Elan Financial Services Launches eQuest

U.S. Bancorp’s Elan Financial Services has launched a new data warehouse application that provides powerful access to ATM and debit card program data. The new “eQuest” application is designed to keep financial institutions informed about their ATM and debit programs by tracking transaction history and providing easy to use comprehensive reporting to help identify emerging trends. With “eQuest,” the information is accessed through a series of structured, easy to use reports that can be downloaded and managed to provide the data needed by the user. For instance, a financial institution will be able to track certain trends within their ATM program to ensure that the needs of their cardholders are being met and to make decisions regarding ATM locations. “eQuest” is accessed through a secure Internet connection. Clients of Elan will be able to see immediate benefits of using eQuest including 180 days of transaction detail data and up to 24 months of summary level data.

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United Introduces Free Companion Ticket Annual Program

United Airlines has launched a new program to offer members of its “Mileage Plus” frequent flyer program free companion tickets as well as other special discounts. Under the new “Ameniti” program, members who book domestic travel in first, business or economy class on a United full-fare ticket will receive a free companion ticket in the same class of service. For international travel, the offer applies only to full-fare first or business class tickets. The annual fee for “Charter Members” is $295. The new benefit competes vigorously with the free companion air travel benefit offered via “American Express Platinum” cards. Other benefits of the “Ameniti” program include special rates on rentals from the Hertz “Prestige Collection” plus double miles; room upgrades at select hotels; specially negotiated limousine services; and discounts on luxury shopping and gifts with purchase. Bank One issues “United Mileage Plus VISA” co-branded credit cards.

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Consumer Credit Resumes Brisk Pace in September

The pace of growth in credit card debt picked up in September as Americans added $3 billion in revolving credit compared to $1 billion one-year ago. Since the start of this year, consumers have added more than $19 billion in revolving credit, ending September at $731.5 billion. According to figures released Friday by the Federal Reserve, the annual growth rate for revolving credit is now 5.0%, the highest pace since May. One-year ago the growth rate was 3.0%. Bank credit card debt (excluding store and gas credit cards) at the end of the second quarter was $646.2 billion, or roughly 90% of total revolving credit, according to CardData (www.carddata.com). (Third quarter industry figures will be available in the next week or two.) At the end of September, Americans were $1972.2 billion in debt, excluding home mortgages.

REVOLVING CREDIT HISTORICAL ($billions)
Sept03 Aug03 Jul 03 Jun03 May03 Apr03 Mar03
GRWTH: 5.0% 2.9 1.4 -2.4 7.7 3.4 4.1
$OWED: $731.5 728.5 726.8 725.9 727.9 722.8 720.7

Feb03 Jan03 Dec02 Nov02 Oct02 Sep02 Aug02
GRWTH: 5.9% 5.2 -6.7 -1.4 1.6 3.0 6.2
$OWED: $718.6 715.5 712.4 716.8 717.9 721.3 719.5
Source: Federal Reserve; revised figures as of 11/07/03;
For complete historical data visit CardData (www.carddata.com).

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Car Payments Inhibit Major Consumer Purchases

A new survey from Cambridge Consumer Credit Index shows that 55% of all Americans making monthly payments on car leases or loans say these loans are burdensome enough to prevent them making major purchases. Of all Americans surveyed, 46% have outstanding car loans or leases and 54% make no car payments. Of those making car payments, 32% spend less than $300 a month, 50% pay between $300 and $500, 10% pay between $500 and $700 and 7% pay more than $700 a month. The Cambridge Consumer Credit Index is a forward looking economic indicator gauging consumer spending and debt. ![][1]

[1]: /images/c/cambridgeconsumerindex/nov03.jpg

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CheckPoint Launches Turn-Key RFID Retail Solution

NJ-based Checkpoint Systems is now offering an end-to-end RFID solution that enables automated identification, tracking and securing of merchandise at key checkpoints in the supply chain, including loading dock doors, store shelves and point of sale. The demonstration took place at the RFIM conference held recently in Las Vegas. The event also included presentations on shrink management, educational sessions and panel discussions on RFID/EPC, addresses by industry analysts, and source tagging workshops for hard goods and soft goods retailers. Checkpoint Systems, Inc., is a multinational manufacturer and marketer of technology-driven solutions for retail security, labeling, and merchandising. Checkpoint is the leading provider of RF based shrink management solutions to the $1 trillion global retail industry, including over half of the world’s top 200 largest global retailers.

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Gemplus Wins HBOS EMV Debit Card Contract

Gemplus has won a contract to provide Halifax Bank of Scotland with 15 million smart cards to replace the magnetic stripe system on the bank’s debit cards. HBOS current issues approximately five million debit cards per annum. The contract call for Gemplus to supply up to 15 million smart cards over the next three years. Although all banks are required to go through the EMV migration, HBOS will be among the first UK banks to do so. As part of HBOS’ migration to EMV the bank will also be introducing PIN based customer verification. This is in conjunction with the UK PIN at POS, or “Chip & PIN,” initiative. HBOS currently has more than 25 million customers.

