All Inter-Bank Switch Volume on MasterCard’s Platform

MasterCard Europe reported this week that all inter-bank “Switch” volume is now being processed by MasterCard’s global processing platform. Last year, the owners of “Switch” decided to change the brand to “Maestro” and to migrate the processing to MasterCard. MasterCard Europe currently serves 42 countries with core transaction processing services (connectivity, authorization, clearing and settlement), enriched with a large range of value-added and supporting services. It also handles domestic transactions in over 20 different countries across Europe. The migration of “Switch” processing to MasterCard will mean at least 250 million new transactions for the remainder of this year.

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Safeway Offers Multiple Gift Cards as Comerica Jumps In

Safeway.com and Vons.com are now offering gift cards from 21 major retailers. Meanwhile, Detroit-based Comerica Bank has launched a “VISA Gift Card.” Safeway.com and Vons.com are charging a $2.50 service charge for each gift card shipping address. Participating retailers include: AMC Theatres; Bed, Bath & Beyond; Blockbuster; Borders; Checker; Schuck’s; Kragen; Chili’s Grill & Bar; Circuit City; CompUSA; Foot Locker; KB Toys; Marriott; Nordstrom; Old Navy; Olive Garden; Red Lobster; Sears; Shell Oil; Starbucks; Stuart Anderson’s Black Angus Restaurants; The Children’s Place; and, the Wherehouse. Customers can also purchase Safeway gift cards for $20, $50 or $100, redeemable inside Safeway, Vons, Pavilions, Randalls, Tom Thumb, Dominick’s, Genuardi’s and Carrs stores. The “Comerica VISA Gift Card” carries a $5.95 fee and is available in denominations of $25, $50, $100, $250, $500 and $1,000.

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MAYBANK & AMEX

Maybank and American Express this week launched the “Maybank American Express Credit Card.” Maybank says it expects to issue about 60,000 of the new cards within the first twelve months. The new card is offering a waiver of annual fees for the first year; a special introductory interest rate; an attractive tiered balance transfer plan offering 0% interest for three months with minimum amount of RM1,000; and 0.5% interest for 6 months with minimum amount of RM3,000. New cardholders who use their cards through March 31st at restaurants and hotels will receive double bonus points under Maybank’s “GiftPoints Rewards Program.” Maybank is also holding a contest through March 31st, offering a weekly Grand Prize for fifteen winners including: a choice of adventure and lifestyle holidays to exotic travel destinations such as Egypt, New Zealand, Seychelles or South Africa; the exciting experience of watching F1 live in Monaco; or relaxing in Ibiza, Spain. Also included in the offers are high-tech electronics equipment, plasma screen televisions and jewelry items. Maybank currently has four million cards in circulation of which 800,000 were credit cards while the remaining 3.2 million were debit cards.

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CheckFree and BofA Tweak Contract

CheckFree and Bank of America have fine tuned their contract in the face of the rapid growth of BofA’s in online users. The terms of the agreement are intended to expand the relationship for the duration of the original ten-year contract, which runs through 2010. Among other items, there are adjustments to long-term service pricing. CheckFree says the new transaction-based pricing allows CheckFree and the bank to take advantage of economies of scale. However, CheckFree noted that, despite the contract changes, BoA’s minimum annual revenue commitments remain in place at $50 million per year. In the third quarter, more than 11 million consumers initiated online payments through services offered by CheckFree’s e-commerce division. EBPP is available through more than a thousand financial services organizations. About 300 billers participate. CheckFree delivers nearly 15 million e-bills each quarter.

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2004 Global Premium MasterCard Collection Released

MasterCard International is now distributing to members the new and expanded “2004 Global Premium MasterCard Collection,” a portfolio of high-value offers from travel providers valid for all of next year. The Global Premium MasterCard Collection, which is currently being offered to customer financial institutions at no additional expense, features unique travel offers with global appeal for today s discerning traveler, including: The Leading Hotels of the World, Relais & Châteaux and Radisson Seven Seas Cruises. The Collection can be used by customer financial institutions to compliment regional premium offerings targeting local spending habits and can be tailored to appeal to any premium cardholder segment, including Gold MasterCard, Platinum MasterCard, World MasterCard and World Signia MasterCard cardholders. asterCard International is a leading global payments solutions company that provides a broad variety of innovative services in support of our global members credit, deposit access, electronic cash, business-to-business and related payment programs.

