VISA Gift Card Set for a Banner Year

VISA USA expects sales of its “VISA Gift Card” to soar this holiday season. The largest “VISA Gift Card” program is through Simon Property Group which piloted the card August 2001 and has since rolled it out to nearly 160 Simon Malls. Simon reports at 30% jump in gift card sales versus gift certificate sales so far this year. The “VISA Gift Card” is available for consumer gift-giving, as well as corporate incentive, rebate, and promotional uses. The card also offers all the protection and security features cardholders, and can be replaced if lost or stolen. VISA issuers require that the cards can only be purchased by adults over the age of 18. The cards be issued as reloadable or disposable. Card formats include personalized, non-personalized, or themes. However, all non-personalized cards are disposable and have a maximum expiration date of one year.

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Revolving Credit Grows Slightly During July

Americans added a paltry $300 million to total revolving debt during July as the home refinancing market slowed. One year ago, U.S. consumers added $1.9 billion to revolving debt during the month of July. The July figures, released Monday by the Federal Reserve, reverses the one month decline posted in June during which consumers reduced total revolving debt by a revised $1.3 billion, the first such decline in 2003. According to preliminary figures released yesterday by the Federal Reserve, American consumers were $1.774 trillion in debt, exclusive of home mortgages during July. Bank credit card debt (excluding store and gas credit cards) at the end of the first quarter was $645.6 billion, or roughly 90% of total revolving credit, according to CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]).

REVOLVING CREDIT HISTORICAL ($billions)
Jul 03 Jun03 May 03 Apr 03 Mar 03 Feb 03 Jan 03
GRWTH: 0.5% -2.1 7.7 3.4 4.1 5.9 5.2
$OWED: $726.9 726.6 727.9 722.8 720.7 718.6 715.5

Dec 02 Nov 02 Oct 02 Sep 02 Aug 02 Jul 02 Jun 02
GRWTH: -6.7% -1.4 1.6 3.0 6.2 6.0 4.1
$OWED: $712.4 716.8 717.9 721.3 719.5 715.6 712.1
Source: Federal Reserve; revised figures as of 09/08/03;
For complete historical data visit CardData (www.carddata.com).

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

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Zebra to Drop the Eltron Brand Name in November

Zebra Technologies announced last week it will market all of its card imaging products under the “Zebra” brand. Beginning in November, all “Eltron” brand plastic card printers and supplies will be re-branded “Zebra.” Zebra Technologies offers a broad range of applications benefit from thermal bar code label and receipt printers and plastic card printers.

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SKY PEARL VISA

China Southern Airlines and the Guangdong Development Bank have teamed to offer a co-branded VISA credit card. The new “Sky Pearl Club VISA Credit Card” can be used as a typical credit card as well as automatically generating mileage on China’s largest airline. The new card is a dual-currency VISA credit card — offering both domestic (China) and International use and RMB payback. The “China Southern Sky Pearl Credit Club” offers Standard and Gold Cards (with dual RMB and USD currency capability) and Platinum Cards (offering USD currency capability). Credit card users can earn for every 15RMB or $2 USD on each purchase and all China Southern passengers are eligible to apply for this new VISA credit card. China Southern Airlines’ “Sky Pearl Club” members receive numerous club benefits including free checked luggage allowance and new VISA credit card members can use their miles for free flights or class upgrades on China Southern Airlines.

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MasterCard SecureCode Runs on Sun Fire Servers

MasterCard has chosen Sun Microsystems’ “Sun Fire” servers running “Java” technology and the “Solaris” operating platform to run the MasterCard “SecureCode” hosted service. Arcot, a Sun “iForce” partner, is providing its e-payments authentication software, “TransFort,” to facilitate implementation of MasterCard “SecureCode” onto the servers. This hosted service, offered to issuing members worldwide, enables MasterCard and Maestro issuers to protect confidential cardholder data over the Internet, providing cardholder authentication and an enhanced payment guarantee. MasterCard “SecureCode” runs on several “Sun Fire V880” servers for database management and more than a dozen “Sun Fire 280R” servers to run the Sun “ONE” software suite. A second phase for several more “Sun Fire V880” servers is being planned to address growing demand for the service.

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NetSpend Links Up to Allpoint SFA ATM Network

Stored-value card specialist NetSpend has partnered with Allpoint to make the surcharge-free ATM functionality available to its 350,000 “All-Access MasterCard” card-holders. The NetSpend/Allpoint partnership represents the first time that general purpose prepaid card customers will have surcharge-free cash access through an ATM network nationwide, a benefit usually reserved to high balance bank accountholders or payroll debit cardholders. The prepaid “All-Access MasterCard” card, issued by Inter National Bank, is targeted at unbanked American households. Allpoint’s nationwide network has 25,000 surcharge-free ATMs. “All-Access” cardholders may also opt to participate in NetSpend’s proprietary “CredAbility” program, which helps cardholders establish a positive payment history with credit bureaus.

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