BillMatrix Names Chief Technology Officer

Dallas-based BillMatrix has named Robert Stephens, formerly SVP and Director of Information Technologies at Kintetsu Global Information Technologies, as CTO. As Senior Vice President and Director of Information Technologies at Kintetsu Global Information Technologies, Stephens was responsible for the planning, design and deployment of information solutions across a global network of clients and employees at one of the world’s leading freight forwarding companies. Stephens held long-term executive leadership positions at Fritz Companies and Intertrans Corporation, leaders in the global freight industry. He was educated in computer science at the University of Texas at Arlington, Texas and Skyline CDC in Dallas, Texas. BillMatrix Corporation provides outsourced payment services for the nation’s largest companies using the latest automated consumer interface technologies.

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Juniper Bank’s Pinch Yourself Campaign Nabs an Award

Juniper Bank, and its advertising agency, Rapp Collins, have been awarded an “International Silver ECHO Award” for the “Pinch Yourself” direct mail credit card solicitation program. The honor recognizes the creativity and effectiveness of the companies’ direct marketing campaign targeting prospective credit card users. The Direct Marketing Association International ECHO Awards are a much-sought-after industry honor. Judged in three rounds by direct marketing experts, the international award is the most comprehensive of its kind, rewarding outstanding campaign strategy, creativity and quantifiable results. Juniper aims to make consumers’ lives simpler and easier by giving them greater flexibility and control over their finances. Rapp Collins Worldwide is a world leader in direct marketing services and customer management with more than 2,900 professionals in 70 offices across 33 countries and capitalized billings of $2.4 billion.

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Chase to Acquire Citicorp Electronic Financial Services

J.P. Morgan Chase last week announced an agreement to acquire Citicorp Electronic Financial Services for $380 million in cash. CEFS is a provider of government issued benefits payments and prepaid stored value cards used by state and federal government agencies, as well as stored value services for private institutions. Chase says the acquisition will bolster its position as a leading provider of wholesale payment services. Citigroup says it will remain focused on businesses in which it has a leading market position. Chase expects the deal to close this quarter.

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QSR STV Cards Produce 15% Lift in Average Transactions

OR-based Chockstone reports that its stored value card platform for the QSR industry has produced a 14.5% lift in the average size of consumer transactions, and that QSR locations are experiencing a three- to four-times increase in gift card sales vs. paper gift certificate sales. Chockstone’s integrated platform, ChockPoint, enables retailers to combine payment, loyalty and promotional programs through a single consumer card. Chockstone retailers are experiencing a significant lift in consumer dollars as the transition is made from paper gift certificates to electronic gift-loyalty-marketing cards.

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CASH-BACK

Ryanair has added a cash-back feature to its co-branded VISA card. The “Ryanair.com VISA,” launched in February with MBNA Europe, will now offer up to 10% cash-back on purchases made with the card at participating retailers accessible through the Ryanair online shop. Merchants include: WHSmith, Allsports, Past Times, Thorntons, Toyworld, The Pier and The Perfume Shop.
The “Ryanair.com VISA” is available as a standard or gold credit card. Both cards enable users to earn a bonus flight with the purchase of 10 flights. The standard card carries an APR of 16.9% while the gold card carries an annual interest rate of 14.9%. The Ryanair credits program has been developed and is being run on behalf of Ryanair by the Irish-based marketing company Brandforce.

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Debit Card Exit Fee Dispute Enters the Courtroom

VISA and MasterCard squared-off yesterday before federal Judge Barbara S. Jones over VISA’s newly adopted “Settlement Service Fee” bylaw, which penalizes large debit card issuers for leaving VISA. In September, MasterCard decided to take VISA to federal court after VISA declined to act on its “cease and desist” letter. MasterCard says VISA is changing the rules mid-stream and bullying its members so it becomes virtually impossible for them to switch brands. VISA’s new bylaw imposes huge fines on the top VISA issuers if they switch to MasterCard and/or reduce their VISA debit volume. The “Settlement Service Fee” bylaw requires VISA top off-line debit card members, who switch to a competing off-line debit card, to pay a $20 million fine for each percentage point of lost VISA off-line debit volume. Following the recent settlement of the Wal-Mart litigation, VISA told its top 100 debit issuers that for the next 10 years, they would face significant fines, based on a share of VISA’s $2 billion settlement with the merchants, if they reduced their VISA debit volume from September 30, 2002 levels. Earlier this month VISA announced it will waive its the new bylaw for members switching to American Express or Discover. VISA says that MasterCard’s court motion to stop the exit fee bylaw has absolutely no merit and is purely an opportunistic move by MasterCard to recover from its missteps in the off-line debit card market over the past decade. VISA said MasterCard failed to see the coming explosion in off-line debit.

