iGames Sues Equitex Over Chex Servces

iGames has filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware against Equitex over its failed purchase of Chex Services. In the federal complaint, iGames asserts that it is entitled to recover significant damages, including all of the transaction costs it incurred while attempting to acquire Chex Services, Inc. and a one million dollar agreed-upon termination fee. iGames Entertainment, Inc. provides cash access and financial management systems for the gaming industry, focusing on specialty transactions in the cash access segment of the funds transfer industry through its Money Centers of America, Inc. and Available Money, Inc. subsidiaries.

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Canadian Consumer MPR Double the US Rate

Canadian payment rates, among card-backed bonds, continue to be roughly double the levels in the USA, hitting 34.85% in the fourth quarter. Also during the fourth quarter, the delinquency rate reversed two quarters of increases and fell to a new quarterly low, as charge-offs marked the third consecutive quarter of year-over-year increases. According to Moody’s Investors Service, the charge-off rate was 2.94% in the fourth quarter, up from 2.62% a year ago, but below the second quarter peak of 3.15%. The delinquency rate in the fourth quarter was 2.27%, down slightly from 2.29% in the same period a year earlier. The Moody’s Canadian Index balance covers $38.3 billion in outstanding balances. The Canadian Banker’s Association reported outstanding receivables balance for all VISA and MasterCard issuers was $49.8 billion as of October 31st.

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MasterCard Names Heuer as COO

MasterCard has named Alan Heuer to the new position of COO. He joined MasterCard in 1995, and is currently SEVP/Customer Group, and a member of MasterCard’s Executive Management Group. Heuer has responsibility for the strategy and implementation of MasterCard’s customer-related activities around the world, including the organization’s regional operations, key global accounts, global marketing programs, and professional services offerings. Heuer will continue to have responsibility for MasterCard’s Customer Group. MasterCard also announced that Henry Mundt has resigned as the president of MasterCard Advisors.

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PhoneAutomation Targets the Software Industry

Seattle-based PhoneAutomation.com has launched its automated sales order processing technology with credit card processing and verification services for the video game and software publishing industries. PhoneAutomation.com, Inc.’s automated sales order processing technology utilizes automated credit card processing and verification services to provide a low-cost solution for companies to gain sales from previously released video game products that still have some related value in terms of genre or game platform. Seattle-based PhoneAutomation.com, Inc. helps companies to automatically process small, medium or large volumes of incoming sales orders, service requests, and customer inquiries in a 24/7 environment, by combining computer technology and telephone-based solutions.

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Upfront Rewards Card Offers Free Notebook PCs

Minneapolis-based Universal Savings Bank has expanded its free computer offer to include notebook PCs from Dell and IBM. The “Upfront Rewards VISA Platinum” gives cardholders a brand new laptop computer in exchange for transferring a balance of at least $5,000 from other credit cards and maintaining a balance of at least $3,500 on the card for at least 18 months. Those who do not have $5,000 to transfer can request a cash advance up to $2,500 to bring their initial balance up to $5,000. The card’s current APR is 9.99%. Universal is offering a choice of notebooks PCs including the Dell “Inspiron 1100,” IBM “ThinkPad R40e,” and the HP Compaq “nx9010.” All three of the computers carry street prices of $800 to $1000. The card was first launched in May 2003 offering a free Compaq “Evo N1015v” notebook PC in exchange for a balance transfer. Wayne Johnson is the CEO of Universal Savings Bank. (CF Library 5/20/03)

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BSI2000’s MicroBanker 2000 Technology to be Deployed at a New Bank

BSI2000 has signed a letter of intent with Johannesburg-based Mudengu Resources Holdings to establish a major banking system to serve rural South African societies that are currently cash-only economies.
Mudengu is a South African holding company that owns six subsidiaries active in mining, construction, electronics, information technology and import-export. The new joint venture will work closely with the
two million-member United African Apostolic Church. Service to rural South Africans is expected to begin with basic savings and cash debit services and ultimately could include loans. The launch of the joint venture is contingent on the signing of a final agreement between Mudengu and BSI2000 and funding of $1.25 million by the Overseas Private Investment Corporation. BSI2000 and Mudengu hope to begin operations by the second half of 2004. The bank will be based on BSI2000’s “MicroBanker 2000” technology.

