High Phishing Response Raises Security Concerns

A new survey by APACS has found that nearly half a million Brits indicated they would automatically respond to an e-mail, supposedly from their bank, asking them to click on a link and re-enter their security details. The likely 4% response rate to a phishing and Trojan attack is about twice the rate of the USA. APACS also found that only 28% would
check the veracity of such an e-mail with their bank first, while 65%
would just ignore it. To educate consumers, APACS launched a one-stop consumer and SME advice site, www.banksafeonline.org.uk, to help Internet users protect themselves from online scams and threats. There are 14 million people banking online in the UK today.

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VISA Says AmEx has a Product not Access Problem

VISA says Monday’s ruling doesn’t change the fact that American Express still faces the problem it has always faced: consumers who want an American Express card, despite being accepted at millions fewer merchant locations than VISA worldwide, either already have one, or know how to get one. VISA says access to the market has never been American Express’ problem. VISA insists AmEx has a product problem. Two weeks ago VISA’s CEO said VISA is competing with cash and checks, while everyone else, particularly AmEx, is competing with VISA.

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John Hancock Embraces Credit Card Acceptance

John Hancock has become the only top-five carrier to offer a credit card payment option for its long-term care insurance. Starting now, policyholders can charge insurance premiums to MasterCard or Visa credit cards. This payment option is applicable to Hancock’s Custom Care II and Essential Care II insurance products. Custom Care II features options that enable those with insurance to alter their comprehensive coverage. Essential Care II provides care protection over a long-term without adding extra costs to the features of the insurance. John Hancock is a leading provider of long-term care insurance and has over 800,000 clients as well as $1.1 billion of in-force premium. John Hancock Financial Services, Inc., is a subsidiary of Manulife Financial Corporation and is one of the nation’s largest life insurance companies. Manulife Financial is a leading financial services group based out of Canada. The company serves millions of customers in 19 countries and territories around the world.

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Lipman Acquires a Smart Card Systems Specialist

Rosh Haayin-based payment card manufacturer, Lipman, has acquired privately-held, UK-based Dione Plc for US$69 million. In addition, Lipman will pay up to US$33.4 million to Dione if certain financial targets are met in 2005 and 2006. Dione is a supplier of smart card-based payment systems with applications and managed services, posting revenues for the first nine months of this year of approximately US$46 million. Dione is expected to provide Lipman with new customer relationships that would add critical mass to its U.K. presence. Lipman says the deal will provide an immediate presence in the South African and Finnish markets as well as provide an easier way to establish a presence in other European markets. Dione is owned by Tamares Capital Foundation, GE Equity and others. Lipman produces card terminals under the “NURIT” brand name.

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AmEx Seeks More Partners Noting its GNS Success

American Express declared Monday a historic day for the U.S. card payments industry as a new era of greater choice for consumers and financial institutions has begun. AmEx says its success outside the USA with issuing partnerships has produced more than 350 different card products and added more than 7.2 million bank-issued cards and more than three million new establishments to the AmEx merchant network. AmEx says it plans to add more partnerships with other issuers on a selective basis, ensuring they are a strategic fit for our brand and can drive more high-spending customers to the merchants on our network. AmEx says its objectives are to continue to have the strongest proprietary card business in the industry. AmEx says it considering bringing private legal action against VISA and MasterCard.

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JCB & Le Meridien Launch Another Promotion

JCB and Le Meridien Hotels & Resorts have launched their fourth promotion in a series of joint campaigns to encourage stays at Le Meridien. Through March 31st, 2005, JCB cardholders making a reservation at any hotel in the Le Meridien Hotels & Resorts group and paying with the JCB card may be eligible for a free night or free room upgrade for their stay, or for a chance to win a free stay at a Le Meridien Hotel or free travel package. While promotion of the campaign is targeted to cardholders residing in Japan, JCB cardholders worldwide are eligible for all prizes except the Kuala Lumpur travel package. Le Meridien has 130 luxury and upscale hotels in 56 countries worldwide.

