Baby Phat Launches Prepaid VISA Card

Baby Phat Fashions and UniRush Financial Services have teamed to launch an affinity prepaid card, offering rebates of up to 10% off merchandise. The new “Baby Phat Prepaid Rush VISA” card follows the launch earlier this year of the prepaid “Rush Card.” In addition to the rebates, all new card holders receive a Baby Phat “Welcome Pack,” which includes a pink Baby Phat tee, signed photo and welcome letter from Kimora Lee Simmons, stick on jewelry of “Baby Phat Cat,” and exclusive release details of Kimora Lee’s new music CD. Kimora’s husband is Russell Simmons, head of UniRush Financial Services.

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NYCE Enters Canada via Everlink Payment Services

NYCE and Celero Solutions have formed a company to provide Canadian financial institutions with ATM and POS transaction switching, ATM terminal driving and connections to other networks. NYCE will own 51% of Everlink Payment Services and Celero will own 49%. Celero currently provides products and services to 244 credit unions in western Canada. Data center operations will be located in Calgary, Alberta. Credit Union Central of Canada, the national trade association and central finance facility for credit unions in Canada, has signed an exclusive, five-year agreement for Everlink to provide EFT services for the Canadian national credit union system.

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SWITCH/MAESTRO VOLUME

“Switch/Maestro” ATM debit card usage outside the UK is up 19% at mid-year, with 9.6 million transactions year-to-date. Last year, over 20 million “Switch/Maestro” transactions were undertaken outside the UK, with ATM transactions accounting for over 18m. There are currently 22 million UK “Switch/Maestro” cardholders who can use their debit card in over 890,000 cash machines and at over 7.8 million retailers worldwide.
The “Maestro” logo has traditionally appeared on the back of “Switch” cards, but is starting to move to the front following the agreement between Switch and MasterCard to replace “Switch” with the “Maestro” global debit brand over the next few years. The “Maestro” brand mark now appears on 466 million cards worldwide and is accepted for purchases at over seven million merchant terminals in 93 countries and territories.

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Ford Motor Company Selects Paymentech for Processing

Ford Motor Company has selected Paymentech for electronic payment processing at its nearly 5,000 dealerships across the country. Under the deal, Paymentech will provide access to debit, fleet and gift cards. Paymentech will also become the preferred processor for the company’s system-wide “FORDSTAR” charge and check services program. Paymentech supports the Certegy check guarantee system. The full transition to Paymentech processing is targeted for completion in the fourth quarter.

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Small Business VISA Usage Up 27%

VISA International reported this morning that small business nearly outpaced corporate and government usage of VISA products over the past year. Usage growth by small businesses is up 26.4% for the year ending June 30th, to more than $79.3 billion, which includes transactions using “VISA Business” credit and debit cards, as well as small business inventory payments using “VISA Distribution.” Transactions by medium-to-large business and government clients grew 21.3% to just under $79.5 billion per year, including volume on “VISA Corporate” and “VISA Purchasing” credit and debit cards. The commercial sector was up 11.8%. Annual growth rates in VISA’s commercial debit products are 27.6%, and volume amounted to more than $29 billion per year at the end of June.

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Metris Unloads Accounts to Improve Liquidity

Metris Companies has closed on the sale of a portfolio of approximately 160,000 credit card accounts and $590 million in receivables. Metris says it will take a third-quarter pre-tax charge of approximately $75 to $85 million due to the sale. The loss associated with the portfolio sale will be largely offset by a gain to be realized in the third quarter from the previously announced sale of the membership and warranty products and operations of Metris’ enhancement services business. Metris also announced that it replaced a $610 million asset-backed securitization maturing in early 2004 to improve its liquidity. The company had faced a September 30th deadline to obtain the new financing.

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American Express Introduces Expense Management Reports

American Express has launched a free, online tool, that provides American Express Business cardholders with access to detailed and customizable account information. The new “Expense Management Reports” also offers the option to download data into “Quickbooks” and other financial software and provides access to expense records dating back as far as two years. EMR also enables business cardholders to view spending data online five business days after the end of each billing period; organize data into detailed spend categories; sort charges for all cards by date date, card used, merchant, category or amount; and organize spending by month, quarter or year-to-date.

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