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U.S. Bank Extends Debit Card Rewards to Business Cards

MN-based U.S. Bank has extended its new “Checking That Pays” program to include business debit cards. The new “Cash Bonus VISA Business Check Card” and “Business Check Card with VISA Extras” will join U.S. Bank’s four consumer debit cards that reward users for off-line signature purchases. The “Cash Bonus VISA Business Check Card” offers users a 25 basis points cash rebate for each non-PIN POS transaction. The cash bonus rebate is paid annually in November and customers can track their rebate online. The “Business Check Card with VISA Extras” offers one reward point for each dollar on qualifying transactions up to $4,000 and two points for every dollar spent for all non-PIN purchases over $4,000. The points can be redeemed for gift certificates and merchandise at more than 50 retailers and restaurants nationwide. US Bank launched its “Checking That Pays” program in September. At that time, the bank launched four debit card reward programs for consumers. U.S. Bank offers the “Cash Bonus VISA Check Card,” “VISA Extras for Check Card,” “WorldPerks VISA Check Card,” and the “Harley-Davidson VISA Check Card.” The “WorldPerks VISA Check Card” offers one Northwest Airlines mile for every $2 in signature-based purchases, with a nominal value of one cent each. The “Harley-Davidson VISA Check Card” offers one entry into the monthly drawing and one entry into the bonus drawing at the end of the year for each qualifying off-line purchase. The sweepstakes gives away one new Harley-Davidson motorcycle every month. (CF Library 9/3/03)

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Real-Time Electronic PIN Delivery System Patent Awarded

Miami-based Blackstone has been awarded a patent for a real-time electronic PIN delivery system that covers prepaid products, top-up, loyalty, gift card and POSA . The truly innovative multi-function transaction processing system successfully integrates payment processing and prepaid products and services. Using a POS terminal or touch-screen, menu-driven system, merchants can print or activate prepaid cards (calling cards, gift cards, Internet service, wireless recharge cards, etc.) Electronic PINs are delivered via an integrated thermal card printer, accept checks, smart cards and ATM/debit/EBT (electronic benefit transfers) cards, process Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover Card & Diner’s Club transactions and view real-time reports. lackstone is currently one of the country’s largest providers of prepaid products and services through over 300,000 retail locations nationwide.

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TNB Card Services Adds 9,000 Cards to its Portfolio

Dallas-based TNB Card Services reports it has added 9,000 new credit card accounts from five credit unions including GENCO FCU, MariSol FCU, Bashas’ Associates FCU, Kern Central CU, and Group Services Employees FCU. Bashas’ Associates Federal Credit Union is located in Tempe, Arizona. This $18 million credit union serves 7,200 members and family members of the Bashas’ family of companies. Bakersfield, California is the home of Kern Central Credit Union. The $28 million credit union serves 10,500 members. GENCO Federal Credit Union converted 2,300 credit card accounts to TNB. This $116 million credit union will also begin issuing platinum card to its 25,500 members. MariSol Federal Credit Union originally opened in 1954 to serve the employees of Maricopa County. TNB Card Services, located in Dallas, provides full-service credit and debit card processing, as well as, an agent issuing solution.

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MBNA Pushes Late & Over-Limit Fees to Sub-Prime Level

Late-payment fees and over-limit fees are being taken to a new level this month as MBNA raises its late fee and over-limit fee to $39 for accounts with balances over $1,000. Over the past twelve months, average late-payment fees have risen 4% to $31.24, while average over-limit fee have increased 5% to $29.05. Among the nation’s top VISA and MasterCard issuers, only sub-prime specialist Metris/Direct Merchants, assess late fees and over-limit fees at such a high level. Most of the top issuers charge a $35 late-payment and over-limit fee. However, Capital One and Household have kept both fees at $29 ea ch. According to CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]), late-payment fees currently average $31.24, a 45% increase over 1998, and a 176% boost over 1993 levels. Over-limit fees currently average $29.05, a 42% gain over 1998, and a 141% increase over 1993 levels. CardTrak ([www.cardtrak.com][2]), which first published the MBNA story on December 1st, says over the past three years MBNA has emerged as a market leader in boosting cardholder fees, after being a fee laggard for most of the 90s. Under MBNA’s new policy, late-payment fees are based on the balance on the business day after the payment due date. Late fees are $15 if the balance is $100 or less; $29 if between $100.01 and $1000; $39 if over $1000. Over-the-credit-limit fees are also based on the balance as of each statement closing date. Over-limit fees are $15 if the balance is $500 or less; $29 if between $500.01 and $1000; $39 if over $1000.

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

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Tidel Technologies Raises Cash, But Losses Mount

Houston-based ATM manufacturer Tidel Technologies has closed a $7 million financing deal with NY-based Laurus Funds and reports that continues to sustain substantial losses since the second quarter. The notes may be converted, at Laurus Funds’ option, into Tidel common stock at a conversion price of $0.40 per share. Tidel also issued seven-year warrants to Laurus Funds to purchase 4.25 million shares of Tidel common stock at an exercise price of $0.40 per share. Tidel Technologies, Inc. is a manufacturer of automated teller machines and cash security equipment designed for specialty retail marketers.

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