Cap One’s National Mascot of the Year Draws to a Close

Capital One reported Thursday that its “National Mascot of the Year” competition has received more than 3.5 million votes to-date as it approaches its end on December 22nd. While the BCS can’t seem to offer one undisputed national football champion this year, Capital One is at least offering one true BMOC (Big Mascot On Campus) on Jan. 1, 2004. The Capital One National Mascot of the Year will be selected based on a combination of the online popular vote (50 percent) and an expert panel of judges’ previous rankings (50 percent), which were used to select the 12 members of the Capital One All-America Mascot Team. Capital One Financial Corporation is a holding company whose principal subsidiaries, Capital One Bank and Capital One, F.S.B., offer consumer lending products and Capital One Auto Finance, Inc., which offers auto loan products.

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ESPIRIT CARD

Dusseldorf-based clothes retailer ESPRIT Europe has signed an electronic gift card deal with First Data’s ValueLink subsidiary. The new “ESPRIT Gift Card” and “Christmas Gift Card” will be offered across 130 stores in Germany, Holland, Belgium, Denmark, United Kingdom, France, Austria and Luxembourg. The gift card looks like a credit card and has a barcode that can identify the card, its current balance and previous transactions. The card will replace ESPRIT’s existing paper gift certificate program. ESPRIT Europe GmbH is the European arm of Esprit Holdings Limited, based in Hong Kong. ValueLink has a worldwide client base of 130 major brands.

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On Track Innovations is Raising Cash and Changing Auditors

On Track Innovations, a supplier participating in the “MasterCard PayPass” program in the USA, is seeking to raise $7.4 million in new equity financing. The contactless microprocessor-based smart card solutions provider also announced it is appointing a new independent auditor. OTI will hold a special shareholder meeting on December 30th to vote on the issues. The Company want to appoint Somekh Chaikin, a member of KPMG International, as its independent auditor. OTI also wants to name Eli Akavia, its current auditor, to the board of directors. Besides MasterCard, OTI’s other clients include BP, Scheidt & Bachmann, EDS, First Data Resources, Repsol, the Government of Israel and ICTS.

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Barclays Bank Extends Use of Fair Isaac Solutions for Five Years

Barclays Bank has extended its commitment to use Fair Isaac’s “Falcon Fraud Manager” to protect its credit, debit and corporate card portfolios from payment card fraud for another five years. Barclays also extended its commitment to use “Falcon” as the exclusive fraud protection solution for its “Monument” credit card portfolio. In addition to Fair Isaac’s fraud detection solution, the issuer is currently utilizing Fair Isaac’s “TRIAD” adaptive control system for both customer and account management. Barclays is Europe’s largest card issuer with more than 19.5 million debit and credit cards.

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Aprilia and Moto Guzzi Cards Arrive

GE Retail Sales Finance has launched credit cards for Aprilia and Moto Guzzi brand motorcycles, accessories and apparel at 250 dealer locations nationwide. Customers looking for increased purchasing power will have the opportunity to apply for closed-end financing on any new Aprilia or Moto Guzzi model, as well as instant credit financing on an Aprilia or Moto Guzzi branded credit card. Other key benefits of the program for both brands include low merchant discount rates for revolving promotional financing, prompt funding of sales, seasonal manufacturer sponsored promotions and comprehensive customer service. Aprilia has aggressively expanded in the American market and is now available in more than 125 dealerships and boutique stores across the country. Moto Guzzi, Europe’s oldest continuous manufacturer of motorcycles, was founded in 1921 in Mandello del Lario, Italy, where the motorcycles are still manufactured today.

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Way4CommerSafe to be Deployed by Kazkommerzbank of Kazakhstan

Kazkommerzbank of Kazakhstan has inked an agreement with Brussels-based OpenWay Group and Texas-based iBIZ Software to purchase “Way4CommerSafe.” The “Way4CommerSafe” is a “3-D Secure” solution jointly developed by the two firms. Kazkommertsbank is already offering acquiring services under the “Verified by VISA” acquiring program which performs real-time cardholder authentication and is planning to also use “MasterCard SecureCode.” The bank will also launch a “Verified by VISA” and “MasterCard SecureCode” issuing service. Kazkommertsbank has its own processing center. It operates 172 ATMs and over 685 POS-terminals in the principal cities of Kazakhstan. OpenWay is one of the first vendors launching MasterCard “EMV Full Grade” and VISA “EMV Full Option.” The iBIZ “CommerSafe Product Suite,” is suitable for both “Verified by VISA” and “MasterCard SecureCode.”

