E4X Names a New SVP/Sales and Marketing

NYC-based E4X, a multi currency services provider, has named Michael DeSimone, formerly with Travelex, Citibank, and Thomas Cook, as SVP/Sales and Marketing. Mr. DeSimone has over 17 years of experience with foreign exchange services and international payments. As the new SVP, he will lead the company’s sales and marketing strategy. DeSimone has worked closely with organizations such as Visa, JP Morgan Chase, Bank of New York, and the Royal Bank of Scotland prior to his role at E4X. E4X, Inc. is a provider of multi currency services that facilitates global business by minimizing the problems associated with currency conversion related to cross border sales and payments.

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Bhutan National Bank Signs JCB Acquiring License

Thimphu-based Bhutan National Bank has signed an agreement to become the first JCB acquiring licensee in Bhutan. JCB says 25% of foreign visitors to Bhutan are Japanese. With this agreement, the JCB brand will be phased in at all the bank’s merchants starting this month. With the addition of Bhutan, the JCB brand is now accepted in 190 countries and territories around the world. Its merchant network includes 11.7 million merchants. Bhutan is located on the southern slopes of the Himalayas.

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OneBridge Hires a Former ACI Sales Executive

Indianapolis-based card processor, OneBridge, has hired Spencer Lewis, formerly of ACI Worldwide, as VP/Sales. Lewis will spearhead the effort to create and strengthen the infrastructure required to support a sales organization focused on customers. He will be responsible for the development and management of sales objectives along with the delivery of innovative solutions to OneBridge clients and prospects. Lewis will also serve on the organization’s leadership team. He brings over 18 years of experience providing EFT solutions to financial institutions. OneBridge provides financial institutions with comprehensive card processing solutions to maximize credit and debit card programs.

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Bobcards to Introduce Tiered Interest Rates

Bank of Baroda’s Bobcards subsidiary is gearing up to introduce tiered interest rates on their credit cards. The move is in retaliation to recent rate reductions by ICICI Bank and Standard Chartered Bank. The new rates charged will be adjusted by the age of the card purchases. The lowest rate would apply to purchases up to 90 days old. The next higher rate will apply to the 90-120 day period, and the highest rate would apply to purchases over 120 days old. Bobcards’ current interest rate is 2.25% per month. Bobcards indicated the new tiered rates would be less than the current flat rate. Standard Chartered Bank recently cut its credit card interest rate to 1.99% per month. ICICI Bank also lowered its interest rate to 0.99% per month for its secured credit card.

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Vecchione Replaces Retiring Wright as MBNA CFO

MBNA Corporation has named Kenneth Vecchione as the new CFO effective September 30th. He currently serves and will continue to serve as CFO of MBNA America Bank. Vecchione succeeds Vernon Wright, who is retiring December 15th. Wright will continue as a director of MBNA America Bank and will advise MBNA. Vecchione joined MBNA America Bank in 1998 as division head of finance, responsible for accounting and tax, corporate and strategic planning, and financial operations, and financial planning.

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Slow Rewards Programs Experience High Attrition

Credit card reward programs that take a long time to accumulate points do not work well according to a new report. The research showed that 70% of cardholders leave a loyalty/rewards program due to the length of time it takes to build up points. Maritz Loyalty Marketing says the number jumps to 79% in the 18-24 age group. The Maritz Poll also found that customer defection resulted from other perceived problems with rewards programs, such as: “not being rewarded properly” (23%), “disliked the fee” (22%), “disliked the reward options” (20%), “program rules kept changing” (17%), “poor customer service” (16%) and “other programs seemed better” (18%). More than a quarter of this high-income cardholders left a rewards program because “another company’s program seemed better” or they didn’t like the reward options.