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High-End Payment Cards Gear Up for an 05 Showdown

Yesterday’s U.S. Supreme Court decision will give way to a new battleground as the American Express and MBNA alliance takes shape and takes aim at high volume, affluent, cardholders in the USA. The forthcoming MBNA AmEx cards will compete head-to-head with VISA’s fast growing “VISA Signature” card and Citibank’s expanding “Diners Club/Carte Blanche MasterCards”. MBNA says it looks to complement its affinity marketing approach with the introduction of enhanced AmEx products targeted to its core high-spending affinity card members. MBNA believes many affluent customers will prefer the AmEx brand as being “better positioned to reflect their affinity interest.” MBNA has more than 5,000 affinity and co-branded programs worldwide, including most of the top professional groups such as doctors, lawyers, etc. MBNA also is skilled in the management of higher credit limits such as the “Quantum MasterCard,” a program offering credit limits of up to $250,000. AmEx cards have historically carried high annual fees for consumers and higher transaction fees for merchants. Additionally, this is the first time that a credit card network will issue a card directly as well as through a partnership, within the same market. Therefore, it is unlikely that yesterday’s U.S. Supreme Court action will spur any meaningful price competition to the benefit of consumers. It may ignite a perks war as cards issued through AmEx partnerships may use reward programs or other benefits to overcome lower merchant acceptance. The jury is still out on whether AmEx can successfully compete against itself.

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Cyota Combats Barclaycard Phishing

Barclays has become the first bank to to publicly
announce the use of an anti-phishing service. Barclays and
Barclaycard have selected and successfully deployed Cyota’s “FraudAction” service to combat phishing attacks. Cyota’s service includes real-time detection of phishing attacks, shutting down fraudulent sites as well as conducting forensic work on behalf of the bank, patent-pending counter-measures and more. The service is currently in use by four top-tier banks.

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EXS and GPN Renewal their Acquiring Contract

Electronic Exchange Systems has extended its relationship with Global Payments, Inc. by signing a multi-year agreement calling for a variety of acquiring solutions including authorization, capture, settlement and BIN sponsorship for credit, debit, and EBT payment card processing. Garry O’Neil, President and CEO of Electronic Exchange Systems, claims that a continued relationship with Global will allow Electronic Exchange to become a leader in customer service excellence. Electronic Exchange and Global Payments are chief suppliers and providers of transaction processing services.

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Discover Thanks the Court and Files a Lawsuit

Discover Financial Services said the decision by the U.S. Supreme Court is a victory for consumers, merchants and financial institutions. Discover also announced it has filed a lawsuit in federal court in New York seeking damages from VISA and MasterCard as compensation for harm caused by anticompetitive business practices of the two associations. The lawsuit was filed shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court denied the appeal. Discover says it is seeking triple damages for the harm that the VISA and MasterCard violations have caused Discover.

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Patterson Press Becomes Personix Nashville

Plastic card manufacturer, Patterson Press, a unit of Fiserv, has changed its name to Personix Nashville. Senior Vice President and General Manager of Personix, Steve Knapp, claims that the integration between Personix and Patterson Press is the result of the name change. Personix has strengthened Patterson Press with the installation of new pre-press, printing and finishing equipment, along with a web press. Personix is a leading company of plastic card manufacturing. 100 million cards were projected for 2004. Personix is a chief provider of business-critical communications to the financial services, healthcare, telecommunications and retail sectors. Fiserv, Inc. provides information management systems and services to the financial industry, serving over 15,000 clients worldwide.

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InfiCorp Buys a $3.3MM Maryland CU Portfolio

Atlanta-based InfiCorp has purchased the $3.3 million credit card portfolio of Prince George’s Employees Credit Union in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, with the assistance of NH-based Brookwood Capital. Prince George’s Credit Union reported 2,600 credit card accounts and $3.3 million in receivables as of June, 2004. Total estimated assets for the credit union is $73 million. Brookwood Capital provides services including brokerage, consulting, and advisory services to credit card issuers across the nation.

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