CSI Chooses Fiserv ID3 System for New Card Product

Central States Indemnity Company of Omaha has decided to integrate “ID3” with its existing Fiserv solutions for annual statement, financial management and unclaimed property to launch CSI’s newest payment protection product and implement complete credit card payment processing. Central States Indemnity (CSI) is a specialty insurance company that found its niche 25 years ago in the bankcard market as credit cards emerged. Fiserv, Inc. provides information management systems and services to the financial industry, including transaction processing, business process outsourcing and software and systems solutions.

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The Western Australian Tourism Commission Inks an Alliance with MasterCard International

MasterCard International and the Western Australian Tourism Commission have signed a MOU to allow for a strategic marketing alliance between the two organizations in the Asia Pacific region. Initially, the partnership will focus on marketing activities in China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Japan and Australia. Under terms of the deal, the Tourism Commission will work with the in-bound tourism industry to provide MasterCard and its financial institution partners with promotions, packages and prizes suitable for several key markets, including: women, golfers, and couples and families looking for long weekend get-aways.
Last year WA received 204,000 tourists from the Asia region, who stayed for a total 4,605,000 nights and spent nearly $500,000,000. The initial agreement was for two years, but it would be reviewed each year and automatically extended if it proved successful for all parties. It is anticipated that the partnership will extend into the Middle East and European markets next.

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A Hispanic Telecard Launched

Intelecard Resources has introduced a Spanish-language version of “Telecard,” its prepaid promotional phone card. Telecard provides corporate marketing messages and carries a gift of free long distance minutes, allowing Hispanics to make international calls to friends and family in their home countries. By connecting Hispanics with their roots for free, Telecard wins immense “heart-share” for the client distributing the card. Intelecard Resources Inc., based in Delray Beach, Florida, has been a leading provider of prepaid promotional phone cards since 1995.

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Asia Pay Opts for the ClearCommerce Engine

Seattle-based Asia Payment Systems has selected the “ClearCommerce Engine” for its credit card processing platform to be deployed throughout Asia and the USA. Asia Pay is an Asian-based credit card processing merchant services company, which is developing a network to provide credit card clearing services to merchants and financial institutions in China. Asia Pay is a Nevada incorporated company with offices in Seattle, Washington, Hong Kong, and Shenzhen, China. ClearCommerce is the leading provider of fraud prevention and payment processing solutions for online retail, serving more than 75,000 businesses worldwide.

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ECHO Revenues Up 21% in the First Quarter

Electronic Clearing House reported that first calendar quarter revenue climbed 20.5% to $11.8 million. The Company recorded net income of $1.2 million compared to $268,000 in the same period last year. Bankcard processing and transaction revenue increased 16.9% to $9.1 million, primarily due to strong organic growth in bankcard processing volume from existing merchants and from new merchants generated by its marketing programs. Check-related revenues increased 34.8% to $2.7 million, primarily due to strong growth in both the “VISA POS Check Service” program and an increase in ACH and check conversion revenue. Gross profit from processing and transaction revenue rose to $4.2 million which translates to a gross margin of 36.2% in the quarter, up from 33.8% in the year-ago quarter. Gross margins declined from the prior quarter as a result of an interchange fee increase implemented by the card associations in February 2004. The Company began passing the fee increase to merchants in April and expects this fee increase to positively increase gross margins for the rest of this year. ECHO raised its prior guidance of revenue growth from 15-20% to 16-22% and maintaining gross margin guidance between 36-38%. For complete details on ECHO’s latest performance visit CardData (www.carddata.com).

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Corporate Card Spending Data Can Unlocked Savings

A new report has found that corporate card spending data is the key to lowering travel and entertainment costs. The study, commissioned by American Express and conducted by Accenture, has found that that use of comprehensive corporate card management information for negotiations and expense processing can knock-off up to 9% of total travel and entertainment spending for corporations. Of the top three T&E categories, hotel negotiations provides the greatest incremental savings opportunity, nearly 22%. Automobile expenses can be trimmed by 12.5% and air spend can be reduced by up to 4.0%. The study also estimated that spending on meetings, rail, restaurant, taxis, etc. could also be reduced by 0.3%. The study also found that firms using the latest generation of corporate card program features designed to reduce administrative expenses in managing T&E can realize up to 1.8% savings on their T&E budget in incremental process savings. The “American Express Corporate Card Data Value Study” polled 110 companies by online survey, gathering information on respondents’ expense management practices with a particular focus on accessing and analyzing spending data from their corporate card programs. In addition, Accenture conducted extensive follow-up interviews with 28 companies for qualitative analysis.

