AmEx Launches Aeroplan Cards

American Express has rolled-out three new co-branded charge cards following the finalization of its recent deal with Air Canada. The new “AeroplanPlus Card,” “AeroplanPlus Gold Card,” and, “AeroplanPlus Platinum Card” reward users with 1.0 mile to 1.5 miles for each dollar charged. “Aeroplan” also joined “Membership Rewards” as part of the agreement. Beginning, February 16th, cardholders enrolled in AmEx’s existing “Membership Rewards” points program will be able to convert their points earned on charge cards into “Aeroplan Miles,” on a one-for-one basis. The blue-colored AmEx “AeroplanPlus Card” earns one “Aeroplan Mile” for every dollar spent on purchases on the card and carries a $60 annual fee. The AmEX “AeroplanPlus Gold Card” earns one “Aeroplan Mile” for every dollar spent on purchases up to $10,000 annually and then 1.25 “Aeroplan Miles” per dollar in purchases over $10,000 each year. Charter members can earn as much as 1.35 “Aeroplan Miles” on annual purchases when they spend over $10,000. New cardholders are also eligible for an Air Canada companion ticket in 2004. The “Gold Card” has an annual fee of $120. The AmEx “AeroplanPlus Platinum Card” earns 1.25 “Aeroplan Miles” for every dollar spent on purchases up to $25,000, and 1.5 “Aeroplan Miles” on purchases thereafter each year. Charter members can earn as much as 1.6 “Aeroplan Miles” on annual purchases when they spend over $25,000. Additional benefits include an Air Canada companion ticket, Air Canada “Priority Check-In” and access to Maple Leaf and Arrivals lounges across Canada and in key international locations. The “Platinum Card” carries an annual fee of $399. Platinum supplementary cards are $175 and Gold supplementary cards are free. Every new cardholder will receive a welcome bonus of 2,500 or 5,000 “Aeroplan Miles,” depending on the card. AmEx won the right to team up with Aeroplan after the court overseeing Air Canada’s restructuring opened up the airline’s card partnership contracts in April. Under the terms of the agreements, American Express is providing Air Canada with an $80 million credit facility, repaid as “Aeroplan Miles” are purchased.

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NTT DATA Partners with CheckFree i-Solutions

NTT DATA Corporation has signed an agreement with CheckFree i-Solutions to develop advanced e-billing solutions for the Japanese business and consumer markets. NTT DATA is Japan’s largest systems integrator and payment service provider, and CheckFree is the leading provider of e-billing technology and payment services. NTT says the CheckFree “i-Series” software proved it could support complex Japanese business-to-business e-billing applications
through its ability to store and manage complex hierarchical data structures, a powerful range of data analysis and graphing tools and the solution’s proven scalability. At the same time, “i-Series” offers a rapid and low cost deployment, facilitated by its open architecture and a comprehensive suite of
powerful application design and administration tools. NTT believes that with Japan’s high Internet penetration and increasing requirement for advanced e-billing services, the company is strategically placed to help billers provide differentiating services and a higher level of value-added functionality than their competition.

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Gas Cards Hot in Hawaii and Alaska

A new survey shows that half of American consumers would consider walking out of a store without making a purchase if their debit cards were not accepted. Furthermore, nearly two-thirds of respondents said their feelings toward a store would be negatively impacted if a merchant stopped accepting debit cards. The findings come from a new Harris Interactive survey, sponsored by MasterCard, also found that 77% considered debit’s transaction speed and ability to save time at the checkout counter as extremely/very important. More than 80% of adults using debit cards noted convenience and safety to be extremely/very important attributes, as opposed to carrying cash. The survey was conducted in early December with a nationwide sample of 2,465 adults.

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Elvis Presley MasterCard Gift Card Introduced

Memphis-based Clarity Payment Solutions has partnered with Elvis Presley Enterprises and KeyBank, to market and issue the “Elvis Presley Limited Edition Prepaid MasterCard” gift card. Clarity will host an e-commerce website, [www.elvisgiftcard.com][1], where consumers can order the limited edition gift cards online. The gift cards can be purchased in amounts ranging between $25 and $100. Elvis Presley Enterprises is aggressively involved in a worldwide licensing program, merchandising, music publishing, and television, film, video and Internet projects. Clarity Payment Solutions is a leading provider of prepaid card solutions that utilize the MasterCard(R), Visa(R), as well as EFT and ATM networks.

[1]: http://www.elvisgiftcard.com

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Security Service FCU Outsources to CMC

San Antonio-based Security Service FCU has selected CMC to provide chargeback and security/fraud servicing, as well as marketing support, for its VISA and MasterCard portfolios. Security Service FCU is the eleventh largest credit union in the country, having surpassed $3 billion in assets last year. SSFCU has a diverse membership and currently serves more than 500,000 members worldwide. CMC is a leading outsource solution for financial institutions and retailers in the credit and debit card, merchant, and private label business. Through its two multi-channel contact centers and processing partners, CMC provides turnkey and menu-driven superior quality servicing for clients throughout the United States and Canada.

