Australians Ramp Up Card Purchases by 21%

CardFlash International (cardflashinternational) this morning reported that consumer purchase volume on credit cards in Australia surged by 20.7% during March, as balances grew 13.3%, and credit lines edged up 12.1% per annum. During March, Australians charged $8.7 billion in purchases on credit cards compared to $7.2 billion one-year ago. At the end of the first quarter, consumers owed $18.7 billion on credit cards versus $16.6 billion for March 2003. The ratio of credit card balances to card credit limits increased slightly during March, from 36.9% to 37.3%, compared to one-year ago, according to data released by the Reserve Bank of Australia. One-year ago, consumers owed $16.6 billion with total credit lines of $44.9 billion. Card credit limits reached $50.3 billion at the end of March.

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Smart Cards and Flash Memory Cards Combine

San Jose-based Renesas Technology America has introduced the industry’s first small size flash memory card with smart card functions, which also conforms to the “Mobile Commerce Extension Standard”. Renesas Technology will carry out further development of a version which also conforms to the SD memory card standard*4 and promote it as “X-Mobile Card” for various applications such as enterprise security and mobile commerce. Full commercial deployment of this Mc-EX and SD standard compliant product is targeted for spring 2005. Renesas Technology Corp. designs and manufactures highly integrated semiconductor system solutions for mobile, automotive and PC/AV markets.

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ADS Completes a Major ABS Deal for WFNNB

Alliance Data Systems this week completed a $500 million securitization program for its private label credit card banking subsidiary, World Financial Network National Bank. The notes were issued through the World Financial Network Credit Card Master Note Trust as part of the securitization program for its private label credit card banking subsidiary, World Financial Network National Bank (WFNNB). The notes are rated AAA through BBB, or its equivalent, by each of Standard and Poor’s, Moody’s and Fitch, and are secured by a beneficial interest in a pool of receivables that arise under WFNNB’s private label revolving credit card accounts. Alliance Data Systems is a leading provider of transaction services, credit services and marketing services.

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AmEx Cards Become the Official Card of Tourism to Australia

American Express and the Australian Tourist Commission have inked a deal to make the “American Express Card” the “Official Card of Tourism to Australia.” The first market to benefit from the partnership will be the U.S., with another five markets to follow in year two, and global activity by year three. In the first year of the partnership American Express and the ATC will launch nearly 40 separate marketing initiatives to reach U.S. consumers, including both online and direct mail communications, that will aim messages
and offerings to both experienced and new travelers to Australia. With the purchase of any one of a variety of special Australian vacations through American Express Travel, cardholders receive double membership rewards points, a statement credit of up to $150 on qualifying vacations, and, an “Australian Vacations Values Card” which offers a range of exclusive values on shopping, dining and sightseeing across Australia, including 2 for 1 savings on some of Australia’s best and most unique experiences.

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GM Commercial Truck Dealers use Ecount STV Cards

Ecount is now providing stored-value cards and management services to GMC, Chevrolet, and Isuzu commercial truck dealers, including 3,000 sales professionals. GM’s commercial truck dealers are among the country’s pioneers in the effective use of stored-value debit cards for sales incentives and commissions. Ecount provides products and services that enable organizations to easily and electronically move cash to employees and consumers in order to motivate, compensate and reward.

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Andrews FCU Joins the Allpoint ATM Network

Andrews Federal Credit Union has joined the Allpoint Network surcharge-free ATM network, bringing the total number of people in the Washington area with surcharge-free access at Allpoint ATMs to over 350,000. Allpoint was created to provide customers of financial institutions with little or no ATM presence with greater access, convenience, and savings, while enabling their financial institution to compete more effectively with larger banks. Allpoint’s unique membership structure makes it very cost effective for a financial institution to join and easy for their customers to use. llpoint is America’s Largest Surcharge-Free ATM Network, with more than 25,000 ATMs in leading national and regional merchant locations across the country.

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Payroll Card Regulations Remain Cloudy at Best

The OCC released an advisory last week cautioning banks on the risks associated with payroll or prepaid cards. The OCC said banks need to address compliance issues and any role of nonbank third parties. The OCC says the involvement of nonbanks in payroll cards can significantly increase risks to cardholders and to banks if, for example, the nonbank should become insolvent. The OCC also noted that there are a number of unsettled regulatory issues involving payroll cards including when FDIC deposit insurance is available to cardholders, whether “Regulation E” applies to payroll card systems, whether “Section 326 of the Patriot Act” (verification of new customers) applies, and whether “Regulation CC” (Availability of Funds) applies. The OCC says that while waiting for further guidance on the application of various laws and regulations to payroll card systems, banks may decide to comply with the substance of those laws and regulations to protect the bank against reputation risk and future compliance risk.

