VISA Offers Gift Card Balance Data at the POS

VISA USA has introduced “VISA POS Balance Inquiry Service” and Best Buy has become the first national retailer to adopt the service. The systems enhancement enables merchants to inform consumers of the remaining balance on their VISA branded gift cards at the point of sale. VISA says the service enhances a consumer’s experience at the register by reducing the potential for declined transactions and lost sales due to non-sufficient funds on “VISA Gift” cards. With the “VISA POS Balance Inquiry Service,” consumers making purchases with VISA Gift cards will receive their remaining available card balance information on the bottom of their receipt at participating retailers. In addition, a customer will be able to split payment between their “VISA Gift” card and another form of payment if necessary during checkout.

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Hypercom Unveils New PIN Pad

Hypercom unveiled a new payment device to boost PIN-based card transactions. The new “S9” PIN pad has been “PED” and “EMV Level 1” certified and “Infoguard” tested. The device has a tamper-resistant case, separate security processor, “Master/Session DES,” “Triple DES” and “DUKPT” support. The “S9” can be physically deployed as a hand-over or countertop PIN entry device or cleverly mounted to ergonomically integrate into the existing point-of-purchase design. The “HyperWare FPE” toolkit eliminates the need to write new code, facilitating rapid integration into existing POS systems.

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IBM Gets Secure Credit Card Patent

IBM announced yesterday that received a patent for its “Secure Credit Card” last year. The credit card features an embedded electronics and a keypad, and requires a PIN number to activate the card for a purchase. Each time the PIN is entered, a unique code is generated that allows a transaction to be completed. Without the secret PIN, the card is useless if lost or stolen. The patent was among 3,415 patents awarded to IBM last year.

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Equitex/Chex Services Sues Cash Systems

CO-based Equitex/Chex Services has filed a lawsuit against Native American Cash Systems of Florida and Cash Systems over the recent loss of its contracts at five Seminole Tribe of Florida casinos. Equitex, Inc. is a holding company operating through its wholly owned subsidiary Chex Services of Minnetonka, Minnesota, as well as its majority owned subsidiary Denaris Corporation.

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BEETLE/OnePOS Introduced

Wincor Nixdorf has introduced an integrated, retail-hardened enclosure for its “BEETLE POS” systems. The BEETLE /OnePOS was designed with simplified serviceability, aesthetics and operator ease-of-use in mind. Wincor Nixdorf’s BEETLE family is the most prolific open POS platform in the world. Highly versatile, the BEETLE addresses the complete spectrum of retail touch points, including thin-client POS terminals, lean- and thick-client POS systems, self-service kiosks, inquiry and service desk workstations, and mobile POS devices. Wincor Nixdorf Inc. is one of the fastest-growing providers of IT products and solutions for the retail and banking industries.

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Symbol Technologies Releases New Terminal

Symbol Technologies has introduced a “Windows CE .NET”-based payment transaction terminal that complies with “VISA PED” security requirements. The new “Symbol PD 8500” is a signature-capture and payment transaction system with an interactive color display. The product also includes industry resistive, passive pen technology. The “Symbol PD 8500” features on-board Ethernet and Wi-Fi capabilities for seamless integration into the retail enterprise network and central device management. Using the “Symbol Wireless Networker PC Card” through the PCMCIA slot, the payment terminal can wirelessly transmit transaction information and be connected to POS systems. The terminal has a 5.7-inch color VGA display that includes a pressure sensitive touch pad.

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Vietcombank to Issue MasterCards and Sponsor 11 Affiliate-Members

Vietcombank announced it will sponsor 11 commercial banks to be affiliate-members of MasterCard. The partnership is the first-of-its-kind in the country with the signing ceremony attended by key officials from the government and the State Bank of Vietnam. Under the terms of the agreement, MasterCard has appointed Vietcombank as its “Sponsoring Principal” in the country that, on behalf of its affiliate members, will acquire and exclusively issue a range of MasterCard-branded payments cards. Vietcombank will also issue MasterCard electronic and MasterCard-branded debit cards exclusively, commencing in the second quarter.
Vietcombank will also launch a series of acquiring initiatives including deployment of ATM, “Cash Dispensing Machines,” and “Electronic Data Capture” machines on behalf of its commercial banks. The affiliate-member banks include: Techcombank, VPBank, Military Bank, Habubank, VIB Bank, NASB, Housing Bank, Tan Viet Bank, Viet A Bank, Chohung Vina Bank and Maritime Bank.

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VISA MOVIN’ OUT Ad Hits Airwaves Today

VISA USA is launching a TV commercial today to support the national tour of the award-winning musical, “MOVIN’ OUT.” The last time VISA sponsored a single theatrical touring production was on the national tour of “A Chorus Line.” The ad, created by BBDO New York, features music by Billy Joel, choreography by Twyla Tharp and some of the original Broadway cast members. VISA is the only card accepted for single-ticket sales of the national tour of “MOVIN’ OUT,” which starts January 27th at Detroit’s Fisher Theatre. VISA is also the only card accepted at the American Theatre Wing’s Antoinette Perry “Tony” Awards. Additionally, VISA has produced six Broadway-themed national TV commercials including three national television spots promoting the Tony Awards. Additionally, VISA is the presenting sponsor of Live Broadway’s Open House Tours.

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LG Card Finalizes Bail-Out Plan, Averts Bankruptcy

LG Card continues to operate after agreeing on a 3.78 trillion won bailout package that included help from the state-run Korea Development Bank and ten of its creditor banks. More than half of the package included a debt-for-equity plan that involved about two trillion won in debt. Under the rescue plan, KDB ended up owning 25% of LG Card in return for investing 500 billion won. National Agricultural Cooperative Federation and Kookmin are the next biggest contributors in the debt-for-equity plan, taking a 16% and 14% stake respectively. The creditor banks provided loans of 1.65 trillion won under the rescue plan. Nine of the ten creditor banks will be protected from providing additional loans. However, KDB has pledged to inject another 125 billion won into LG Card if necessary. The South Korean Financial Supervisory Service recently reported that LG Card’s delinquency rate rose from 11.4% in October to 14.7% for November.

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Citi Card Payment Rewards Program Launched

Citibank has launched a program to reward on-time payments with points. The new “Citi Card Payment Rewards” program offers one point for each on-time dollar paid. Cardholders who make six consecutive on-time payments receive 600 bonus points. Cardholders who sign up for the “AutoPay” service receive an extra 250 points. Points can be redeemed for a lower interest rate, cash rebate, merchandise, gift certificates, gift cards, or discounts. Cardholders can lower their APR by 1% for 3 months for 3,000 points. Interest rates can be dropped 1% for 12 months for 5,000 points, or 2% for 12 months for 10,000 points. A $25 gift card can be purchased with 3,000 points. Cardholders can also opt for a cash rebate: 3,000 points for $15; 5,000 points for $25; or 10,000 points for $50.

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Avantel and Todito Sign Deals to Use PinXpress

Avantel and Todito have signed deals for San Diego-based EWI Prepaid to distribute these companies’ prepaid services electronically with its “PinXpress” payment processing solution. Avantel will offer its prepaid long-distance services electronically for the first time through “PinXpress.” Consumers can purchase an Avantel prepaid long-distance from a POS retailer and instantly receive a PIN to use the service. Avantel is serves the corporate and residential market and is owned by MCI Worldcom and Banamex. Todito is Mexico’s leader in prepaid Internet connections and is aggressively targeting the North American Hispanic Internet market. With “PinXpress,” Todito will offer its prepaid Todito ISP service for Internet connections in the USA and Mexico. Todito is jointly owned Grupo Dataflux and TV Azteca.

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