Maestro Passes 500MM Card Milestone

MasterCard yesterday reported that its “Maestro” online debit program crossed the 500+ million cards-in-force milestone during the first quarter, a 40% jump over the first quarter of 2001. “Maestro” is now accepted at over 10 million merchant terminals in 93 countries, with almost 1.5 million merchant locations in the USA. At the end of March, MasterCard had 524 million cards worldwide carrying the “Maestro” brand, with $329 billion in gross dollar volume for the first quarter. Europe continued to be the largest cardholder base for “Maestro” with 242.3 million cards, a 7% increase over the same period in 2003. GDV for online debit activity in the region for the first quarter was $261.6 billion. The number of “Maestro” cards issued in Asia/Pacific was 143.9 million with GDV of $43.1 billion for the first quarter. In Latin America, “Maestro” card numbers doubled to 68.3 million cards, compared to the end of the first quarter in 2003. GDV for online debit activity in the region for the first quarter was $9.5 billion. The South Asia, Middle East and Africa region also experienced exceptional card growth with a 40.1% increase to 22.5 million cards at the end of the first quarter, compared to the end of the first quarter of 2003. GDV for online debit activity in the region for the first quarter of 2004 was $14.8 billion.

MAESTRO CARD HISTORICAL
1Q/01: 374 million
1Q/02: 433 million
1Q/03: 466 million
1Q/04: 524 million
Source: CardFlash International

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Wells Cuts Money Transfer Fees by 20%

Wells Fargo announced a 20% fee reduction for sending remittances to Mexico from the USA through its “InterCuenta Express” product. Effective July 1, the transfer fee will be lowered from $10 to $8, with a transfer limit of $3,000 per business day. Wells Fargo “Gold Pack” customers will also receive an additional $2 discount per transfer. Wells also recently increased the daily transfer limit from $1,000 to $3,000. “InterCuenta Express” allows customers to send money from their Wells Fargo account directly to beneficiary accounts in Mexico at BBVA Bancomer and HSBC Mexico. The service was created in 1995. Earlier this month, Wells Fargo announced a partnership with HSBC Mexico to create the largest consumer remittance distribution network via banking outlets in Mexico. The new HSBC partnership, together with Wells Fargo’s BBVA-Bancomer partnership in Mexico, creates a combined distribution channel of over 3,000 banking stores and 8,200 ATMs in Mexico.

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Peppercoin Powers Low Dollar Transactions

MA-based Peppercoin has released the latest version of its low-dollar value payments solution. The new “Peppercoin 2.0” includes support for physical POS transactions. Consumers can use their credit cards to make purchases with the merchant, with no specialized account pre-enrollment required. “Peppercoin 2.0” also provides merchants with an online customer care system that helps reduce customer service costs. Incredible Technologies, the country’s largest manufacturer of coin-operated video games and the makers of the “Golden Tee Golf” game, has selected “Peppercoin 2.0” to process credit card transactions in their future lineup of video games with online capabilities. With this technology, IT becomes the first major coin-op amusement vendor to enable credit card transactions on their machines. Last year, consumers spent more than $350 million playing “Golden Tee Golf” on over 27,000 online machines. Peppercoin says the market for low-priced digital content online has been validated by services such as Apple “iTunes,” but profitability remains a challenge. At the physical point of sale, most small payments, such as for video games and vending machines, have been cash-based–as the transaction processing costs on a 25-cent game or $1 purchase have been prohibitive. Further squeezing profit margins, a typical “live” customer service inquiry costs a company at least $5-10 per incident.

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TNB Acquires Four More CU Portfolios

Dallas-based TNB Card Services has purchased the programs of four credit unions in four states, and will convert all of these organizations’ portfolios in the next few months. Since launching its agent issuing business a year ago, more than 30 credit unions have either moved their existing card portfolios to TNB management or have begun issuing cards for the first time through TNB. OCHA Credit Union in California, A/C Credit Union in Ohio, Park City Credit Union in Wisconsin, and APP Federal Credit Union in Florida will all convert their current card portfolios to TNB over the next several months. TNB Card Services provides full-service credit and debit card processing, as well as an agent issuing solution for credit unions nationwide. The Company serves more than 400 credit unions and manages more than one million cards.

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