PDS and TransAction Unlimited Sign Referral Agreement

TX-based Payment Data Systems has signed a multi-year referral agreement with TX-based ISO TransAction Unlimited, that is expected to open new merchant accounts that have been previously closed to TU due to not having an ACH offering. Management anticipates new volume of transactions will be added to Payment Data Systems’ growing base of processing traffic and expects additions to its growing sales and marketing force (extending the company’s national reach) without adding corporate expense overhead. Payment Data Systems, Inc., is an Integrated Payments Solution Provider delivering comprehensive, cost-effective solutions to billers and retailers for the processing and management of electronic payments via the Internet, point of sale, or payments taken by Customer Service Representatives or an Interactive Voice Response. TransAction Unlimited is a significant provider of merchant and consumer services across the nation.

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FRB & FTC Want Some Feedback on the FACT Act

The Federal Reserve Board and the Federal Trade Commission are requesting comment on interim final rules and proposed rules to establish effective dates for certain provisions of the “Fair and Accurate Transactions Act of 2003.” The agencies are jointly adopting interim final rules that establish December 31st, as the effective date for the preemption provisions of the “FACT Act” as well as provisions authorizing the agencies to adopt rules or take other actions to implement the “FACT Act.” The current preemption provisions of the “FCRA” expire on January 1, 2004. The Board and the FTC also are jointly proposing rules establishing a schedule of effective dates for other provisions of the “FACT Act” that do not contain effective dates. The joint proposed rules would establish March 31st as the effective date for provisions of the “FACT Act” that do not require significant changes to business procedures. Comments on the joint interim final rules and proposed rules are due by January 12, 2004.

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RED CROSS MASTERCARD

BMO Bank of Montreal and the Canadian Red Cross have introduced a new affinity credit card. The “Canadian Red Cross Mosaik MasterCard” directs a percentage of card purchases to the Canadian Red Cross. With a “Mosaik MasterCard,” cardholders can customize their card at any time by choosing the reward program (AIR MILES or CashBack), interest rate plan and special features that best meet their needs.
BMO Bank of Montreal is the largest MasterCard issuer in Canada. BMO Bank of Montreal launched the first “Mosaik MasterCard” in September 2002. The new card offered consumers 900 potential combinations of features and pricing.

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OPC Captures Tulsa Property Tax Bills

The Tulsa County Treasurer’s Office has signed an agreement with Official Payments Corporation to allow taxpayers to pay property tax bills using their MasterCard, VISA, American Express or Discover payment cards. Official Payments provides credit card payment services for the Internal Revenue Service, 22 state governments, the District of Columbia and more than 1,400 local government clients across 50 states. Tier is a provider of transaction and online payment processing and packaged software and systems implementation services primarily for federal, state and local government clients.

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Cardtronics Uses TNS Connect for ATM Connectivity

Cardtronics, owner/manager of 12,500 ATMs, has selected Transaction Network Services’ “TNS Connect” to support network connectivity of its nationwide ATM portfolio. Under the multi-year agreement, Cardtronics will use TNS Connect, a dedicated, private IP-based network, to support its nationwide ATM portfolio. TNS Connect is a dedicated, private IP-based network that transports ATM transactions to the required processor hosts, while adhering to the highest security standards. Cardtronics is the nation’s largest independent owner/operator of ATMs with a network of over 12,500 locations operating in every major U.S. market. Transaction Network Services is one of the leading providers of business-critical, cost-effective data communications services for transaction-oriented applications.

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First Data and Bank One Come to Terms

First Data Corp., a national leader in electronic commerce and payment services, today announced that it has agreed to continue providing card processing services, including output services, to Bank One beyond June 30, 2004 and up to September 30, 2005 at the parties’ discretion. The agreement resolves a pending arbitration. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

About First Data

First Data Corp. (NYSE: FDC), with global headquarters in Denver, helps power the global economy. As a leader in electronic commerce and payment services, 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. With 29,000 employees worldwide, the company provides credit, debit, smart card and stored-value card issuing and merchant transaction processing services; Internet commerce solutions; money transfer services; money orders; and check processing and verification services throughout the United States. First Data also offers a variety of payment services in the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, China, Japan, Mexico, Spain, the Netherlands, the Middle East and Germany. Its Western Union and Orlandi Valuta money transfer networks include approximately 169,000 Agent locations in more than 195 countries and territories. For more information, please visit the company’s Web site at .

