California is Now 100% EBT for Food Stamps

All of California’s 58 counties have now implemented the EBT debit card system for their entire food stamp coupon program. In 51 of the 58 counties recipients also receive cash aid via the EBT card. For those receiving cash aid, the EBT card can be used in a number of department stores including Wal-Mart and Target, and, in some counties, including Alameda, Los Angeles and Sacramento, at farmers markets. Furthermore, the United States Postal Service is now accepting the EBT card statewide, allowing cash aid recipients to purchase money orders, stamps and other postal products. The state has approximately 700,000 households receiving food stamps. About 16,400 retailers and 25,000 ATMs participate in the EBT system statewide.

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MGM MIRAGE VISA Cashs-In Next Month

MGM MIRAGE and Bank One/Chase this morning confirmed plans to roll-out a new co-branded VISA card in August that enables cardholders to earn rewards that can be used at any of the seven participating MGM MIRAGE resorts and casinos. Under the program, similar to the “Trump Rewards VISA” launched three months ago, cardholders earn two points for every dollar spent on card purchases at MGM MIRAGE properties and one point for every dollar spent elsewhere. Every time cardholder accumulate 2,500 points, they will earn a $25 “Reward Certificate” that can be redeemed at participating MGM MIRAGE resorts and casinos for items such as hotel accommodations, dining experiences and show tickets. The rewards cannot be used for gaming. Consumers who pre-register will also receive 1,500 rewards points after their first card purchase. In April, Donald Trump’s enterprise inked a deal with Bank One for a co-branded VISA card. The new “Trump Rewards VISA” offers a 1% rebate on all purchases, and a 2% rebate on purchases at Trump casinos. Every time cardholders accumulate 2,500 points, they will automatically receive a $25 “Reward Certificate” that can be used for either purchases at Trump property owned restaurants, gift shops or toward hotel stays. In December, Caesars Entertainment launched a co-branded credit card that offers “comp dollars” as a cardholder reward. The new “Caesars Entertainment MasterCard,” issued by Juniper Bank, offers cardholders a one percent “comp dollar” credit for all purchase transactions, plus 10 bonus “comp dollars” the first time they use the card. The “comp dollars” earned with the new card can be used to pay for hotel rooms, dining, show tickets, spa services, golf tee times and other amenities at 15 domestic casino resorts. Participating resorts and casinos in the MGM MIRAGE program include the Bellagio, MGM Grand Las Vegas, The Mirage, Treasure Island, New York ‘ New York, Beau Rivage in Biloxi, Miss. and MGM Grand Detroit. (CF Library 12/9/03; 4/2/04)

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Checkmate Installs Qxpress Terminals

UT-based Q Comm International announced that Checkmate has installed its “Qxpress” terminals in all of their retail locations in seven states. Checkmate customers now have the ability to purchase prepaid wireless minutes, prepaid long distance, dial tone, Internet, MasterCard and other prepaid services quickly and easily at any location. 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. Checkmate provides financial services to allow customers to receive immediate cash for unexpected bills, car repairs, vacations, medical emergencies, or other situations where financial obligations need to be met between paydays.

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UAL’s Loyalty Card Offers Free Fine Wine

United Airlines new “Ameniti” high-end loyalty card is giving away a $77 bottle of fine wine or three bottles of rare beer valued at $62 to cardholders via a new partnership with The Exclusive Clubs of Beverage Bistro. The selections in these elite clubs are all carefully chosen by esteemed experts in their fields, and you won’t find any of the featured items in your local store. The Ameniti luxury travel program is owned and operated by UAL Loyalty Services, Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of UAL Corp. United, its subsidiaries, affiliates and agents are not responsible for any products and services of other participating companies or partners.

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Frontier Systems Introduces transitfive

Holland, MI-based Frontier Systems has launched a new payment processing application that enables merchants to offer expanded payment types and internal payment systems like house charge accounts, positive or negative check files, loyalty databases, and specialized shopper payment options. Merchants of any size will have access to and benefit from systems that only the big retailers used to be able to afford. By using technology to their advantage, merchants can accept payment types from any originating source, and route to any financial institution allowing flexibility to choose an institution with better rates. Frontier Systems, LLC’s offices are located in Holland, Michigan, serving local merchants to major national retail chains.