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CU Balances Up, But Co-Branding Posts Strongest Growth

Credit Unions are reporting higher average balances and volume than most other credit card segments. However, the growth in card balances of credit union portfolios is only up 2%. At mid-year, the co-branded/affinity card segment posted the strongest growth at 7%, while the low-rate market segment was up 6%. According to the November issue of RAM Research Group’s Bankcard Barometer, average balances, per active account, among credit union portfolios are $2,754 compared to an average balance of $2,583 for the top ten U.S. issuers. Based on 2Q/03 data, credit unions reported an average second quarter volume of $2,949 per active account versus $2,616 for the co-branded/affinity sector. According to Brookwood Capital, approximately $268 million in credit union credit card portfolios have changed hands so far this year. Through the third quarter, 43 credit unions with portfolio of over $1 million in outstanding balances have sold their credit card portfolios, with six of them being greater than $10 million in outstanding balances. (CF Library 12/3/03)

SECTOR MONITOR (2Q/03 vs 2Q/02)
BAL VOL
Co-branded/Affinity: $2616 $2744
Sub-Prime/Secured $1914 $ 870
Low Rate >$2 Billion $2627 $2692
Low Rate <$2 Billion $1770 $2628 Non-Bank $2291 $1558 Credit Unions $2754 $2949 Top Ten $2583 $3444 BAL- average balance per active account; VOL - average year-to-date volume per active account Source: Bankcard Barometer (www.ramresearch.com).

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Standard Chartered Bank to Use Wealthview Banking in South Africa

Vancouver-based Fincentric Corporation reports that Standard Chartered Bank has purchased software licenses for its “Wealthview Banking” system. The deal came via Standard Chartered’s reentry into South Africa in August with the purchase of 20twenty, a digital financial services organization. It is expected that 20twenty will re-launch during the first quarter.
20twenty, based in Cape Town, South Africa, has utilized Fincentric’s platform since its inception, when it was launched in July 2001 as the first digital-only bank in the region. “Wealthview Banking” supported 20twenty’s customer base as it grew to over 40,000 within its first six months of operations. Standard Chartered Bank operates in excess of 500 locations across the Asia Pacific Region, South Asia, the Middle East, Africa, the United Kingdom and the Americas.

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Hispanic Payroll Debit Card Introduced

NJ-based CR Wolters Financial Access Systems has signed a deal with First Card Resources to offer a payroll debit card program to Hispanic businesses. Instead of depositing their weekly or biweekly paychecks in a local bank, they must rely on check-cashing services to gain access to their incomes. These services, however, are costly exacting fees as high as 5% for each check. CR Wolters ([www.crwolters.com][1], 973-383-7811) was founded as a kiosk/ATM consulting firm and designs secure, best-of-breed debit-card programs that streamline payroll operations and link large-scale electronic-transfer technologies with retail sales organizations.

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

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INSIDE Contactless Ranks as One of the Fastest Growing Start-Ups in France

Aix-en-Provence-based INSIDE Contactless has been ranked 19th in Deloitte and Touche’s “Top 50” fastest growing technology companies. The provider of contactless cards and couplers was also ranked as 4th in the Southern region of France with a cumulated growth for the past five years of 1488%. The company is a leading supplier of contactless chips and readers, offering a range of solutions for emerging markets like transport, access control, payment, identity, and electronic identification. The Company works with a worldwide customer base including system integrators, VARs and application developers.

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Peppercoin Payment System Launched

MA-based Peppercoin has officially launched its new micropayments system. Peppercoin’s micropayment system is the first that allows online merchants to offer new content profitably and to build market adoption quickly through a consumer-friendly, pay-as-you-go approach that eliminates prepayments. Peppercoin integrates easily with transaction systems and complements existing business models to accelerate merchant revenues and increase profits while reducing transaction costs dramatically. Peppercoin is a micropayments company that enables profitable new business models for low-priced digital content and physical goods. Only Peppercoin helps merchants build market adoption quickly through a consumer-friendly, pay-as-you-go approach that eliminates prepayments.

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