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IDRBT Selects Euronet to Implement a National Financial Switch

The Institute for Development and Research in Banking Technology, the technology arm of Reserve Bank of India, has signed a deal for Euronet Worldwide to implement a national financial switch in the country. IDRBT selected Euronet to provide the two-part turnkey solution for the NFS, which will create a neutral platform that enables banks to connect their own switches to the NFS. The NFS will contain both an integrated inter-ATM switch and an Internet and e-commerce payment gateway, which will act as an e-commerce facilitator to authenticate and route payment details between banks and various parties. This two-part solution is believed to be the first of its kind at a national infrastructure level. The installed base of ATMs in India is estimated to be over 15,000 units and this number of ATMs has been growing at over 50% for the last three years. New private banks have been the biggest deployers and more recently public sector banks and old private banks are implementing aggressive plans to install ATMs. Euronet operates a shared Indian ATM network, called “Cashnet” that includes nine member banks. These banks are connected with more than 3,000 ATMs serving over 9 million cardholders across 250 cities in India.

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Glimcher Malls Offer NBO VISA Gift Cards

OH-based Glimcher Realty Trust this month rolled-out “VISA Stored Value Gift Cards” at all of its 25 malls under a three-year agreement with NBO Systems. Gift Cards offer a better alternative to traditional paper gift certificates. Card holders are able to register their gift card, offering protection from theft or loss. In addition, enhanced features enable shoppers to purchase cards on-line from each mall’s website or at http://www.glimcher.com , or by phone at 1-877-GIFT-TO-GO (1-877-443-8864). Glimcher Realty Trust, a real estate investment trust, is a recognized leader in the ownership, management, acquisition and development of enclosed regional and super-regional malls, and community shopping centers.

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Symbol Completes its Family of Payment Terminals

NY-based Symbol Technologies has unveiled two new terminals which support applications for online and offline debit/credit, signature capture, scrolling line item display, EBT, gift and loyalty programs and advertisements. The new “Symbol PD 4500” and the “Symbol PD 7000” completes the firm’s family of payment terminal devices which also includes the “Symbol PD 8500.” The “4500” has a monochrome display, while the “7000” has a color display, and both devices have traditional serial and USB connectivity. Both terminals have resistive touchpad technology with a passive stylus. All of Symbol’s payment transaction devices are “Windows CE.NET”-based. The devices incorporate a common hardware platform based on the Intel “Xscale” processor, and are compliant with VISA Online PIN or “PED”

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FDC Share Repurchases to Top $8 Billion

First Data shareholders approved the re-election of Chairman Charlie Fote and three directors including Ric Duques, Richard Kiphart, and Joan Spero. First Data’s Board of Directors also authorized a $2 billion increase in the Company’s share repurchase program. Since 1998, FDC has repurchased more than 180 million shares for $6.1 billion. Thus far, in the second quarter, the company has repurchased 7.2 million shares of stock for $320 million at an average price of $44.61. As a result, the company has $2.017 billion remaining for repurchase following approval of this new authorization. Duques previously served as chairman and CEO from 1992 until 2002 and has served on the board since April 1989. Spero joined the board in 1998, and Kiphart joined in 2004. Fote was named chairman in 2003 and CEO in 2002.

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Nautilus Hyosung Lands US Distributor for its US$20K ATM

Nautilus Hyosung has signed Atlanta-based ACG ATM-Remarketers to be a national distributor its “Ubitus 7040” ATM. ACG says the ATM is comparable in quality to that of NCR and Diebold ATM machines but costs 25% less. A walk-up, through-the-wall ATM, “Ubitus 7040” has an Intel “Pentium III” processor and runs on a “Windows XP” operating system. It has a motorized card reader, 12-inch LCD color monitor, depository and up to four 3,000-note cash cassettes. Specifically, comparable to NCR’s “Persona 86” ATM, “Ubitus 7040” is manufactured to be Triple DES compliant and configured for TCP/IP communications. An additional feature offered with the Korean machine is a digital camera that records images on the hard-drive, used as a surveillance device. ACG sells the “Ubitus 7040” for approximately $20,000, including delivery and installation and a one-year warranty on all components in the machine.

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