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Cale Systems and 8D Technologies Partner for Montreal Project

Cale Access AB, and its North American subsidiary, Cale Systems, has teamed with 8D Technologies to deploy advanced parking payment terminals in Montreal. The terminals are equipped with the 8D “ECO” transactional module, a proprietary technology, which allows for secure electronic payment in real time via wireless communication. The solar powered terminals are also totally autonomous from the power grid thanks to 8D ECO’s advanced power management capacities. As part of the 8D ECO solution, parking officers are instantly provided with the payment status of all surrounding parking spaces through a handheld computer (Palm type) accessing the system by wireless communication. Following the success of the initial testing process, the SociŽtŽ en commandite Stationnement de Montreal is now installing street units in the downtown Montreal area, as part of “Phase II” of its pilot project. Cale Systems specializes in the development, marketing, and technical support of cash-collection equipment for public and private parking spaces.

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ECHO Revenues Up 28% and Posts a Profit

Electronic Clearing House reported yesterday that revenue for the quarter ending September 30th was up more than 28% to $11 million. The processor also reported net income of $518,000 for the quarter, compared to a net loss one-year ago. Bankcard processing and transaction revenue increased 21% to $8.5 million. The increase was primarily due to its merchants’ strong organic growth in bankcard processing volume. Check-related revenues increased 62% to $2.5 million, primarily due to strong growth in the ACH and check conversion services and the revenue generated from the “VISA POS” program. ECHO says a national retail merchant fully implemented the new VISA program in June. ECHO also noted that gross margins from processing and transaction services jumped to 38% in the quarter from 28% in the year-ago quarter. For complete details on ECHO’s latest performance visit CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]).

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

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CheckFree Acquires a Walk-In Payment Network

CheckFree confirmed this morning it is acquiring American Payment Systems for $110 million. CT-based APS provides walk-in bill payment services through a network of more than 8,000 retail and agent locations, which reaches 70% of consumers in the top 75 U.S. metropolitan areas. APS says it enables 7 million households to pay for services in-person. This year, APS expects to process nearly 120 million payments. As part of the deal, CheckFree also is picking up APS’ prepaid stored value MasterCard business. However, CheckFree is not acquiring APS’ prepaid telephony business, which is managed via a joint venture and is not aligned strategically with CheckFree’s goals for the acquisition. The lines of business that CheckFree is acquiring have combined annual revenue, net of certain agent commissions, of more than $40 million per year. The deal is expected to close before June 30, 2004.

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Cash is No Longer King in the USA

A new study has found that cash and checks now account for 47% of consumers’ in-store purchases, as compared to 57% in 1999 and 51% in 2001. Four years ago, debit represented only 21% of in-store transactions, but now nearly one out of three in-store purchases are made with a debit card. This is the first time that electronic payments have surpassed cash and checks as consumers’ preferred payment method for in-store purchases. The study by the American Bankers Association and Boston-based strategy consulting firm Dove Consulting also found that cash remains the single most frequently used payment method in stores, but its share of the transaction mix has fallen from 39% in 1999 to 32% in 2003. Checks also play a diminishing role at the point-of-sale, accounting for just 15% of purchases. Comparatively, consumer use of credit cards for in-store purchases has remained relatively constant at 21%. At 2%, the “other” payments category is made up of prepaid cards.

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MULTOS Releases an On-Card and Off-Card Specification

The “MULTOS Step/One” specifications are now ready for implementation. The specifications consist of two parts; an on-card specification defining application establishment, the API and security targets; an off-card element defining key generation and management processes, load and delete protocols and certificate formats. “MULTOS Step/One” exploits much of the security, flexibility and software interoperability of the original MULTOS platform, and affords issuers better choice and control by allowing them to individually manage vendors across the supply chain Ð from operating system implementers to card personalization bureau. First silicon is expected in the first half of 2004.

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Sears Canada Receives Government Approval for its New Bank Subsidiary

The Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions has approved the opening of Sears Canada Bank. Current “Sears Card” and “Sears MasterCard” holders will receive an information package regarding their new issuer during the first quarter. Sears Canada has been ranked as the most trusted company in Canada. Sears Canada submit its application to the OSFI for a federally regulated bank in July. The company says the establishment of a bank will, among other things, facilitate the offering of a wide variety of innovative MasterCard products to customers. The Sears Card represents the single largest credit card franchise in Canada. Last year, the company introduced the “Sears MasterCard.” First rolled out in Ontario, the card has been introduced in British Columbia and Alberta. Sears Canada says a bank will bring greater regulatory certainty and harmonization across Sears Canada’s national financial services operations.

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