AmEx Launches Ant Cards in Australia

National Australia Bank and American Express have teamed to launch a rewards credit card that offers ATM linkage to NAB checking and savings accounts throughout Australia. The new “National Ant American Express Card with Rewards” offers one point per dollar spent on eligible purchases, no cap on points, no points expiry while the account remains open, and the ability to redeem for Qantas frequent flyer points at a rate of one for one. NAB is also offering double points on purchases made through July 2005, according to today’s issue of CardFlash International. The “Ant Card” carries an annual fee of $99 and $148 for the “Gold Ant Card.” The interest rate for both cards is 17.50%. The new card will be offered via direct mail to a select number of National credit card customers first, with a wider marketing campaign planned for later in the year. The name “Ant Card” was originally derived from the acronym – “American Express National Team.” NAB says its marketing will draw upon linkages with “ants” and benefits that come with the “Ant Card” and the benefits become embedded in the product name.

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Q Comm Raises Cash and Buys a Canadian Firm

UT-based Q Comm International has completed a $2.4 million private placement and has acquired Point De Vente, a distributor of prepaid wireless products based in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Under the terms of the acquisition agreement, Point de Vente shareholders will receive 12,127 shares of restricted Q Comm common stock with an aggregate value of $50,000. Pointe de Vente will become a Q Comm subsidiary with their assets and liabilities assumed by Q Comm. Q Comm will also provide a cash infusion of approximately $400,000 to Point de Vente. Q Comm International provides proprietary prepaid transaction processing and information management systems that facilitate electronic recharge or distribution of prepaid products from service providers or their distributors to retail points of sale.

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AirPlus Aims for Corporate Travel Payments

Germany’s AirPlus International has added a corporate card to its arsenal of corporate travel payment solutions targeting the U.S. market. The “AirPlus Corporate MasterCard” will issued by GE Capital Financial. AirPlus already offers an UATP-based “AirPlus Company Account” worldwide. The “Company Account” provides detailed data including company, traveler and trip-specific information. All data generated through the use of an AirPlus payment product, including the new “AirPlus Corporate MasterCard,” is available to the client via the Web-based “AirPlus Information Manager.” Airplus says the addition of the new “Corporate MasterCard” enables U.S. companies to manage all corporate travel purchasing through a single provider worldwide. AirPlus also offers a “VISA Corporate Card” in the UK. The Company has a 30% market share in Europe in the business travel management business.

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Corillian Introduces a Phishing Detector

OR-based Corillian has introduced a patent-pending Web log analysis solution and methodology providing financial institutions with an way to proactively address current phishing threats. The new “Corillian Fraud Detection System” identifies phishing behaviors before they turn into full-fledged attacks on a bank. In addition to providing preemptive attack identification, the “Corillian Fraud Detection System” enables financial institutions to rapidly identify and respond to those account holders who may have fallen victim to the phishing scam. The solution provides information as to which customers have visited the phishing site, allowing the financial institutions to adjust the security measures around the potentially compromised bank account, and provides an opportunity to follow up with each customer, to educate them on the threat of phishing and discuss how they can protect themselves in the future.

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MoneyGram Beefs-Up its Express Pay Service

CO-based MoneyGram has renamed its “ExpressPayment” service as “Payment Tracker” and has beefed-up the urgent bill payment service. Payment Tracker has added advanced search features including wild card and date range searches; strong password controls, plus tracking and audit features; cancelled transactions and account number updates are now viewable in real-time; transaction origin information has been enhanced; and reports are downloadable via .csv or .xml formats. MoneyGram is a subsidiary of MoneyGram International, which was recently spun-off of Viad.

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BofA Card Profts More Than Double in Q2

Bank of America officially became the fourth largest bank credit card issuer during the second quarter thanks to its merger with Fleet and its strong marketing efforts. The issuer opened 1.5 million new credit card accounts during the quarter, and added over $16 billion in card outstandings from Fleet. Pre-tax credit card income more than doubled to $641 million for the quarter. Managed card outstandings increased to $51.99 billion, compared to $30.8 billion one-year ago. Second quarter charge-offs were 5.88%, compared to 5.08% in the prior quarter, and 5.74% one year ago. Managed 30+ day delinquency was 3.86%, compared to 3.75% in the first quarter, and 3.99% for 2Q/03. Managed 90+ day delinquency was 1.76%, compared to 1.81% in the first quarter, and 1.80% for 2Q/03. BofA continues to dominate online banking with more than 11.2 million users, achieving a 48% penetration rate among all customers with a checking account. BofA says customers using online banking are 27% more profitable than those who do not use it. For complete details on Bank of America’s 2Q/04 performance visit CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]).

