First Data Renews a Second Contract this Week

First Data’s Star Systems announced another contract renewal this morning. Union Bank of California signed a long-term agreement for the “STAR Network” to continue providing PIN-secured debit access at retailers and ATMs, and ATM and signature debit card processing. Union Bank has 560 ATMs and 1.2 million ATM and signature debit cards. Earlier this week, Star Systems reported that a renewal of its agreement with KeyBank. Under the terms of the long-term agreement, the “STAR Network” will continue to provide PIN-secured debit access at retailers and ATMs, and ATM and signature debit card processing for KeyBank’s 2,200 ATMs and 4.6 million credit and debit cards. Last year, the “STAR Network” served 1.26 million ATM and POS locations nationwide. It processed nearly 7 billion transactions in 2003 at 6,100 participating financial institutions. (CF Library 4/6/04)

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First Quarter Contraction Not Felt by All Issuers

SD-based Wells Fargo Financial Bank posted an uptick in first quarter card outstandings, bucking the seasonal contraction experienced by most U.S. issuers. Wells reported first quarter outstandings of $1.4 billion compared to $1.3 billion in the fourth quarter. Wells also added more than 50,000 cards during the quarter, according to CardData (www.carddata.com). Meanwhile, OH-based National City’s outstandings dropped from $2.6 billion in the fourth quarter to $2.4 billion. Navy Federal Credit Union also slipped from $1.60 billion at the end of last year, to $1.55 billion in the first quarter.

CARD OUTSTANDINGS
ISSUER 1Q/04 4Q/03
National City $2,443,320,152 $2,557,885,054
Navy FCU $1,555,352,486 $1,604,048,644
Wells Fargo* $1,428,558,931 $1,342,149,879

*Wells Fargo Financial Bank; does not include Wells Fargo Card Services
SOURCE: CardData (www.carddata.com)

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V/MC WORLDWIDE

VISA’s global card sales volume hit $2.9 trillion last year, rising 10% over 2002, as MasterCard’s worldwide gross dollar volume during 2003 grew 6%, to nearly $1.3 trillion. VISA’s fastest growing region was Central Europe, Middle East and Africa, where annual volume grew 34%, while MasterCard’s hottest region is Latin America, where 2003 GDV increased 31%. However, both networks posted decreases in Asia-Pacific, primarily due to the collapse of the South Korean card market. VISA’s Asia Pacific region produced card sales volume of US$438 billion, a 2% decline over 2002. MasterCard’s Asia/Pacific region reported GDV of $213.1 billion in 2003, a 9% decrease. VISA’s European Union region achieved card sales volume of $943 billion, an 11% increase over 2002, as MasterCard’s European GDV rose 13.5% in 2003 to $316.1 billion. VISA’s Latin America and Caribbean area produced card sales volume of $181 billion, a 16% increase over the prior year, while MasterCard’s Latin America region posted a substantial increase in GDV of 31.2% for 2003 to $53.0 billion. VISA’s volume in Central Europe, Middle East and Africa region was $139 billion, a 34% increase. MasterCard’s South Asia, Middle East/Africa regional volume grew 17.5% during 2003 to $11.3 billion. VISA’s Canadian card sales volume of $89 billion, represented a 9% increase over 2002, as MasterCard grew 15% in Canada to $41.7 billion in 2003 GDV. In the USA, VISA grew 10% to $1.1 trillion and MasterCard grew 6% to $637 billion.

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VISA Wins Synovus’ Debit Network Business

GA-based Synovus has selected VISA’s “Plus” and “Interlink” as its primary debit network providers, effective April 1st. In October, Wells Fargo announced a contract renewal with VISA for debit and credit cards and is now replacing MasterCard’s “Cirrus” network with VISA’s “Plus” network on its 15 million debit card accounts. Wells also agreed to expand its commitment to “Interlink.” Also in October, AmSouth Bank renewed its contract with VISA for signature-based debit, added “Interlink” PIN-based debit, and chose VISA “DPS” and “PULSE” to handle the bank’s PIN-based debit processing. In August, Wachovia announced it chose VISA “DPS” to handle the bank’s offline debit processing, and “Interlink” for PIN POS transactions. Wachovia also announced plans to switch its ATM transactions business from Concord EFS to NYCE. The “PLUS” network has more than 840,000 ATMs in 144 countries, with 364,000 in the USA. At the end of the fourth quarter, “Interlink” had 1,266,024 merchants locations, and 71 million “Interlink”-branded debit cards in the marketplace. To date, there are more than 980 issuers of “Interlink.” For 2003, “Interlink’s” transaction dollar volume was $35.2 billion produced by 999,589,000 transactions, according to CardData (www.carddata.com). During 2003, VISA handled 434,222 “PLUS” transactions. (CF Library 8/29/03; 10/20/03; 10/27/03)

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Citi Commits $200MM to Financial Ed; Pays $240MM FTC Settlement