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Encore Lands Financing Deal with Chase

San Diego-based charge-off collection specialist, Encore Capital Group, has closed on a new $75 million syndicated, three-year revolving credit facility with J.P. Morgan Chase. Encore expects the new facility to be used, at the Company’s option, during the second half of 2004, to fund portfolio purchases of non-credit card paper classes, and, upon expiration of the Company’s Secured Financing Facility on December 31, 2004, to fund all types of portfolio purchases, including credit card receivables. Although the Company will continue to pay contingent interest related to collections on portfolios purchased under the Secured Financing Facility until such time as the collections on those portfolios are exhausted, the Company anticipates that contingent interest payments will decline rapidly beginning in 2005. Encore Capital Group, Inc. is an accounts receivable management firm that specializes in purchasing charged-off and defaulted consumer debt.

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VeriFone Tops 100,000 Terminals in Greece

Alpha Bank of Greece has ordered 1,300 VeriFone “Omni 3750” terminals to be installed for the upcoming Olympics. VeriFone is also kicking off a new advertising campaign focusing on the 30,000 locations in Greece where VeriFone POS terminals are installed. The latest contract brings the total number of VeriFone terminals used by Alpha Bank, the second largest bank in Greece, to more than 16,000. VeriFone has sold more than 30,000 “Omni 3750” terminals in the Greek market since its launch, and has more than 100,000 VeriFone terminals currently in operation in Greece today.

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AccesRail Accepts UATP for Rail Fare

AccesRail, a general sales agent for rail carriers based in Quebec is a new Universal Air Travel Plan Merchant, now accepting UATP as a form of payment for rail fare. AccesRail settles all UATP transactions through UATP Settlement Services. USS is UATP’s weekly settlement system also used by travel agencies and non-clearing house carriers to process UATP transactions. AccesRail was created to provide railways with an interface to GDS companies using standard airline systems. Its objective is to allow rail carriers to distribute their product using the global GDS and BSP systems originally created for the airline industry. UATP accounts are actively issued by 15 member airlines and accepted as a form of payment for corporate business travel by more than 200 airlines worldwide.

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VISA International Cardholders Contribute 26% of Tourism

VISA reports that its international cardholders spent Bht 84,300 million in Thailand, representing 26% of Thailand’s total tourism spend. According to latest official published data, Bht 329,000 million was spent by tourists in Thailand during 2002. This shows for every Bht 1,000 spent in Thailand by tourists, Bht 260 was spent using a VISA card, up from Bht 170 in 1999. According to a VISA-commissioned study by Network Economics Consulting Group, the top spenders in Thailand in 2003 were cardholders from the USA who spent Bht 15,300 million, the United Kingdom (Bht 12,800 million), Japan (Bht 9,300 million), Hong Kong (Bht 4,300 million) and Sweden (Bht 4,200 million). Together these five visitor sources accounted for 52% of total international VISA spend in Thailand.

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50MM Multi-Application Smart Cards to be Shipped in 2008

A new study on the global smart card IC market has found that the industry generated revenue totaling $1.40 billion in 2003 with total market revenue expected to reach $2.38 billion in 2007. The Frost & Sullivan study found that card issuers’ misgiving about uncertain return on investment on multi-application smart cards is one of the primary barriers to its greater deployment. To build demand, smart card manufacturers and open platform consortium need to establish a viable business case for multi-application cards. Frost & Sullivan found that this market generated unit shipment of 220 million for “JavaCard” and 8.3 million for “MULTOS” in 2003. Total market unit shipment is expected to reach 867 million and 46.8 million for “JavaCard” and “MULTOS,” respectively, in 2008.

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ICMA Holds its First Workshop in Asia

The International Card Manufacturers Association will hold its first-ever educational workshop in Asia. The “Innovative Solutions for Plastic Card Production” workshop will be held August 31 – September 1, at the Grand Hyatt Seoul, Korea. The conference will be
co-hosted by ICMA’s president, T.K. Choi, CEO of KBC Corporation, and Victor Chan, VP of business development for NBS Technologies. Serving as Keynote Speaker will be Mr. Ho Gun Lee, CEO of BC Card Co. and Chairman of KEPIA (Korea Electronic Payment Industry Association), who will explore standardization issues in his session, “One Card, One Asia.”

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