BOFA CARD LOAN HISTORICAL
1Q/03 $29.1 billion
2Q/03: $30.8 billion
3Q/03: $33.6 billion
4Q/03: $36.6 billion
1Q/04: $37.3 billion
2Q/04: $52.0 billion
Source: CardData (www.carddata.com)

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

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NIH FCU Deploys Summit Card and ATM Modules

MD-based NIH FCU has deployed Summit Information System’s “Spectrum” core processing system including the on-line credit card module with rebates/courtesy pay and the ATM management module. Summit Information Systems, a unit of Fiserv, Inc., provides both in-house and hosted advanced technology solutions to more than 300 North American credit unions. NIH FCU, based in Rockville, Maryland, has more than $370 million in assets and serves more than 46,000 members. Fiserv, Inc. provides industry leading information management systems and services to the financial industry, including transaction processing, outsourcing, business process outsourcing and software and systems solutions.

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Ultima Card Lands a Distribution Deal

American Card Services has inked an agreement with Empire Distributors for distribution of ACS’ proprietary stored value “Ultima Card.” Empire Distributors, with a customer base of approximately 7,500 locations, is one of the largest wholesale distributors of wine, spirits, beer and bar beverages in the southeastern United States. The distribution program will center on Empire Distributors’ 5,000 convenience and package store customers. American Card Services Inc. operates in the stored value card arena.

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An Online Merchant Collective Seeks Members

A Pebble Beach, CA startup, EmerchantsGroup, is seeking to build a collective of on-line merchants to obtain wholesale card processor pricing. EMG is also looking at parcel service rates. As group participation grows, shipping discounts are the next logical target. EMG membership is free and easily achieved by participating in the merchant account/credit card processing program.

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Major Thrift to Sell AmEx Prepaid Products

American Express has lined up the sixth largest thrift in the nation to distribute its prepaid card products. Astoria Federal will begin offering the “TravelFunds Card” and the “Gift Card” beginning today to its 700,000 customers via 86 branches in the northeast. The thrift will also offer AmEx “Travelers Cheques,” “Cheques For Two,” and “Gift Cheques.” Last month, AmEx signed a deal with the AARP to offer its prepaid “TravelFunds Card” to the AARP’s 35 million members. AmEx launched the TravelFunds Card” in October, 2003. The card is available in U.S. Dollar, Euro and British Pound Sterling, enabling cardholders to lock in exchange rates. The AmEx “Gift Card” was launched in October, 2002. The card is embossed with the recipient’s name and is available in amounts from $25 to $500. (CF Library 9/25/02;10/11/02;10/2/03;6/9/04)

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AmEx Sued in Calif Over Statement Mailing

A lawsuit, seeking class action status, has been filed in Los Angeles against American Express for allegedly sending statements out late. The suit contends that AmEx sent monthly statements about a week into the 20-day grace period. The lawsuit also claims that AmEx hide the practice by mailing the bills in envelopes without postmarks. The suit was filed on behalf of cardholder Jerome Pomerance charging American Express and American Express Centurion Bank of Utah with unfair business practices and breach of contract and good faith and fair dealing.

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LIVING PLUS CARD

JCB has launched a trial in the Kansai area to test a new credit card that is designed to incent and reward consumers for charging public utilities. The “JCB Living Plus Card” offers payment options for Kansai Electric Power and Osaka Gas along with major telecommunications service providers including NTT DoCoMo and KDDI, and pay-TV providers WOWOW and Sky Perfect TV. JCB has established a dedicated customer support unit, the “Living Support Desk,” to help customers with the process of converting these expenses to credit card payment. Applications for the new card product will only be accepted through the end of this year.
JCB says Kansai is an area where the infrastructure for credit card payment for public utilities is well established, but where credit card usage by consumers is low compared to other areas in Japan.

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