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Cap One Introduces Go Miles Card

Capital One yesterday launched a new air miles card offering low redemption levels. The new “Go Miles VISA or MasterCard” reimburses cardholders for buying a plane ticket on the card. Under the program, cardholders shop for the lowest fares and most convenient itineraries, charge the ticket to the card, and then receive a cash credit for the ticket based on previously earned miles. Capital One says the new program takes the hassle out of free travel since it does not use set mileage plateaus. Reimbursements can be earned with as few as 9,000 miles. To receive a $100 credit, 9,000 miles are required; 15,300 miles for a $170 credit, and, 19,800 miles for a $220 credit. The “Go Miles” card carries a $19 annual membership fee and interest rates that start at 9.9%. Cardholders can earn up to 5,000 bonus miles for transferring balances. The Air Travelers Association this morning ranked the card as #1 due to lower annual fee and 9,000 minimum redemption level. However, the nominal value of the miles under the “Go Miles” program is 1.1 cents each compared to 2.5 cents per mile for co-branded airline programs.

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Precidia Joins Vital’s Integration Partner Program

Ottawa-based Precidia Technologies has joined the Vital Processing “Services Integration Partner Program.” Precidia’s “EtherDial” and “Ether232AT” products are “Class B” approved with Vital. The “EtherDial” migrates transaction data from a dial-based infrastructure to a TCP/IP network, eliminating the merchant’s dependence on a dedicated telephone line for transaction processing. The “Ether232AT” connects existing dial-based payment terminals to an Ethernet LAN, acting as a modem replacement. The Vital “VIP” program consists of software developers, system integrators and third-party vendors with approved POS applications to process transactions on Vital’s network.

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Hispanic Debit Cards in Development

Los Angeles-based Direct Response Financial Services is preparing to unveil the “La Vida Buena Card” and the “La Vida Buena Tarjeta” debit cards for the U.S. Hispanic community. DCS currently has two Internet web sites in development that will feature the cards’ benefits and affinity incentives. The web sites are located at www.lavidabuenacard.com and www.lavidabuenatarjeta.com. Direct Response Financial Services, Inc. makes it easier, faster and more secure for people and businesses to buy goods and services, using virtually any form of payment: credit, debit, smart card, stored-value card, electronic check at the point-of-sale, or over the Internet.

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Thales e-Security Launches EMV Migration Guide

Thales e-Security has launched an EMV easy migration guide. With the European migration date fast approaching and with other regions also beginning their migration process, the guide provides important information on migration timetables, testing periods, as well as which vendors they should choose to help facilitate the move. Issues the EMV guide highlights include details on EMV compliant financial and non-financial applications for smart cards; application security requirements that have to be considered; how to select the right sort of smart card platform; upgrading the existing back office systems; information regarding data preparation and card personalization; and, the impact upon acquiring and terminal network challenges. The guide also makes clear the legal requirements banks face when migrating to EMV. It also provides details on all key technology vendors that are mentioned within the guide.

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VISA Extras is Officially Launched

VISA USA officially launched a new payment card rewards program offering points on everyday expenditures. The new “VISA Extras” program also offers the ability to link cards to accrue points across both small business commercial cards and personal cards. The program enables issuers that currently do not have co-branded or affinity programs to offer a cost-effective loyalty initiative and to readily customize the program for their respective market segments. Cardholders earn points on all credit and debit card purchases, but not PIN transactions. Cardholders may redeem points for more than 100 rewards available from a wide range of 50 partners including: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, BP Amoco, GAP, Marriott, Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, Staples and Starbucks. VISA says its research indicates that 76% of small business owners are interested in earning rewards when paying for their business expenses with a credit or debit card.

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Americans Say Debit or Forget It

A new survey shows that half of American consumers would consider walking out of a store without making a purchase if their debit cards were not accepted. Furthermore, nearly two-thirds of respondents said their feelings toward a store would be negatively impacted if a merchant stopped accepting debit cards. The findings come from a new Harris Interactive survey, sponsored by MasterCard, also found that 77% considered debit’s transaction speed and ability to save time at the checkout counter as extremely/very important. More than 80% of adults using debit cards noted convenience and safety to be extremely/very important attributes, as opposed to carrying cash. The survey was conducted in early December with a nationwide sample of 2,465 adults.

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CIBC Expands Aerogold Cards

CIBC will offer a new travel benefits package to its “Aerogold VISA” cardholders on February 1st. The “CIBC Club Privileges Travel” program, which carries a $199 annual fee, provides access to all Air Canada “Maple Leaf” lounges across Canada and in key international locations, Air Canada “Priority Check-in” privileges, one annual Air Canada companion ticket, and seven-day multi-trip family travel medical insurance. The program will be offered on the “CIBC Aerogold VISA Card” and the “CIBC Aerogold VISA Card for Business.” CIBC is also awarding a one-time Air Canada companion ticket to all “Aerogold VISA” cardholders as part of a special customer appreciation program. CIBC says more than 2,000 “CIBC Aerogold Card” customers redeem their “Aeroplan Miles” to fly for free every day of the year. Customers can sign up for the “CIBC Club Privileges Travel” program as of Jan. 13. The new travel package will be supported with an extensive national marketing campaign.

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