WOW! CARD

Dubai-based Mashreqbank has launched a new credit card that utilizes the smart chip to reward repeat behavior as opposed to one-time transactional loyalty. The new “WOW! MasterCard” and “WOW! VISA” have more than 1,000 participating merchants with smart card readers that will rebate between 5% and 35% back to the cardholder. Merchants are also offering surprise rewards. The card uses the enhanced XLS payment solution developed by Welcome Real Time. Bank executives say cardholders can earn up to Dh6000 annually, based on spending patterns. Mashreqbank is making the card publicly available and will upgrade all of its 100,000 existing cardholders to the new program. 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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NCO Portfolio Management Revenues Up 22% in 4Q/03

Baltimore-based NCO Portfolio Management reported total collections on purchased accounts receivable for the fourth quarter of $42.0 million, a 26.1% increase from the fourth quarter a year ago. Revenue for the quarter increased 21.6% to $3.6 million. Net income was $2.2 million compared to net income of $2.0 million for 4Q/02. Servicing fees as a percentage of collections for the fourth quarter of 2003 and 2002 were 30% and 31%, respectively. NCPM is a purchaser and manager of delinquent accounts receivable. For complete details on NCO Portfolio Management’s latest performance visit CardData (www.carddata.com).

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ICBA/TCM Bank Add Five Community Agent Banks

ICBA Bancard and its TCM Bank subsidiary have signed five agent banks, including Country Bank of NYC; Liberty 1st Bank of Missouri; Farmers Savings Bank of Iowa; 1st United Bank of North Palm Beach; and Mercantile National Bank of Indiana. Total Card Management’s programs are delivered through ICBA Bancard’s wholly owned subsidiary, TCM Bank, N.A. Total Card Management’s newest participants have all joined the 20/20 agent bank program. ICBA Bancard is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Independent Community Bankers of America, “The Nation’s Leading Voice for Community Banks.”

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Dione’s Bluetooth Smart Card Terminal Produces Strong Response

Dione plc reports it has logged more than 50,000 advance orders for its new, portable smart payment card terminal. The “Xplorer” terminal uses Bluetooth wireless technology and is EMV level 1 and 2 compliant. It is also fully PIN-enabled and certified for “VISA PED” and “ZKA.” In December, Dione Dione launched a new version of its EFTPoS payment terminal which includes an integral modem and printer. The new “Xtreme Integrated” is designed as a compact counter-top solution that can read magstripe and chip cards, is fully PIN enabled and approved to the “VISA PED” standard. The printer is self-feeding and features a clam-shell design for easy paper loading. Dione introduced its “Xtreme Handset” terminal earlier this year. In September, Dione’s “Xtreme” PIN pad and “IC-Xpress” swipe & park card reader passed “VISA’s PIN Entry Device Offline” security requirements.

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Citishare Renews the eFunds EFT Contract

Citigroup’s Citishare Corporation has signed a five-year contract for eFunds to continue providing EFT network switch processing for its worldwide network affiliates. Under the agreement, eFunds will continue processing transactions for Citishare’s worldwide network affiliates, and will continue to provide zero service outage and currency conversion capabilities for Citishare’s international endpoints. Citishare is Citigroup’s retail electronic funds subsidiary. Citigroup, the preeminent global financial services company with some 200 million customer accounts in more than 100 countries, provides consumers, corporations, governments and institutions with a broad range of financial products and services, including consumer banking and credit, corporate and investment banking, insurance, securities brokerage, and asset management. eFunds Corporation is an industry leader with nearly 30 years of experience and expertise in electronic payments.

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Barclays and Lloyds TSB May Follow RBS into the U.S. Credit Card Market

Less than one week after the Royal Bank of Scotland announced its planned acquisition of Connecticut-based People’s Bank credit card business, there is renewed speculation that Barclays and Lloyds TSB are making a run at San Francisco-based Providian’s credit card business. Interestingly, both U.S. banks were previously active in the U.K. credit card business. In April 2002, Barclaycard completed its acquisition of Providian Financial’s U.K. card business. The deal represented $543 million in receivables and approximately 500,000 accounts. Barclaycard took ownership of Providian facilities in London and in Crawley which employed 600 people. In April 2001 People’s Bank sold its U.K. credit card portfolio to Citigroup International PLC for approximately $526 million. Last week, the Royal Bank of Scotland confirmed plans to purchase People’s $2.3 billion credit card business for a 15.5% premium. RBS will maintain People’s credit card business employment base in Bridgeport. Providian currently has $16.9 billion in U.S. credit card outstandings and 10.5 million accounts.