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ACI Looks to Tap the Greek and Cypriot Banking Markets

ACI Worldwide has formed a new subsidiary in Athens to tap the potential in the Greek and Cypriot banking markets. The Company is already in discussions with the majority of the top tier banks in Greece including National Bank of Greece, EFG Eurobank Ergasias and Commercial Bank of Greece (CBG – Emporiki). The ACI subsidiary in Athens will provide maintenance support for local customers and undertake specific product development for the region. The subsidiary is supported by a 24-hour response team based at ACI’s EMEA headquarters near London, dedicated to providing support to customers across Europe. The new ACI subsidiary in Greece is the ninth regional operation set up by ACI Worldwide in EMEA. Other sites include Germany, Spain, Italy, Middle East (Bahrain), Moscow, South Africa, The Netherlands and the UK.

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AmEx Launches Major Campaign to Reopen the Statue of Liberty

American Express is spearheading a drive to reopen the Statue of Liberty and is launching a multi-media communications campaign on December 1 to support the effort. AmEx is donating one cent to The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation for every purchase made on its cards between December 1st and the end of January. AmEx says it is also making a direct contribution of $500,000 to the Foundation. Totally, AmEx is guaranteeing it will raise a minimum of $3 million to the effort to make critical safety improvements so that the monument can again be accessible to the public. The Statue has been closed to the public since September 11, 2001. Cardholders can donate their “American Express Membership Rewards” points to The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation. Each point has a value of one cent. Cardholders may also make a direct contribution and charge it to their AmEx card. Beyond the contributions, AmEx has commissioned film director Martin Scorsese to produce and narrate a documentary on the Statue of Liberty that is scheduled to air on the History Channel in mid-January. The fundraising effort will be supported by national print, television and Internet advertising, as well as non-traditional visibility concentrated in the New York metropolitan area. Messages about the need to reopen the Statue’s doors will be seen by rail commuters on subways and the Path train, as well as on New York area ferries, Metro Card sleeves and in office elevators.

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GOLDEN CARD & SHENZHOU-5

Several “ICBC MasterCard Peony International Golden Cards” were recently carried into space onboard the “Shenzhou-5” manned spacecraft in conjunction with the tenth anniversary of the card.
The event will kick-off a six-month promotion of the “Golden Card” to encourage more consumers to sign up for a genuine credit card. Debit cards outnumber credit cards in the country by more than 20-to-1. The latest statistics show 544 million debit cards and 25 million credit cards. Of the 25 million credit cards, 24 million are secured credit cards and 1 million are unsecured international credit cards. Almost 16.4 million secured credit cards carry the MasterCard logo. The “Golden Card Project,” launched in 1993, was advocated by former President Jiang Zemin as a way to accelerate the construction and reform of China’s finance and trade by encouraging more people to use credit cards. MasterCard says the five credit cards that were taken into space will be displayed in museums in Beijing and Shanghai.

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Global Payments Secures New Credit Line

Global Payments has completed a three-year, $350 million revolving credit facility agreement with a syndicate of U.S. banks, that can be expanded to $500 million. Upon completion, this agreement will replace Global’s existing U.S. lines of credit, which previously totaled $150 million. Global plans to use the credit facility to fund future strategic acquisitions in the payment processing industry, to refinance the $125 million in notes issued in connection with the company’s recent DolEx acquisition, and to provide a source of working capital for general corporate purposes.

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Rahaxi Processing Oy to Deploy NonStop Servers and BASE24 Software

HP and ACI Worldwide have signed a contract with Helsinki-based Rahaxi Processing Oy for upgrading their IT platform. The contract, valued at $1 million, includes HP “NonStop” servers and ACI’s “BASE24” software. Rahaxi currently operates full, on-line connectivity to all Finnish banks and Luottokunta. Rahaxi provides services to more than 1,100 businesses, and the network supports more than 5,000 point-of-sale devices. The new system will enable Rahaxi to meet the latest VISA and MasterCard standards and to pave the way for EMV compliance.

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Delinquency and Charge-Offs Finally Change Directions

Bank credit card delinquency dipped for the third consecutive month and is now sitting at its lowest level in nearly two years. The good news is accompanied by the fact that charge-offs also declined for three straight months and have hit a twelve-month low. Based on securitized and reported card loans, delinquency (30+days) for October declined to 5.43%, compared to 5.47% in September, and 5.49% in August. This is the lowest rate since January 2002, when delinquency came in at 5.41%, according to CardData ([carddata.com][1]). Charge-offs for October dipped to 7.36%, compared to 7.40% in September, and 7.44% in August. This is the lowest charge-off rate since September 2002, when charge-offs hit 7.33%, according to CardData ([carddata.com][2]). For the October period, 60+ day delinquency was 3.08%, 90+ day delinquency was 1.77%, and 120+ day delinquency was 96 basis points. Meanwhile, recovery averages of charged-off card loans has been fairly consistent at 45 basis points, according to CardData ([carddata.com][3]).

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

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