VISA Renews Hotline Program with WorldTeq Group

MD-based WorldTeq Group, a full-service solutions provider of Affinity Services including long distance, toll-free services, hosting services, and financial services has renewed the U.S. “VISA Hotline” program. WorldTeq Group International offers a wide range of telecommunications, merchandising and financial services with related products via independent agents, associations, sales organizations, and affiliate marketing.

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First Data Nabs Schoedinger to Head Card Issuing Services

First Data has hired James Schoedinger, formerly president of Transamerica Real Estate Information Services, and a sixteen-year veteran of GE Capital credit card businesses, as president of the company’s Card Issuing Services business unit. Schoedinger most recently served as president of Transamerica Real Estate Information Services, one of Transamerica Corporation’s largest business units, where he led a turnaround of the business using Six Sigma quality initiatives to drive out costs while increasing the quality of service. He also led the company’s commercial and consumer finance business, which included a variety of financial products, such as vendor leasing and private label consumer credit cards. First Data serves approximately 3 million merchant locations, 1,400 card issuers and millions of consumers, making it easy, fast and secure for people and businesses to buy goods and services using virtually any form of payment.

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InteliData Technologies Snags Kracher as Marketing Overseer

VA-based InteliData Technologies has hired appointed Karen Kracher, formerly with TCF Financial, Travelers Express, and Deluxe Corporation, as Chief Sales and Marketing Officer. With more than 25 years of executive experience in sales, marketing and operations within the financial services and electronic payments industries, Kracher most recently served as Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing for John H. Harland Company, where she had P&L responsibility for a $500 million business unit. With over a decade of experience in the industry, InteliData provides Internet banking and Electronic Bill Payment and Presentment (EBPP) technology and services to leading banks, credit unions, brokerage firms, financial institution processors and credit card issuers.

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Family Dollar Deploys Concord PIN Debit

Family Dollar announced Friday it has completed its roll-out of Concord EFS PIN-secured debit. More than 4,800 of Family Dollar’s 5,100 stores are now using Concord to enable PIN-secured debit payments and process transactions. Star is among the networks that will switch the new transactions. During the roll-out, Family Dollar trained store district managers and educated consumers through an in-store promotion program using banners and decals at entryways. They also placed signage on POS terminals encouraging consumers to use their ATM/debit card.

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TSYS Job Cuts Likely as Evaluation gets Underway

TSYS indicated Friday it is in the process of evaluating every job within the company, and that the first job cuts in the Company’s history are likely. While the impact of the merger between Bank One and Chase on TSYS is cloudy, the Company says the process of migrating Bank One from First Data to in-house processing, via TSYS, is proceeding according to schedule, and is expected to be complete by the fourth quarter of this year. Chase uses First Data. The Company’s plans to eliminate positions is a result of a number of factors, including its forecasted slower growth in 2004. TSYS says details of the reduction will be confirmed as soon as the company’s internal assessment is completed. TSYS has about 5,700 employees worldwide. About 5,200 work in the Columbus, Georgia area.

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U.K. Egg Portfolio Draws Strong Interest

There is speculation that more issuers are lined up to take a crack at bidding on Prudential’s 79% stake in the “Egg” credit card portfolio. The mad scramble reportedly includes MBNA, Royal Bank of Scotland, Capital One, GE Consumer Finance, Barclays, Citigroup, HSBC, BNP Paribas, and National Australia Bank. The strong interest in purchasing the three million account portfolio is pushing up its potential price to more than $2.9 billion. Prudential put its stake on the sale block three months ago after “Egg” lost nearly $127 million in the first three months of 2003 in regard to its business in France. Egg produced a profit in the U.K. of $103 million during the same period. The issuer ended up with an overall pre-tax loss of about $45 million through the third quarter. Egg launched the “la Carte Egg VISA” card in France during November 2002 after purchasing Zebank, a local Internet bank for $9 million. Since its launch in France it has signed up less than 60,000 cardholders. In the U.K. Egg has signed up 3.1 million cardholders since its launch in October 1998.

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National Consumer Protection Week Launched This Week

Federal, state and local agencies, as well as national consumer organizations, have launched the sixth annual “National Consumer Protection Week” for February 1st to the 7th, with the theme: “Financial Literacy: Earning a Lifetime of Dividends.” During NCPW, representatives from federal, state and local agencies and national consumer organizations will help consumers of all ages understand how the decisions they make in the marketplace affect their overall fiscal fitness. The FDIC insures deposits at the nation’s 9,237 banks and savings associations and it promotes the safety and soundness of these institutions by identifying, monitoring and addressing risks to which they are exposed.

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Wal-Mart to Accept Jeanie Cards Next Month

Wal-Mart Stores announced Friday that effective February 1st, “Jeanie” debit cardholders will be able to make PIN-based purchases at Wal-Mart and SAM’S CLUB stores. The “Jeanie” network was launched in 1977 by Fifth Third Bank, and today has nine million cardholders and 14,000 merchants in the USA. Fifth Third Bank Processing Solutions processes over nine billion ATM and POS transactions per year for more than 198,000 merchant locations and 1,500 financial institutions worldwide.

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ACS Nails $33 MM Contract for SF FasTrak Toll System

Dallas-based ACS has been awarded a $33 million, five-year contract by the Bay Area Toll Authority to fully integrate and operate the San Francisco Bay Area regional “FasTrak” electronic toll collection system. With this contract, ACS will consolidate all functions of the Bay Area’s FasTrak systems, including customer service and violations processing, under a single service provider. For the first phase of the project, ACS will operate the two existing service centers, one that serves the Golden Gate Bridge and the other that serves the region’s seven state-owned bridges. ACS is the nation’s leader in electronic toll collection, processing over $2.2 billion in toll revenue and supporting over 5.3 million motorists annually.

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Liquor Gift Cards Hot in New Hampshire

The New Hampshire State Liquor Commission reported that holiday gift card sales at 72 state-run liquor stores in New Hampshire made up 62% of total gift card sales last year. Gift card sales figures shot up in the seven days preceding Christmas, accounting for 61% of the cards sold during the month of December, and 40% of all cards sold in the last six months of 2003. The Commission is a merchant customer of Dallas-based payment processor Paymentech. The New Hampshire stores began selling Paymentech’s plastic gift cards, known as “FlexCache,” after transitioning from paper gift certificates last year. The switch from paper to plastic resulted in a four-fold increase in gift card sales volume from 2002 to 2003. The “FlexCache” program continues to gain popularity. From 2002 to 2003, Paymentech reported a 230% increase in FlexCache transactions.

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Paymentech Invades Europe with a Dublin Office

Texas-based Paymentech is opening its first European office in the Eastpoint Business Park in Dublin. Several of Paymentech’s major merchants, including America Online, Symantec, Lands End and Amazon.com, already conduct business in Europe. Paymentech says a number of new product and technology initiatives are already in progress that will benefit European merchants. John Shirey, Paymentech Managing Director, will head the company’s European office. Privately-held Paymentech and its Canadian affiliate, processed 4.2 billion transactions and $123 billion in bank card sales in 14 currencies during 2002.

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