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ACH Transactions Reach a Record 2.1 Billion in Q1

NACHA reported that the ACH Network grew during the first quarter at the highest year-over-year growth rate since tracking began in 1997. More than 2.14 billion transactions were conducted during the quarter, worth more than $5.27 trillion, an increase of 20.9% and 7.7%, respectively, over the same quarter of 2003. The five consumer e-check applications (WEB, ARC, TEL, POP, and RCK) combined for 395.4 million payments in the quarter, up 27.3% over the prior quarter and 123% over a year ago. Commercial ACH payments were up 22.4% over one-year ago. The Federal government’s ACH volume increased to 259.1 million payments, which is a 12.7% increase over the previous quarter and a 10.9% increase over a year ago. NACHA noted that consumer E-checks now account for 21% of all commercial ACH payments and 42.8% of consumer ACH debits. The first quarter statistics include commercial inter-bank and Federal government transactions, but not “on-us” transactions.

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Darden Restaurants Opts for a FSV Payroll Card

Darden Restaurants, which owns and operates 1,300 Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Bahama Breeze and Smokey Bones Barbeque & Grill restaurants, will give its 140,000 U.S. employees the option of having their pay placed on a FSV Payment Systems “PAYCHEK PLUS!” payroll card. Instead of a paper check, employees who sign up for the program will receive what looks like an ATM card loaded with their weekly salary. The card may be used at ATMs and retail point-of-sale terminals across America. FSV Payment Systems offers a robust suite of unique, host-based stored-value and payroll debit card solutions direct to large employers and to financial institutions through an exclusive agreement with Fiserv Inc.

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Consumers Find Debit Faster and Easier to Use

A new study has found that PIN debit purchasers are the most satisfied with their chosen payment method, followed closely by credit card users and signature debit users. According to the research, when consumers choose debit over other payment methods, it is chiefly because they believe it is faster and easier. The second most frequently cited reason for choosing debit is avoiding credit balances and interest. The option to receive cash back was rated much lower, and sweepstakes and promotions have little impact on the choice of payment among debit users. The study, commissioned by PULSE EFT Association and conducted by Analytica, found that when asked how they would respond if a merchant stopped accepting their debit card, 81.4% of participants said they would be “very unhappy,” and 29.7% said they would stop using the merchant. If merchants began charging to accept debit cards, 79.2% of respondents would be unhappy, and of those, 37.4% said they would switch to a different payment method and 21.2% said they would stop using the merchant. Similarly, if financial institutions began charging a fee for debit card payments, 85.3% of respondents reported they would be “extremely dissatisfied,” and 43.7% said they would change institutions.

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GiftCertificates.com Unveils a New IMS

Seattle-based GiftCertificates.com has launched a new “Incentive Management System.” The Web-based tool was created to provide corporations with a full-service incentive and reward program to meet specific, results-oriented objectives such as driving customer acquisition and retention, increasing sales, and motivating and retaining employees, among others. GiftCertificates.com(TM) provides gift certificates and related products and services to corporations and consumers. The company’s sales organization works with over 20,000 corporate customers in all major industries to implement customer and employee acquisition, incentive, loyalty, reward and retention programs.

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MASTERCARD 1Q/04

MasterCard International reported first quarter worldwide gross dollar
volume (purchases + cash ) of $331.9 billion, an increase of 8.4% over the
first quarter of 2003. Total purchases on MasterCard credit and debit cards
rose 13.6% in the first quarter, with each region reporting double-digit
growth. Purchase volume in South Asia/Middle East/Africa increased 25% and
Latin America rose 24%. In Europe purchase volume rose 16%, compared to 13%
in the USA and Canada. In Asia-Pacific, where total gross dollar volume
declined 3%, purchase volume was up nearly 11%. GDV for worldwide credit
and charge programs grew 8.9% to $270.1 billion, and GDV for offline debit
programs rose 6.7% to $61.7 billion over the same period in 2003. Gross
transactions for credit and offline debit programs increased by 10% in 2004
compared to the first quarter in 2003. MasterCard’s almost 25,000 customer
financial institutions around the world had issued more than 627.5 million
MasterCard-branded cards, a 6.6% increase over first quarter 2003.

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