HobbyTown USA Launches E-Cash Card

The world’s largest hobby franchise has partnered with three industry players to launch an electronic cash card program. NE-based HobbyTown USA has teamed with TN-based Comdata/Ceridian’s Stored Value Systems, Salt Lake City-based Gift Card Solutions, and the Chicago-based Discover/NOVUS Network. The card is available in multiple denominations via the Company’s Web site or at any store location. The card will be processed on the existing Discover/NOVUS Network. HobbyTown USA has 160 franchised locations.

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NCR Adds Ringler to the Board

OH-based NCR has elected Jim Ringler, vice chairman of Illinois Tool Works, to its board of directors. Prior to joining Illinois Tool Works, a $10 billion diversified manufacturer of highly engineered components and industrial systems, Ringler was chairman, president and chief executive officer of Premark International, Inc. Premark merged with Illinois Tool Works in November, 1999. NCR Corporation is a leading global technology company helping businesses build stronger relationships with their customers. NCR’s ATMs, retail systems, Teradata(R) data warehouses and IT services provide Relationship Technology(TM) solutions that maximize the value of customer interactions.

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NetBank Acquires FTI for $17 Million

Atlanta-based NetBank has signed a deal to acquire Financial Technologies for $16 million in cash and $1 million worth of restricted stock. Privately-held FTI has been profitable in each year of its seven-year operating history. It has deployed more than 4,300 off-premise ATMs across the country. On average, FTI machines process approximately 1.5 million or $60 million worth of transactions per month. Pending regulatory approval, FTI will operate as a subsidiary of NetBank. The deal is expected to close by year end.

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Tranax Launches New TDES ATM

Tranax Technologies has launched its “MBS5000″ series of ATMs. The weatherized and TDES compliant machine has an encrypting PIN Pad, UL291 Level One ATM certification, and approximate weight of 1,000 lbs. The 27″ body fits on a 36” island and retrofits into a “Slimline” kiosk with minimal modification. Connectivity is established through a modem or Ethernet card, and NDC+ as well as other emulation packages can be delivered via TCP/IP. The primary markets for this new series are community banks and credit unions operating ATMs that are not TDES compliant and need to be replaced.

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Surcharging Not Popular with Merchants

Since new credit card rules have gone into effect that permit merchants to surcharge customers for using credit cards, only one major corporation has begun surcharging. However, the Reserve Bank of Australia says a growing number of merchants are now surcharging, but the vast majority of Australian merchants do not. Qantas became the first major merchant to implement the surcharge. The airline began assessing a 1% surcharge for tickets booked with a VISA or MasterCard payment card, in July.

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AmEx Introduces Rewards Maximizer in Australia

American Express has launched a credit card in Australia offering a minimum of 1.5 “Membership Rewards” points for every dollar spent. AmEx’s new “Rewards Maximizer” has an interest rate of 16.99% and a monthly card membership fee of $12. There is no limit to the points a cardholder can earn and there is no expiration date on points. According to CardFlash International, the new card is presumably positioned to compete with the new ANZ-Diners Club alliance. Under the ANZ program customers are encouraged to use a Qantas ANZ VISA for small purchases and a Diners Club card for larger purchases. Diners Club offers double points on all purchases.

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Payment Data Systems and Network 1 Financial Partner

San Antonio-based Payment Data Systems has signed a multi-year agreement with Network 1 Financial to provide credit card authorization and settlement services and sponsorship into VISA’s “ISO” and MasterCard’s “MSP” programs. 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, POS, or payments taken by Customer Service Representatives or an IVR. Verus Financial Management is a leading consolidator of successful payment processors into a “best practices” payment services company.

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Marks & Spencer Aims to Become Big U.K. Player

The largest credit card launch ever in Europe got underway today. Marks & Spencer Financial Services and MasterCard rolled-out the “&more MasterCard” which aims to become the 7th largest credit card issuer in the UK by year end. More than 2.6 million existing Marks & Spencer charge card users have been upgraded to the “&more” credit card, with new customers able to apply as of this morning. Alongside the credit card launch, Marks & Spencer Financial Services, the MasterCard member and issuer of the card, is being re-branded as ‘Marks & Spencer Money’. Prior to the national roll-out, Marks & Spencer completed a pilot phase in nine stores in South Wales with 40,000 charge card holders migrating to the new credit card. The new “&more” card offers 1 loyalty point per 1 GBP spent with Marks & Spencer and 1 loyalty point per 2 GBP spent elsewhere. The “&more” points can be converted into vouchers to spend exclusively at Marks & Spencer UK stores. The new card offers an APR of 14.9% and no annual fee. (CF Library 9/3/03)

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Intuit Closes on IMS Acquisition

Intuit has closed on the acquisition of Innovative Merchant Solutions, a provider of credit card and debit card processing services for small businesses. IMS enables Intuit to strengthen IMS offering for a critical ‘beyond-accounting’ service — merchant account services. Intuit Inc. is the leading provider of financial software and Web-based services for consumers, small businesses and accounting professionals. Intuit has annual revenue of more than $1.3 billion and reaches 25 million customers with nearly 6,000 employees in 13 states and four countries.

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TransFirst to Offer CardinalCommerce’s Centinel

Dallas-based TransFirst has inked a deal to offer CardinalCommerce’s “Centinel” payment authentication software to its online merchant customers. TransFirst is a premiere provider of transaction processing services and payment technologies. CardinalCommerce Corporation is a leading provider of a technology-neutral authentication platform for securing electronic and wireless commerce, thus ensuring that individuals, businesses and government agencies can process electronic transactions and access confidential information safely, securely and privately.

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TSYS and Ontario Systems Team

TSYS and IN-based Ontario Systems have partnered to provide card issuers a comprehensive recovery and collection system. TSYS Debt Management, along with TSYS, will administer the TSYS Recovery System, which is fully compatible with TSYS transaction processing systems as well as other credit grantor processing systems. Powered by Ontario Systems’ technology, the TSYS Recovery System will offer pre-charge off collections and post-charge off recovery functions. The companies said that properly managing both active and charged-off accounts, identifying trends before they become problems and ensuring that accounts are worked according to business rules will enable credit grantors to recognize reduced delinquencies and increased recoveries.

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InfoNow Hires Top Marketing Guru

Denver-based InfoNow Corporation has hired Mark Geene, formerly of Oracle and IBM, as EVP of Sales, Marketing, and Business Development. Geene brings more than 20 years of sales and business development experience to InfoNow. InfoNow provides an Enterprise Channel Management solution to help companies efficiently collaborate with multiple channel partners, such as distributors, resellers, and dealers, to increase sales to end-customers.

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