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Taco Bueno Installs VeriFone IP Terminals

VeriFone reported last week that TX-based Taco Bueno has completed its installation of VeriFone “Omni 3750” IP-enabled terminals in its locations nationwide. SageNet, the Oklahoma-based network integrator, designed and installed the IP network over which the “Omni” terminals communicate to Paymentech, Taco Bueno’s credit card processing services bureau. The QSR chain says it upgraded due to its need for payment terminals to process transactions via IP rather than phone lines. Taco Bueno has 124 locations across Texas and Oklahoma.

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Consumers Loan Shop by FICO Score

Fair Isaac launched the first online service to help consumers instantly compare competing loan rates based on FICO credit scores. The “Loan Center” on Fair Isaac’s consumer Web site enables visitors to compare national and local lenders’ rates currently being offered to people in their area who have FICO credit scores similar to their own. If consumers like a particular lender’s posted rate, the site helps connect them with the lender for more information or to apply for the loan. The initial lineup of participants in the “Loan Center” include Countrywide Home Loans, E-LOAN, E-TRADE Mortgage, IndyMac Bank and Pricelinemortgage. Bankrate.com is also participating.

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ABN AMRO Designates Preferred Card

MasterCard and ABN AMRO Bank have signed a multi-year strategic alliance under which MasterCard will be the bank’s preferred payment card brand in more than 60 countries. Although ABN AMRO will continue its multi-brand strategy in selected markets, MasterCard will be ABN AMRO’s preferred business partner and preferred payment card brand world-wide. Netherlands-based ABN AMRO has more than 3,000 branches in more than 60 countries.

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Upgrade Looses UltraCard, Gains StorCard

Seattle-based Upgrade International confirmed Friday it has lost control of UltraCard, Inc. and has signed an agreement to acquire 30% of StorCard, Inc. Under the terms of the credit facility, the outstanding principal balance was convertible, at the option of the Lender, into shares of common equity of UltraCard representing a 51% ownership interest. The Lender converted its loan into UltraCard common stock and sold its position to Gold, Inc. of Metropolitan Dallas, Texas. StorCard Inc. is an innovative developer and provider of breakthrough products expanding the market applications in enterprise, consumer electronics, government, healthcare and financial services for intelligent, secure, and portable information. Upgrade International Corporation through its ownership interest in high capacity smartcard related organizations is engaged in the development and commercialization of high-capacity portable solutions for a broad range of existing and new markets.

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Consumer Credit Tops $2 Trillion, Up 4%

Americans added $30 billion in revolving credit during 2003, ending the year at $742.5 billion. For the first time, overall consumer credit topped $2 trillion. Bank credit card debt (excluding store and gas credit cards) at the end of the third quarter was $645.7 billion, or roughly 88% of total revolving credit. It is expected that card loans, at year-end 2003, will come in around $660 billion. During December, consumers added $1.6 billion in revolving credit according to figures released Friday by the Federal Reserve. Revised figures also show that the November and October figures were better than previously reported. November’s revised annual growth rate is +0.6% compared to -0.9% reported last month. October’s revised annual growth rate is 5.2% compared to 4.3% previously reported. At the end of December, Americans were $2001.7 billion in debt, excluding home mortgages.

REVOLVING CREDIT HISTORICAL ($billions)
Dec03 Nov03 Oct03 Sep03 Aug03 Jul03 Jun03
GRWTH: 2.6% 0.6 5.2 6.8 3.4 1.4 -2.4
$OWED: $742.5 740.9 740.5 737.3 729.1 726.8 725.9

May03 Apr03 Mar03 Feb03 Jan03 Dec02 Nov02
GRWTH: 7.7% 3.4 4.1 5.9 5.2 -6.7 -1.4
$OWED: $727.9 722.8 720.7 718.6 715.5 712.4 716.8

Source: Federal Reserve; revised figures as of 2/06/04;
For complete historical data visit CardData (www.carddata.com)

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Cash Technologies Stays on the AMEX

Los Angeles-based Cash Technologies will remain on the American Stock Exchange after submitting an acceptable plan to regain compliance. As reported in the Company’s SEC filings, it is not in compliance with AMEX listing standards, in particular Section 1003(a)(ii) of the AMEX Company Guide, for having shareholder’s equity of less than $4 million and net losses in three out of its four most recent fiscal years. Cash Technologies, Inc. develops and markets innovative data processing systems, including the BONUS and MFS financial services systems, EMMA transaction processing software and PrISM security system.

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