express has launched a consumer transaction closing gift for the real estate industry. The new “The Housewarming Gift Card, Gold Edition” will be available to the real estate, homebuilding and mortgage industries in January. Almost 180 select merchants will accept this stored value card including home furnishing related names such as Williams-Sonoma, Pier 1, Crate & Barrel, Restoration Hardware, Macy’s, Pottery Barn and Linens & Things. The new card is personalized with the recipient’s name embossed and has a unique AmEx account number. Additional real estate industry specific, value-added solutions are also available to card purchasers, including co-branded cards and packaging, fulfillment, and built-in customer satisfaction surveys. A prepaid $50 “American Express Gasoline Card” will be awarded to every new real estate related business that opens and funds a new account via a special Web site through December 31st.

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Less Credit – More Cash – This Christmas

A new survey shows that 28% of Americans plan to use less credit than a year ago to buy holiday gifts, down sharply from 38% who planned to reduce credit usage in 2003. The latest “Cambridge Consumer Credit Index” also showed that 38% of consumers say they will pay for holiday gifts with cash or checks, up from 29% who did not use credit cards for gifts in 2003. Six out of ten say they expect pay off their balances in full, up slightly from 60% in 2003. About one-third expect to carry a balance on the credit cards for more than a month, down from 36% a year ago. Nearly 6% plan to pay off some cards and carry balances on others, up from 4% a year ago.

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VeriFone to Acquire GO Software for $13MM

VeriFone has signed a definitive agreement to acquire the assets of Return On Investment Corporation’s GO Software business. VeriFone will pay $13 million in cash on closing and up to $2 million in contingent consideration, linked to the future business performance through June 2006. More than 150,000 businesses use GO Software’s solutions to process payments. The firm also provides the payment engine behind thousands of retail store systems running integrated point-of-sale solutions. VeriFone says the acquisition is part if its strategy to expand its payment systems footprint into other integrated point-of-sale environments.

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E-Payments Rise 13% as Checks Sink 4% Annually

The Fed yesterday reported that in 2003 there were 36.7 billion check payments made in the USA, down 12.4% from the 41.9 billion reported for 2000. However, there were 44.5 billion electronic payments made in 2003, up 45.4% from the 30.6 billion reported for 2000. The decline in the number of checks paid from 41.9 billion transactions to 36.7 billion reflects an annual average rate of decline of 4.3 percent from 2000 to 2003. As for electronic forms of payment, the increase from 30.6 billion to 44.5 billion reflects an average annual rate of increase of 13.2% for the same period. According to the Depository Institutions Payments Study, the 36.7 billion checks paid in 2003 had a total value of about $39.3 trillion. The Electronic Payment Instruments Study revealed that the 44.5 billion electronic payments had a dollar value of $27.4 trillion in 2003.

Payments in the U.S.A. 2000-2003
PAYMENT TYPE NUMBER VALUE GROWTH
Checks: 36.7 billion $39.3 trillion -4.3%
Credit Cards: 19.0 billion $1.7 trillion +6.7%
ACH: 9.1 billion $25.1 trillion +13.4%
Debit Cards: 15.6 billion $0.6 trillion +23.5%
Source: 2004 Federal Reserve Payments Study

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Friendly Ice Cream to Use Trintech’s ReconNET

Friendly Ice Cream has selected Trintech’s “ReconNET” to automate the verification and reconciliation of its credit card, bank deposits and gift card transactions for its 358 company-owned restaurants. The installation of ReconNET will enable the company to streamline its daily reconciliation processes, reduce costs and gain greater reporting and financial controls. Friendly Ice Cream Corporation is a vertically integrated restaurant company serving signature sandwiches, entrees and ice cream desserts in a friendly, family environment in over 530 company and franchised restaurants throughout the Northeast. Trintech Funds Management Systems (FMS), a division of Trintech Group, provides comprehensive, industry-leading solutions that optimize enterprise funds management including the ReconNET reconciliation product suite, Bank Fee Analysis, and DataFlow transaction data network and services.

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SCM Microsystems Hires its First COO

SCM Microsystems has hired Ingo Zankel, formerly with Giesecke & Devrient, as COO, effective January 1st. Zankel, 42, will be responsible for product industrialization, engineering and supply chain management (purchasing, production and logisitics). He will play a key role in managing and coordinating SCM’s development efforts and manufacturing operations with the aim of optimizing efficiency, quality, time to market and cost-competitiveness. SCM Microsystems is a leading supplier of solutions that open the Digital World by enabling people to securely access digital content and services.

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J. Crew Renews Store Card Contract with ADS

Alliance Data Systems has signed a seven-year renewal agreement to provide private label credit card services for J. Crew. Alliance will provide J. Crew with a comprehensive set of services, including customer service functions, account acquisition and activation, receivables funding, card authorization, private label credit card issuance, statement generation, remittance processing, and marketing and loyalty services. Alliance Data Systems is a leading provider of transaction services, credit services and marketing services. J. Crew Group, Inc. is a leading retailer of men’s and women’s apparel, shoes and accessories.

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November Online Spending Rise 19% Over 03

Online consumers spent $8.8 billion overall, excluding travel, in November, marking a 19% jump over last year. The 2004 figure represents a 62% increase from the $5.5 billion that consumers spent online during the 2002 holiday season. Goldman Sachs, Harris Interactive, and Nielsen//NetRatings’ “Holiday eSpending Report” also revealed that 36% of consumers purchased items online because prices were lower on the Web, while 34% purchased gifts online due to the wider selection of products. Thirty-three percent of consumers said they bought online, because they preferred to avoid the crowds in stores. As of the end of November, 17% of consumers indicated that they finished holiday shopping, according to the “eSpending” report.

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Second Shopping Weekend Tops Black Friday Weekend

MasterCard reported yesterday that global transaction volume for the second shopping weekend of the holiday season was up nearly 16% and exceeded the Black Friday weekend. Based on MasterCard’s “Banknet” there were 64.6 million authorizations for the second holiday shopping weekend, as compared to 55.8 million for the same period in 2003. This compares to 64.2 million over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. On “Black Friday” MasterCard processed over 35.1 million transactions, a 10.1% growth over the 31.8 million authorization transactions it handled on the same day in 2003.

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Wells Fargo and ICICI Launch a US Remittance Service

ICICI Bank has teamed with Wells Fargo to launch a
new remittance service that allows customers in the U.S.A. to send up to US$3,000 a day from their U.S. accounts to accounts in India for $8.00 per transaction. Partnering with ICICI Bank Limited allows Wells Fargo customers’ beneficiaries to access a remittance distribution channel of 470 banking stores and 1790 ATMs in India. The U.S.- India remittance product is Wells Fargo’s third such international remittance product launch in the last nine years, and the second into the Asia-Pacific region. Wells Fargo recently announced its launch of the
International ATM Remittance Account to the Philippines.

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