CU-Branded VISA Gift Card Program Introduced

St. Petersburg, Florida-based PSCU Financial Services has launched a national “VISA Gift Card” program for its 500+ member credit unions. The turnkey solution enables credit unions to market gift cards from their Web site under their own brand. PSCU says the program will help credit unions retain members while providing interchange income and revenue from unused card balances. Under the program, gift cards are ordered from the credit union’s Web site. The recipient then activates the card online or via a toll-free phone call. The solution also enables the recipient to view transaction history and available card balance information online. PSCU sets up a unique branded Web site for each credit union that is accessible from the credit union’s home page. Confirmation emails are sent to the giver and a notice can be sent to the recipient if an email address is provided. PSCU says it will add a reloadable option to the program soon. A payroll card for credit unions is also under development. PSCU is the nation’s largest “Credit Union Service Organization”and is a non-profit cooperative.

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Consumers Want Credit Cards From Their Primary Bank

A new research report has found that nearly two-thirds of Americans prefer to have all their eggs in one basket when it comes to their financial needs. The study also found few Americans actually conduct business with their primary bank when it comes to acquiring a loan as 78% obtained their auto loan from a lender other than their primary bank while 72% secured their mortgage from an institution other than their primary bank. Additionally, 77% use a credit card from a financial institution other than their primary bank. The study by InsightExpress, involving 500 banks, found that the lack of incentives was the key reason the primary bank cannot fulfill all their customer’s needs. About 28% want the opportunity to earn rewards points towards merchandise or travel and 41% want reduced bank/ATM fees.

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KinderCare Offers the Discover Card Payment Option

Discover Financial Services has sealed a deal to become the exclusive credit card payment option for KinderCare Learning Centers and its 1,200 child care centers nationwide. In the past, KinderCare Learning Centers accepted only personal checks, cashier’s checks, and money orders. As an additional convenience, all customers can now pay tuition with their Discover Card or view their KinderCare account 7 days a week at www.kindercare.com. Discover Financial Services, Inc., a business unit of Morgan Stanley, operates the Discover Card brands and the Discover Business Services network for its more than 50 million Cardmembers.

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ATM Manager Pro and Alliance Services Integrate

e-ClassicSystems announced plans for an automated interface between “ATM Manager Pro” and Alliance Services’ internal systems. The interface between ATM Manager Pro and the internal systems at Alliance will save time and eliminate errors by enabling the delivery of ATM cash orders directly from the ATM Manager Pro solution installed at Financial Institutions and ISO deployers. The interface will also enable Alliance to export cash reconciliation information for the ATM cash delivery and report all necessary data including ATM counters and vault residual totals. Alliance Services, LLC, headquartered in Marietta, Georgia, is a recognized leader in the delivery of ATM Cash, and First Line/Second Line Maintenance services.

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SPS Lands the Winmark Gift Card Contract

Minneapolis-based Winmark Corporation, the franchisor of “Play It Again Sports” and “Plato’s Closet”, has signed a stored value gift card agreement with San Diego-based Secure Payment Systems for its 800+ stores. Secure Payment Systems, Inc. ([www.securepaymentsystems.com][1]) was founded in 1996 by Linden (Lin) Fellerman, former 20 year employee and 10 year President of the Telecredit / Equifax Check Services subsidiaries. Winmark Corporation ([www.winmarkcorporation.com][2]) develops franchises, provides business services and operates value-oriented retail concepts for stores that buy, sell, trade and consign used and new merchandise.

[1]: http://www.securepaymentsystems.com
[2]: http://www.winmarkcorporation.com

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Gift Cards to be Hotter in the 2004 Holiday Season

A new study has found that gift cards accounted for 10% of the $226 billion in holiday sales last year. The research found that about 75% of U.S. consumers want to receive monetary gifts during the holiday season. The report goes on to say that nearly 70% of holiday shoppers this year would like to give cash, gift cards, or gift certificates. Packaged Facts and MarketResearch.com this week released “Holiday Retail Strategies 2004: How Christmas Shopping Trends Will Affect the 2004 Season.” The report uncovers new trends in Christmas retailing that have emerged from the last two years and outlines the environment, strategies and tactics, needed to compete in 2004 and beyond.