“National Financial Literacy Month” got a big boost this morning as Citigroup announced a 10-year, $200 million commitment to global financial education, and the hiring of the former Executive Director of the Washington, DC-based Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy to run the new Office. Citigroup also began sending out refund checks and posting credits this month in a major settlement to provide $240 million in consumer redress for two million Associates borrowers who were victims of past deceptive and abusive lending practices. Today, Citi is forming an Office of Financial Education and has hired Dara Duguay as the head of the new Office. Citi says the new Office will teach millions of people in nearly 100 countries the basics of financial education. The Office will also encourage Citi’s 275,000 employees around the world to devote time to support financial education and other charitable causes. The global commitment is focused in three areas: Personal Financial Education, Small Business Financial Education, and Institutional Financial Education. Meanwhile, Citigroup’s $240 million in consumer redress for The Associates customers, now CitiFinancial Credit Company, is the result of a settlement obtained by the FTC in September 2002. It is the largest consumer protection settlement in FTC history. Citigroup acquired The Associates in November 2000. In March 2001, the FTC sued The Associates in U.S. District Court alleging that it had violated the FTC Act through deceptive marketing practices that induced consumers to refinance existing debts into home loans with high interest rates and fees, and to purchase high-cost credit insurance.

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CU24 Network Teams with the CO-OP Network

The CU24 network has become a member-shareholder in the CO-OP Network and has signed a contract with the CO-OP Network to become the processor for its current participating credit unions, located principally in New York and New Jersey, upon expiration of its current processing agreement with another vendor. The agreement allows CU24 participating credit unions to expand ATM access for their members through CO-OP Network’s nearly 18,000 surcharge-free machines around the country. Ontario, Calif.-based CO-OP Network is the no. 1 credit union ATM network in the country, offering the industry’s largest system of surcharge-free ATMs, including more than 800 machines in New York and New Jersey, to its membership of nearly 1,500 credit unions. CO-OP Network ([www.co-opnetwork.org][1]), established in 1981, is wholly-owned by its credit union shareholders.

[1]: http://www.co-opnetwork.org

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MasterCard/Maestro Terminal Implementation Program Launched

MasterCard has launched the “MasterCard/Maestro Terminal Implementation Program” to build global acceptance of “Maestro” through low cost terminals. The “M-TIP” program is being supported by Dione, Hypercom and Verifone. Dione is offering the “Xtreme” and “Xplorer” terminals as well as field teams to provide a fully managed service. Verifone implemented its first “M-TIP” trial last year in Argentina for Argencard, who started their program of upgrading over 8,000 merchants to “Maestro” and PIN functionality. MasterCard says countries with relatively low terminal penetration such as India, Argentina and Indonesia are looking to MasterCard to support rapid, low cost “Maestro” accepting terminals, while more extensively penetrated card acceptance markets, such as the UK, Brazil and Switzerland, face a different challenge as they replace their local debit card brands with “Maestro,” meaning that they need to upgrade their entire terminal estate to “Maestro” as they replace their terminals to support “EMV Chip and PIN.” MasterCard noted that terminal offers have already been delivered to acquirers in over ten countries, including among others Argentina, Tunisia, South Africa, Brazil, India and Egypt.

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VISA Reaches Out to Special Education Students

VISA USA and the Council for Exceptional Children have teamed up to develop a money management curriculum for students with disabilities. With, on average, more than 100 special education students per high school in the United States, Visa and CEC are working to enhance the tools available to thousands of special education teachers across the country, ensuring no student is left behind when it comes to learning money management skills. The Practical Money Skills for Life curriculum is teacher tested and teacher approved. Visa is the world’s leading payment brand and largest consumer payment system, enabling banks to provide their consumer and merchant customers with a wide variety of payment alternatives.

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Ten US Cities Have Above Average Consumer Scores

Experian Consumer Direct reported that consumers in only 10 U.S. cities have above average scores. Minneapolis topped the list at 707, followed by Boston at 705, and Washington, DC at 693. The average credit score for the U.S. is 678, according to Experian. The credit scores were compiled from the “Experian National Score Index,” which is based upon a nationwide sampling of three million consumer profiles. The Index is formulated using Experian’s consumer credit score model, called the “PLUS Score.”

Metropolitan Areas Credit Scores
Minneapolis 707
Boston 705
Washington, D.C. 693
Seattle 691
Cleveland 690
Philadelphia 688
New York 688
San Francisco 686
Chicago 680
Source: Experian

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NAB Payment Executive Nabs Top Prize in the Spring Golf Promotion

CardWeb.com announced this morning that the grand prize winner in its recently concluded “Spring Golf Promotion” is an executive with National Australia Bank. The sweepstakes, targeted at payment system executives, was designed to showcase the Company’s three major industry services, “CardFlash,” “CardData,” and “CardWatch,” currently used by more than 30,000 professionals worldwide. The “Spring Golf Promotion” awarded Warren Beckerman, Manager of Global Emerging Payments in National Australia Bank’s Melbourne office, a top-of-the-line golf driver. Beckerman will receive a “TaylorMade R360XD Titanium Driver” that features “Pull-Face” titanium construction. The club can deliver the fastest ball speed allowed by the USGA. CardWeb.com is in the process of launching two new services, “CardPeople” and “CardDesign” and is currently assembling a summer promotion to introduce the new services to its clients, according to Devek McKinley, business development manager.

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