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MasterCard 3Q/03 US Volume Up 5%, Adds 3MM Accounts

MasterCard International reported this week that its U.S. gross dollar volume for the third quarter increased 4.9% over last year to $163.5 billion. Credit card volume was up 5.6% to $133.1 billion and debit card volume increased 2.4% to $30.4 billion. Purchase volume for U.S. credit and debit cards combined in the third quarter increased 8.6% to $124.7 billion, compared to one-year ago. During the third quarter MasterCard added one million credit card accounts and nearly two million debit card accounts. At the end of the third quarter MasterCard had 212.8 million credit card accounts representing 270.6 million cards. Debit card accounts stood at 45.5 million representing 51.5 million cards. During the quarter MasterCard processed 1.2 billion credit card transactions and 500 million debit card transactions in the USA. For complete details on MasterCard’s 3Q/03 results visit CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]).

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

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Discover Moves Beyond Cash-Back with Two New Cards

Discover has rolled-out two reward cards and promises to unleash more into the marketplace next year. The new “Gasoline Card” earns cardholders up to a 5% “Cashback Bonus” award on their gas purchases and up to 1% on their other purchases. Cardholders have the opportunity to increase their entire award, up to 10%, by exchanging their award for certificates from 25 “Cashback Bonus Partners.” The “Gasoline Card” is the first card to be launched in the new series of “Discover Platinum Cashback Bonus Plus Cards,” offering rewards up to 10%. The new “Miles Card” awards cardholders one mile for every dollar they spend. This new product allows cardholders to redeem their miles for travel on any major domestic airline with no restrictive blackout dates. In addition to redeeming miles for travel, redemption begins with as little as 2,500 miles for other reward options including hotel stays, car rentals, vacation packages, brand-name merchandise, and gift certificates as well as cash rewards.

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InteliData Revenues/Profits Decline, Lowers Projections

VA-based InteliData Technologies reported that revenues for the third quarter totaled $4.7 million, a decrease of $1.3 million from the year-ago quarter. Gross profit for the three-month period ended September 30th, totaled $2.8 million versus $3.6 million for the third quarter of 2002. Net loss for 3Q/03 was $567,000, versus a net loss of $1.6 million for the comparable year-ago period. InteliData says that continuing credit card industry portfolio difficulties have impacted its ability to secure new business. The Company also noted that its bill payment ASP agreement with Fidelity National Information Services has fallen short of expectations. In light of the 3Q/03 performance, the Company is now setting full-year 2003 revenue expectations to the low end of its prior range, that being $22 million. The Company’s preliminary full-year 2004 revenue guidance is expected to be between $22 – $30 million. For complete details on InteliData’s 3Q/03 results visit CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]).

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

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New Company Tackles Portfolio Conversion Backlog

Vitesse Worldwide, a new Colorado-based company, says it is developing software called “AutoConvert,” that will minimize the headaches experienced by the processor when a merchant portfolio is sold and manual reprogramming of merchant terminals are needed. Bank/Mortgage/Loan/Insurance Company CEO’s wanted to realize the cost savings of changing sooner. Investment Bankers that broker portfolio acquision/sale are seeing their clients change direction due to the time lines. VITESSE WORLDWIDE has built a suite of services that allow all within the value chain to see profit gain faster.

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ACCEL/Exchange Network Gets Governance Overhaul

Fiserv yesterday announced a new governance structure for its “ACCEL/Exchange” EFT network. Under plans developed by Fiserv EFT/CNS for the network, a 16-member “Network Advisory Council” will set the strategic and tactical goals for “ACCEL/Exchange.” The council will include 15 financial institution members and a single Fiserv executive. The company says this distributed governance approach combines the network ownership, scale and efficiency of Fiserv with the industry insight and knowledge of executives from a cross-section of financial institutions. Fiserv say many EFT networks were built by financial institutions that have largely sold off their network assets to third-party owners that are focused on maximizing profits frequently at the expense of investing in their network. Although a small number of networks remain institution-owned, they operate regionally and development resources and priorities can be contentious and inefficiently deployed. “ACCEL/Exchange” is currently accessible at more than 1.6 million POS devices and 53,000 ATMs.

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VISA Launches Know Your Check Card Month

VISA USA has designated November as “Know Your Check Card Month.” The program is designed to raise awareness of the benefits and protections offered by VISA’s off-line debit card product. Debit cards currently make up a third of VISA’s gross dollar volume in the USA. To support the effort, VISA has launched a special Web site wherein consumers can take a quiz to test their debit card knowledge. The web site also offers consumer tips. Additionally, the Web site informs consumers about VISA’s cardholder authentication service and the “Cardholder Information Security Program.” VISA has also partnered with the Call for Action consumer network to provide consumers with ID theft assistance via the Web site.

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