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CUs Have Nothing to Fear in Agent Card Deals

A brokerage firm executive reassured credit unions this week that selling a card portfolio and entering into an agent relationship does not produce cross-selling by the portfolio partner, loss of identity and control, and increased card rates. Rick Spell of Morgan Keegan explained to attendees of the TNB Card Services “Executive Conference” that cross-selling is prohibited by contract and the credit union name remains on all credit cards and marketing materials, with the credit union having final say over marketing materials sent to its members and potential members. Spell also said most cardholders get a better card rate than they had before a sale/agent contract. The two-day “Executive Conference” is an annual event for TNB Card Services credit union customers.

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BannerDirect Signs a New Regional Director

NYC-based direct marketing agency, BannerDirect, has hired Brian Connelly, formerly of Venture Direct Worldwide and McCann Erickson, as Regional Director. Mr. Connelly will be reporting to Patricia Kelly, Executive Vice President of Account Management and Strategic Planning. With his ten years of marketing experience, Brian will be a vital asset in helping BannerDriect continue the firm s expansion and development, says Ms. Kelly. BannerDirect is a full-service direct marketing agency recognized for the development and execution of direct response marketing programs for clients in the financial, entertainment, telecommunications, associations, retail, medical and publishing industries.

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ATM Mandates May Cost CUs $200 Million

A new white paper predicts that during the next 18 months credit unions could be facing $200 million in potential ATM capital investments due to mandates set to take effect. The mandates include “Triple DES”, “EPP,” and the ADA. The CO-OP Network says credit unions currently own more than 20,000 ATMs, and the mandated changes/product upgrades confronting every ATM owner range from $1,000 up to $35,000 per machine. Yesterday, the network issued a white paper titled “Managing ATM Capital Investments: Strategies for Credit Unions,” which provides a guide for navigating regulatory requirements and ATM upgrade options now and in the future. The CO-OP Network has nearly 1,500 member credit unions, more than 18,000 surcharge-free ATMs, 77 million monthly transactions and 18.5 million cardholders.

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Yahoo! PayDirect Adds a MoneyGram Transfer Service

Viad/Travelers Express Company’s MoneyGram Payment Systems subsidiary has teamed with Yahoo! to launch “MoneyGram e-Money Transfer” on Yahoo!’s “PayDirect” Web site. Recipients can pick up the funds the same day at any of MoneyGram’s over 60,000 agent locations world-wide. As the result of a recent agreement between MoneyGram and Yahoo!, a leading provider of comprehensive online products and services to consumers and businesses worldwide, the MoneyGram service on the Internet is now also available through Yahoo! PayDirect’s Web site.

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Mashreqbank Holds 33% of the UAE Card Market

The partnership between Mashreqbank and Samsung to issue a co-branded MasterCard is bearing fruit as one in every three new credit cards issued in the UAE today is a Mashreqbank card. The “Mashreqbank Samsung MasterCard,” launched five months ago, is expanding and now offers a 0% interest rate, double points, and an incentive gift when transferring balances from a non Mashreqbank credit card.

This the first time Samsung has partnered with a bank to offer a co-branded credit card. Points from the card can be exchanged for Samsung products and free tickets on Lufthansa, Delta, Emirates Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, Singapore Airlines, and Qatar Airways. Mashreqbank also recently introduced the “WOW! MasterCard” and “WOW! VISA.” The “WOW!” is a smart card with 1,000 participating merchants using smart card readers to rebate between 5% and 35% back to the cardholder. Mashreqbank was the first bank to introduce credit cards in the UAE in 1982 and offers the popular “MashreqMillionnaire” credit card program. It is the largest private bank in the UAE with 34 branches.

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