UK Mobile Operators Seek an Open Mobile Terminal Platform

Mobile operators announced plans to define widely accepted requirements for an
open mobile terminal platform. The founding members of this initiative are mmO2, NTT DoCoMo, Orange, SMART Communications, Telefonica
Moviles, TIM (Telecom Italia Mobile), T-Mobile and Vodafone. These members have created a new organization based in London called: OMTP Limited.
The OMTP group aims to define those platform requirements necessary for
mobile devices to deliver openly available standardized application interfaces
that will provide customers with a more consistent and improved user
experience across different devices, whilst also enabling individual operators
and manufacturers to customize and differentiate their offering. As a technology neutral organization, all technology vendors will be free
to contribute to and support OMTP requirements and to provide OMTP compliant
products.

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Euronet to Provide ATM/POS Switch for Four Banks

Euronet Worldwide announced a software agreement that will create a national switch in Suriname, enabling four of the largest banks of the country to share ATMs and POS devices. The four banks — DE SURINAAMSCHE BANK N.V. (DSB BANK); HAKRINBANK N.V.; RBTT BANK (SURINAME) N.V.; and SURINAAMSE POSTSPAARBANK — are partnering to start the BANKING NETWORK SURINAME N.V. (BNETS). Euronet will facilitate the switching of inter-bank ATM and POS transactions from the banks’ existing devices. Two of the banks, DSB BANK and HAKRINBANK, are currently Euronet software customers. The national switch is the first of its kind in Suriname and will allow the four banks to establish a shared network to offer customers added convenience with its transactions. It is the second national switch in just one month to be built on Euronet software. Euronet recently announced a similar project in India.

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Fincentric Introduces Wealthview Leadbuilder

Fincentric introduced “Wealthview Leadbuilder”, a software application that enables banks and credit unions to engage their frontline service representatives in lead generation activities. For the first time, banks and credit unions can
utilize their tellers, call center or other frontline service
representatives to deliver highly targeted marketing campaign offers to
customers during service interactions-resulting in increased lead
generation, sales effectiveness and revenue opportunities for the financial
institution. “Wealthview Leadbuilder” leverages a bank’s back-office customer analytics
system such as a “Marketing Customer Information File” and directs
MCIF-generated marketing campaigns to the desktops of frontline staff.
Wealthview Leadbuilder matches customer data with the bank’s core banking
system and lead management system, ensuring all marketing offers are
appropriate and valid. During a customer service interaction, Wealthview
Leadbuilder automatically presents a banner with a targeted marketing
campaign offer for the specific customer. With a single key stroke, the
customer’s response is recorded and Wealthview Leadbuilder interfaces with
the lead management system, instantly passing the referral to an appropriate
sales representative for follow-up. The bank’s marketing group can generate
timely campaign reports, instantly measure results and modify campaigns to
improve customer response rates. Washington Trust Bank, the largest privately owned commercial bank in the Pacific Northwest, is currently beta-testing Fincentric’s “Wealthview
Leadbuilder.”

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Command Technology and SVC Financial Form a Strategic Alliance

Command Technology and SVC Financial Services have signed a strategic marketing alliance. The SVC-Command partnership offers European financial services, entertainment and media companies scalable rich media application generator software, SVC Payment Services, robust Digital Rights Management and a powerful mobile commerce application solution. Command Technology sells ICT products and services in the marketing services, CRM, digital rights management and data extract, transform and load sectors to help its clients create and manage successful online real time enterprises. SVC Financial Services is a provider of an integrated suite of secure electronic payment, web application development, digital rights management and multimedia authoring solutions with a focus on the online retailing and entertainment industries as well as the companies that serve them.

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Card APRs May Rise 100 bps by Spring 06

If the Feds raise short-term interest rates by 25 basis points next week and continue with subsequent hikes, then credit cards interest rates are likely to rise 19 basis points within two months, and perhaps increase by 96 basis points within nine months, based on historical patterns. In April 1994, the prime rate moved to 6.25% after sitting at 6.00% for 21 months. By June credit card APRs increased 20 basis points, and nine months after the rate increases began, credit card interest rates were 106 basis points higher. In April 1997, the prime rate moved to 8.50% after sitting at 8.25% for 14 months. By June credit card APRs increased 18 basis points, and nine months after the rate increases began, credit card interest rates were 87 basis points higher. The current prime rate has been sitting at 4.00% for 11 months. In 1994, less than half of bank credit cards in the USA were variable rates. By 1997, variable rates represented more than 75% of the market. Today, the market is split between variable and fixed rates. More than 95% of current variable rate cards are holding at their floor rate. Therefore, the expected rate hikes will promptly impact issuers’ bottom line, given the typical 45 day pass-through period for cardholders.

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CardWorks Deploys Incurrent Web Tools

NY-based CardWorks and NJ-based Incurrent have teamed to provide state-of-the-art control for co-branded Web sites using Incurrent’s “InSite” product line. Incurrent’s products will permit CardWorks-managed cardholders to view multiple credit card accounts with one user name and password, use an online message center to contact customer service, create reports, and set up online payments. CardWorks says it gives them the flexibility to make cost-effective branding and text changes to its various Eeb sites, rather than having a service provider perform the work. CardWorks is incorporating the “InSite Account Maintenance” and “InSite Billing” modules as well as InSite’s “Integrated Issuer Controls” which include “Inquiry Manager” and “Content Manager.” Incurrent says its growing relationship with CardWorks is due to its recent shift in focus to concentrate on more R&D and to develop new product offerings aimed at better serving the credit card vertical niche. Incurrent has 130 million card accounts under management. CardWorks is the parent company of Cardholder Management Services.

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Pennsylvania Sues Cross Country & ACS

The Pennsylvania Attorney General has filed a civil lawsuit against DE-based Cross Country Bank and PA-based Applied Card Systems. This is the seventh lawsuit filed by a state Attorney General. Cross Country currently faces lawsuits in New York, Texas, West Virginia, Minnesota, Wisconsin and New Hampshire over its credit card program. Pennsylvania claims that hundreds of consumers with impaired credit were targeted for pre-approved credit cards that were deceptively marketed. Cross Country and ACS are also accused of improperly disclosing charges and fees, and engaging in abusive and illegal debt collection tactics when cardholders defaulted on their accounts. Pennsylvania says its investigation involved complaints from more than 400 consumers throughout Pennsylvania. The lawsuit asks the court to require the defendants to pay restitution to cardholders; pay civil penalties of $1,000 per violation, and $3,000 for each violation involving a consumer age 60 or older; forfeit their right to conduct business in the state until all restitution and fines are paid; and, disgorge all profits derived from the alleged illegal business practices.

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Bankruptcies Show a Slow Recovering Economy

While bankruptcies are running about 3% lower than last year, there is still a significant impact on the card industry. In March, bankruptcies topped 150,000, a factor noted in MBNA’s charge-off figures for May. MBNA reported last week that its charge-off rate edged up by 18 basis points in May due to the March filings. According to the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, a record number of filings took place in the quarter ending June 30, 2003, when 440,257 filings were made. So far, 282,052 filings have been made in the second quarter of this year, about 158,000 short of the all-time record.

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Monthly Filings Historical
Jun 03: 130,242
Jul 03: 138,400
Aug 03: 138,266
Sep 03: 127,079
Oct 03: 148,044
Nov 03: 131,921
Dec 03: 113,383
Jan 04: 114,737
Feb 04: 124,719
Mar 04: 152,567
Apr 04: 145,543
May 04: 136,509
Source: CardData (www.carddata.com)

[1]: http://www.cardweb.com/images/g/graphs/monthlyfilings.jpg

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