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ViVOtech Adds Contactless Wallet to Mobile Phones

ViVOtech has introduced customized contactless payment and promotion software for “Symbian OS” mobile phones. The new ViVOwallet solution adds a powerful application to the mobile phone’s existing capabilities spurring new consumer usage and opening the door to incremental revenue opportunities for wireless operators, retailers and handset makers. ViVOtech’s ViVOwallet payment and promotion software will be available for download on all Symbian OS-based Series 60 and UIQ platform mobile devices worldwide. ViVOtech, a leader in lifestyle payment transactions, provides breakthrough software technology that allows consumers to make contactless payments in a style that best fits their needs — with a radio frequency (RF) enabled credit or debit card in various form factors, an infrared/RF enabled cell phone, PDA or an access card at existing POS systems.

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ASK Unveils the First Contact/Contactless POS Terminal

Sophia Antipolis-based, contactless card specialist, ASK, has introduced the first reloading terminal compliant with “ISO7816” and “ISO14443 A/B” standards. The new, hand-held “TEC” provides reading, controlling, and reloading functionalities for contactless cards and contactless paper tickets. “TEC” comes with a bi-processor architecture, one of them manages the card-reader communication, while the second microprocessor manages applications, transactions storing and the user interface. A removable flash memory ensures data retention in case of power failure. It is also available with an integrated thermal printer for receipts. ASK has supplied over 25 million contactless cards and contactless paper tickets for use in more 100 towns and cities in Europe, Asia and the USA.

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Gift Cards are Only One Fourth of the Prepaid Universe

Americans loaded $40 billion on prepaid gift cards last year, making up about 25% of the total prepaid market. However, a new research report says that some prepaid market segments are now very close to saturation, while others have incredible elasticity. The Mercator Advisory Group says gift cards will likely morph into a packaged good launched through new and different channels. For example a toy store can arrange for local movie theaters to sell gift cards for the movie’s action figures, or the movie theater can sell the DVD gift card as people leave the theater. The movie theater picks up additional revenue, the customer is approached when most likely to buy, and the merchants get the dollars locked-up before they are spent elsewhere. Mercator says prepaid is the strongest loyalty program ever invented, and it can be sold at the counter, on the shelf, or even through vending machine or ATM. The firm’s new “Prepaid 2003: 31 Prepaid Market Segments Benchmarked” study takes a more expansive view of the prepaid market, providing a benchmark for any segment where goods and services are purchased in advance. The report spans smart card applications, card products, coupons, mobile and long distance devices and even proprietary transit systems.

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Smart Chip Technologies Launches Smart Rewards Management System Licensing Campaign

POS specialist, TechTrex, has been assigned exclusive Smart Chip Technologies patent and product licensing rights for Japan, and is launching launch.the “Smart Rewards Management System” licensing campaign. Smart Chip Technologies was recently awarded Japanese gateway patent for a method and system for allocating and redeeming incentive credits between a portable device and a base device. This technology-independent business process patent covers any loyalty transaction event regardless of its occurrence in the life cycle of the transaction. As smart cards, mobile commerce, and smart chip-based rewards programs are far more prevalent in Japan than in North America, TechTrex has begun to engage in several licensing discussions and has notified numerous firms of potential patent infringement. According to an August 2003 IC card market report, the government reported an estimated 66 million smart cards issued in Japan, with an estimated 420 million smart cards to be issued in 2010.

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U.S. Bank’s ReliaCard VISA Enters Oregon

U.S. Bank last week launched its “ReliaCard VISA” with the Oregon State Employment Department which allows the state to disperse unemployment benefit payments on a plastic card versus a paper check. The prepaid card functions like a debit card though it is not attached to a checking or savings account. Instead of cutting a check and mailing it to the recipient, the state electronically loads the payment on to the card that the recipient can use to make purchases or withdraw cash. U.S. Bancorp, with assets of $189 billion, is the 8th largest financial services holding company in the United States.

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