Edinburgh-based advertising agency, Story, has been signed to promote the new “Marks & Spencer &more MasterCard.” The agency will focus on converting existing Marks & Spencer’s store cardholders to the new bank credit card. Marks & Spencer Money launched the new rewards MasterCard card in September. The “&more” card offers 1 loyalty point per 1 GBP spent with Marks & Spencer, and 1 loyalty point per 2 GBP spent elsewhere. The “&more” points can be converted into vouchers to spend exclusively at Marks & Spencer UK stores. The new card offers an APR of 14.9% and no annual fee. M&S is the second largest store card issuer in the UK. Marks & Spencer Money tangled with the Office of Fair Trading over its decision to force convert store cardholders to the new MasterCard.Details
UT-based Q Comm International has named William Jurika, Gary Crook and Steven Phillips to its board. Jurika & Voyles grew to manage over $7 billion in assets for private and institutional clients. Crook has a strong background in finance having served as the CFO of SOS Staffing, guiding the company from its 1995 IPO on Nasdaq and through subsequent secondary offerings. Phillips has in-depth legal and international business development experience. Presently he serves as the assistant general counsel of CMS Energy, a multi-billion dollar global energy company. 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.Details
Atlanta-based Certegy has inked a new three-year processing agreement with Travis Credit Union of Vacaville, CA. Certegy’s Premier Internet Banking solution allows for the integrated delivery of various online services — including electronic bill payment and credit card information — from a single, easy to use platform. Certegy provides credit and debit processing, check risk management and check cashing services, merchant processing and e-banking services to nearly 7,000 financial institutions, 117,000 retailers and 100 million consumers worldwide. Travis Credit Union of Vacaville, California serves members in a nine- county area including Solano, Yolo, Sacramento, Placer, San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Napa, Contra Costa, and Merced Counties. Its membership is open to individuals living, working, or attending school in those areas.Details
Credit card volume may decline in the fall, the first deceleration in consumer spending since the spring 2003, after the stimulus of tax cuts wears off. A monthly index of consumer spending finds that the US economy may have reached an inflection point. Deloitte Research’s “Consumer Spending Index” rose 4.89% in March, down slightly from a revised gain of 5.03% in the previous month, but somewhat higher than December’s 4.82%. The index is a composite of tax burden, initial unemployment claims, real wages and real home prices. Deloitte says total tax refunds are still expected to run up to 50% more than the prior year, but will be slow in coming and will have little, if any, effect on fall spending. However, home prices are still rising sharply, which creates a pool of future cash from which consumers can draw upon. But, real wages are up a very modest 0.2% from a year ago. Deloitte also notes that declines in unemployment claims continue to contribute to slowed consumer spending growth. Last year, credit card volume for bank credit cards in the USA rose only 6.9%, from $1,427 million to $1,525 million, according to CardData ([www.carddata.com]).
Citigroup has introduced a new consumer credit card to the general public that links a rebate feature to the cardholder’s mortgage, regardless of the provider. The “Citi Home Rebate Platinum Select MasterCard” offers a full 1% rebate on all purchases, with no annual or lifetime cap. The card was previously introduced to CitiMortgage customers in January. The card carries no annual fee and 0% interest rate on purchases and balance transfers through November 2004. The go-to APR is prime +6.99%. Citi is inviting consumers to check out its on-line mortgage savings calculator to estimate savings.Details
Equitex, Inc. announced, in conjunction with its subsidiary, Chex Services, Inc., that they have executed a Settlement Agreement and Mutual Release with Cash Systems, Inc. related to termination of a Stock Purchase Agreement signed in July 2003, as well as termination of a contract to provide cash access services to the Seminole Tribe of Florida casinos.
Terms of the agreement call for each company to mutually release the other and dismiss each other from various lawsuits filed by the parties. The Company and Chex retained the right to pursue claims against Native American Cash Systems, Inc., Native American Cash Systems Florida, Inc. and Lisa G. Maulson related to the Seminole Tribe of Florida casino termination.
Equitex, Inc. is a holding company operating through its wholly owned subsidiary Chex Services of Minnetonka, Minnesota, as well as its majority owned subsidiary Denaris Corporation. Chex Services provides comprehensive cash access services to casinos and other gaming facilities. Denaris was formed to provide stored value card services.Details
VeriChip Corporation announced the first deployment of its syringe-injectable ID and payment microchip implant for humans at a Baja Beach Clubs night club in Spain. The VeriPay System is a new syringe-injectable microchip implant for humans, designed to be used as a fraud-proof payment method for cash and credit-card transactions. The chip implant is an advance over credit cards and smart cards, which, absent biometrics and appropriate safeguard technologies, are subject to theft, resulting in identity fraud. Applied Digital Solutions is an advanced technology development company that focuses on a range of early warning alert, miniaturized power sources and security monitoring systems combined with the comprehensive data management services required to support them.Details
Jack Henry & Associates has inked a deal to acquire MA-based e-ClassicSystems which offers “ATM Manager Pro”. e-Classic is a premier provider of a suite of software products developed to enable institutions to manage the complete operations and accounting of their ATM networks. e-Classic flagship software solution, ATM Manager Pro(R), will be targeted to all of our existing financial institutions, non-core financial institutions and independent sales organizations (ISOs) which operate ATM networks. Jack Henry & Associates, Inc. provides integrated computer systems and processes ATM and debit card transactions for banks and credit unions.Details
ING has selected Axalto to provide smart cards for its MasterCard co-branded program in Belgium. The “ING/Sony PlayStation MasterCard” is targeted at students and professionally active customers in the 20-30 age bracket. The smart card features discount prices on “PlayStation 2” consoles and games as well as a differentiated card body. The bank is using SMS to promote the card. Axalto, formerly known as Schlumberger Smart Cards & Terminals, has delivered 3 billion smart cards to date.Details
The bank credit card industry’s migration to universal default clauses, wherein cardholders who miss a payment with any creditor are considered in default of all credit agreements, is drawing more protest. Last week, New York Assemblyman Peter Rivera (D-Bronx) has introduced a bill to make it a violation for a card issuer to raise an interest rate based on universal default. Rivera says the practice is anti-consumer and represents an intrusion into the private matters of the credit card holder. Rivera aides told Newsday that the practice is akin to being found guilty before the trial. At least two major new organizations are investigating the universal default practice.Details
GE reported that its Consumer Finance unit posted a record $602 million in first quarter profit, a 10.2% gain over 1Q/03, and a nearly 19% increase over the prior quarter. First quarter revenues were $3.6 billion, a 30% jump over 1Q/03 but only up slightly over the fourth quarter. During the quarter, GE completed the acquisitions of RSGB in France and Orient Consumer Credit in Singapore, adding more than $800 million of assets and expanding Consumer Finance’s presence in growing markets for secured debt consolidation and the financing of used autos. The Company also acquired a 50% interest in IFG Group, a leading Irish specialty finance company, enabling the creation of a debt consolidation business in that market. Acquired Cashworks, a provider of technology solutions for the non-bank financial services industry that adds a strong foundation in the Americas for fee-based Consumer Finance business. GE also launched a private-label credit card and pilot dual card product with ASDA, a 270-store Wal-Mart subsidiary and one of the U.K.’s fastest-growing chains. For complete details on GE’s first quarter performance visit CardData ([www.carddata.com]).
GE CONSUMER FINANCIAL TRACK RECORD
1Q/03: $546 million $2759 million
2Q/03: $514 million $3046 million
3Q/03: $595 million $3499 million
4Q/03: $506 million $3541 million
1Q/04: $602 million $3589 million
Source: CardData (www.carddata.com)