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OCC Concerned About Unfair Credit Card Practices

The OCC has issued an advisory citing concerns over what it calls unacceptable credit card practices that may constitute unfair or deceptive acts, potentially exposing a national bank to compliance issues. The regulator specifically listed as problem areas, inadequate disclosure of penalty pricing policies, promotion of unrealistic “up to” credit limits, and, insufficient disclosure of the limitations of promotional rates. The OCC said banks should disclose fully and prominently in promotional materials the circumstances under which the credit card agreement permits the bank to increase the consumer?s cost, or that the issuer can make the changes unilaterally. The OCC also said banks should not advertise maximum credit limits to sub-prime consumers when most applicants receive a significantly lower default credit line. The OCC also criticized sub-prime issuers who advertise the possible uses of the card when the initial available credit line is likely to be so limited that the advertised possible uses are substantially illusory. Additionally, the OCC said that banks need to disclose fully and prominently any material limitations on the applicability of promotional rates, and not make representations that create the impression that material limitations regarding the applicability of the promotional rate do not exist. The OCC also suggested that some issuers have not properly disclosed fees connected to promotional pricing.

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Sharenet Selects Fiserv EFT/CNS to Operate its ATMs

Liverpool, NY-based Sharenet, a local cooperative of 28 credit unions, has selected Fiserv EFT/CNS to operate its 61 ATMs. The agreement calls for Sharenet credit unions to select their own transaction processor. Sharenet provides surcharge-free access for members and the lowest surcharge fees for non-members of any ATMs in Central New York. Sharenet ATMs can be used by non-credit union ATM users to save on surcharge fees. Non-credit union ATM users can also join a participating credit union to enjoy fee-free access. Fiserv EFT/CNS serves 3,000 client endpoints across the nation. EFT/CNS operates over 16,500 ATMs, processes an estimated 360 million ATM and debit transactions per month, and is one of the largest electronic funds transfer processors in the U.S. Fiserv, Inc. is a provider of information management systems and services to the financial industry. It serves over 15,000 clients worldwide. Fiserv reported $2.7 billion in processing and services revenues for 2003.

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iPayment Adds 4,000 Merchants from an ISO Purchase

Nashville-based iPayment has acquired ISO Transaction Solutions. The deal adds approximately 4,000 small merchants and annual charge volume of approximately $500 million to iPayment’s portfolio. Last month, iPayment reported second quarter charge volume of nearly $3.2 billion, compared to $2.9 billion in the previous quarter, and $1.6 billion one-year ago. Second quarter revenues jumped by 65% to $89.4 million compared to $80 million for the first quarter, and $54 million for 2Q/03. For complete details on iPayment’s second quarter performance visit CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]).

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

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ATM USA Signs Processing Deal with Lynk Systems

Lynk Systems has inked a long-term processing agreement with ATM USA, an independent owner and operator of more than 1,400 ATMs, of which more than half are company-owned placements. The agreement calls for ATM USA to rely on Lynk’s full range of services including transaction processing via fully redundant, load-balanced data centers, comprehensive ATM monitoring, Web-based reporting, and terminal management. ATM USA, LLC (R) is one of the largest and fastest growing ATM distribution and service providers in the nation. Lynk is a full-service provider of electronic payment processing services and is considered to be the 6th-largest non-bank acquirer and the 9th largest merchant acquirer in the U.S. market. It is also the 3rd largest processor of ATMs in the U.S.

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AmEx/CFA to Study Credit Counseling Effectiveness

Washington, DC-based Consumers for Responsible Credit Solutions has taken on American Express and the Consumer Federation of America for conducting a study on the value of nonprofit credit counseling agencies to creditors. The CRCS says the study is being carried out by a creditor-sponsored research group. The CRCS says the solicitation sent out to credit counseling agencies indicates the American Express/CFA study will gauge the success of credit counseling as to how effective they are in getting consumers to pay back creditors. The solicitation states: “Effectiveness of counseling and financial education will be gauged by examining the creditworthiness profile of counseled clients at the time of the intake interview, and then subsequently over time, possibly for up to 2 or 3 years. In addition, for DMP clients, effectiveness will also be measured by repayment experience on the plan, and subsequent repayment behavior for those that leave the agency-administered DMP. Credit bureau data will be essential to support various measures of creditworthiness. A major credit reporting agency has agreed to cooperate in providing these data for clients in the sample.” AmEx and the CFA is offering up to $40,000 to agencies to participate.

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