Beginning December 1st, consumers in 13 Western states will be able to obtain a free annual credit report from the three nationwide consumer reporting companies. The program will expand nationwide over a nine-month period. The free reports will be available from www.annualcreditreport.com, or via a toll-free number, or by mailing a standardized form to a post office box in Atlanta. The first 13 states include: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming. After September 1st, all U.S. consumers will be eligible to request a free report. Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion created the service to comply with the “Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act.”Details
Private bank Coutts has launched an upscale MasterCard with exclusive offers including a round-the-world trip by private jet, the chance to have one’s biography written by a top author, and hospitality packages for Wimbledon, Cannes Film Festival and the Monaco Grand Prix. The new purple “Coutts World MasterCard” also offers “AirMiles” and an array of concierge services. The card carries an annual fee of GBP350 that is waived if the cardholder charges at least GBP50,000 per year.
Coutts is an international private bank owned by The Royal Bank of Scotland Group. Coutts manages the wealth of 90,000 high net worth clients worldwide through a network of 50 offices globally.
San Francisco-based Kurant has partnered with E-Commerce Exchange Partner to integrate ECX’s virtual merchant application into Kurant’s “StoreSense” e-commerce solution. The integration enables merchants to easily obtain a merchant account and payment gateway. ECX will provide service, support, and billing of the merchant account and gateway to the merchant. Kurant Corporation is a provider of software that allows small businesses to conduct business online. StoreSense is a comprehensive e-commerce platform that enables companies to add commerce to a Web site or to create a Web Store that would include inventory management, supplier communication and integration with Quickbooks. E-Commerce Exchange offers speedy processing, enabling merchants to accept credit cards through its QuickCommerce or QuickCommerce Pro secure payment gateways in a matter of days.Details
A Colorado-based telemarketing firm has agreed to settle FTC charges that they deceived consumers in financial distress out of more than $200 each with offers for credit cards and promises to help them rebuild their credit. Defendants were charged for violating the Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR) by cheating consumers out of their money and for violating the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act along with FTC’s privacy rule by not notifying consumers of their privacy practices once they have collected personal financial data. The order bars the defendants from consciously assisting fraudulent telemarketers, prohibits them from misrepresentation, and contains a suspended judgment of $75,000 that the defendants will have to pay if evidence suggests that they have misrepresented their financial institution. The FTC will be monitoring the defendants’ compliance with the order.Details
MasterCard says its historical holiday data shows that the last Monday and Tuesday in November (Nov 29&30), and the first Monday and Tuesday in December (Dec 6&7) are ideal days to shop between Thanksgiving and Christmas. MasterCard also says it records the least number of transactions per hour between the hours of 7 and 10 a.m. on those days. The busiest day of the year most likely will occur on Dec. 23 and the busiest hour most likely will be from 2 to 3 p.m. CDT on Christmas Eve. MasterCard also noted that the two Saturdays before Christmas tend to produce more volume than “Black Friday.Details
Metris Companies has increased its liquidity and has made an early payment on a $300 million term loan. During the third quarter Metris returned to profitability after a $70 million loss in the prior quarter. The issuer has gathered financial strength with positive trends in delinquencies, default rates, and payment rates. The managed net charge-off rate for the third quarter was 14.6%, compared to 17.0% in the previous quarter, and 22.9% for 3Q/03. The managed delinquency rate was 9.7% as of September 30th, compared to 9.4% at the end of the second quarter, and 11.1% one-year ago. The Company’s managed credit card loans for 3Q/04 were $6.8 billion, compared to $7.1 billion in 2Q/04, and $8.1 billion as of December 31, 2003. For complete details on Metris’ third quarter results visit CardData ([www.carddata.com])
Bank credit card pre-tax profits, earned since 2000, have now exceeded the profits produced in all of the 1990s. During the past four years U.S. card issuers have earned more than $102 billion in profits, compared to $101 billion for all of the 1990s, and $25 billion for all of 1980s. The profits in the 2000s were primarily driven by lower funding costs and higher penalty pricing. While profits have increased fifteen-fold since 1985, the bank credit card industry went through a rocky period in 1980 and 1981 when a negative return was produced. During 1980 card issuers lost more than $100 million as funding costs went through the roof.
Bank Credit Card Annual Pre-Tax Profits*
(VISA, MasterCard, Discover, American Express)
($ billions, except as noted)
1980 (-$125 million)
1985 $ 2.1 billion
1990 $ 6.4 billion
1995 $12.9 billion
2000 $20.5 billion
2003 $29.8 billion
*excludes debit cards and private label credit cards
SOURCE: CardData (www.carddata.com)
American Express has launched a month-long online shopping promotion for all its U.S. consumer cardholders. The new “My WishList” program offers cardholders the opportunity to buy limited quantity items as well as hundreds of other premium holiday values in unlimited quantities from 300 local and national merchants. “My WishList” showcases a special $4 million collection of this season’s hottest holiday items and experiences at special prices. For example, BMW Roadsters at $5,000 and Vespa scooters at $800. Additionally, the “My WishList” site contains more than 18,000 “Wish Certificates,” which offer special savings of up to 25% from national brand merchants that take AmEx. “My WishList” is the holiday version of “American Express Selects” program.Details
Lightbridge’s Authorize.Net has certified its IP payment gateway on Lynk’s processing platform. Authorize.Net will now be available to Lynk’s merchant customers including financial institutions and Independent Sales Organizations. Authorize.Net is a provider of secure and reliable Internet Protocol based payment gateway solutions that allow merchants to authorize, settle, and manage electronic transactions anytime, anywhere. Lightbridge Inc. is an analytics, decisioning, and e-commerce company trusted by businesses to manage their customer transactions. Lynk provides electronic payment processing services such as credit, debit, EBT, gift cards, customer loyalty cards, checks, and more.Details
While there is strong growth in purchase dollar volume for off-line or signature debit cards year-on-year, it ramped down a bit to 16% in the third quarter, compared to 20% in the second quarter, and 22% in the first quarter. VISA and MasterCard off-line debit cards racked up gross dollar volume of $174.3 billion in the third quarter, a 17% gain over 3Q/03. The number of signature debit accounts and cards maintained an annual growth rate of 11%. During the third quarter, VISA and MasterCard processed $115.0 billion in purchase volume, compared to $99.4 billion one-year ago. Gross transactions for the third quarter increased 16% to 3.6 billion. At the end of the third quarter, there were 214.8 million VISA- and MasterCard- branded signature debit cards in circulation in the USA, linked to 169.2 million accounts, according to CardData. Based on gross dollar volume, VISA’s share of the off-line debit card market is a solid 79%. For complete current and historical statistics on the U.S. debit card market visit CardData ([www.carddata.com]).
U.S. SIGNATURE DEBIT SNAPSHOT
3Q/03 3Q/04 Y/Y CHANGE
Gross Volume $148.9b $174.3b +17%
Purchase Volume $ 99.4b $115.0b +16%
Gross Transactions 3.11b 3.60b +16%
Total Accounts 152.7mm 169.2mm +11%
Total Cards 193.6mm 214.8mm +11%
Source: CardData (www.carddata.com)
FL-based Morgan Beaumont has signed a service agreement with Merrick Bank to issue stored value and debit cards. The agreement will enable Merrick Bank to offer financial programs in a retail environment and will enable Morgan Beaumont to obtain a Third Party Processor license with MasterCard. Morgan Beaumont is a chief provider of Stored Value and Debit Card Solutions designed for the sub-prime financial markets in the U.S. Merrick Bank offers credit programs that help consumers establish or rebuild their credit rating. The bank serves more than 550,000 cardholders and has roughly $500 million in assets.Details