Intuit Buys Innovative Merchant Solutions

Intuit has signed am agreement to acquire Innovative Merchant Solutions. The Calabasas, CA-based provider of credit and debit card processing services for small businesses has 110 employees. Intuit says that in three years it has attracted 40,000 customers and created a $9 million business with a limited offering. Intuit will retain all IMS employees as well as Joe Kaplan, IMS’ CEO. Intuit had annual revenue of more than $1.6 billion in its fiscal year 2003.

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U.S. Bank Expands Off-Line Debit Rewards Program

Minneapolis-based U.S. Bank has launched four debit card reward programs that it projects will generate more than $30 million in cash rewards to customers by the end of 2004. However, most of the off-line debit reward programs offer a reduced reward structure compared to one year ago. The reduced rewards are attributed the recent debit card settlement which has cut off-line debit card interchange by 33% as of August 1st. U.S. Bank is now offering the “Cash Bonus VISA Check Card,” “VISA Extras for Check Card,” “WorldPerks VISA Check Card,” and the “Harley-Davidson VISA Check Card.” All four products are part of the “Checking That Pays” program. The “Cash Bonus VISA Check Card” offers users a 0.25% cash rebate for qualifying off-line purchases. The “VISA Extras for Check Card” programs is a points-based reward option in which customers will receive one reward point for each dollar on qualifying transactions, with a nominal value of 1/4 cent each. The “WorldPerks VISA Check Card” offers one Northwest Airlines mile for every $2 in signature-based purchases, with a nominal value of one cent each. The “Harley-Davidson VISA Check Card” offers one entry into the monthly drawing and one entry into the bonus drawing at the end of the year for each qualifying off-line purchase. The sweepstakes gives away one new Harley-Davidson motorcycle every month.

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Metris’ Woo Takes Over CFO Job at Trimas

Benson Woo, former SVP of business development at Metris Companies, has joined MI-based TriMas Corporation, a high-end, specialty niche manufacturing business, as CFO. Woo has 24 years of solid financial and executive management expertise, having served as corporate CFO and treasurer in large global organizations, including 15 years with General Motors Corporation. He also has significant experience conducting business in Europe, Latin America and Asia. Woo earned a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Mass. and a master’s of business administration in finance from Harvard Business School in Boston, Mass. He is fluent in Portuguese and Chinese. TriMas is a diversified growth company of high-end, specialty niche businesses manufacturing a variety of products for commercial, industrial and consumer markets worldwide.

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CheckFree Nabs UK’s Martin Pearce

Atlanta-based CheckFree has hired Martin Pearce from Morgan Stanley Asset Management Group as Executive Director of Business Development. Pearce has been a member of the ISITC executive committee, co-representative for the UK Securities Market Practice group, a member of the global executive SMPG committee and the GSTPA fund manager’s council. CheckFree is the leading provider of financial electronic commerce services and products.

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Citibank’s Payroll Card Links Up to Allpoint Network

Citicorp Electronic Financial Services has joined the Allpoint surcharge-free ATM network, to provide surcharge-free ATM access for users of its payroll debit cards. Access to these 25,000 ATMs nationwide will be made available to select Citicorp EFS customers and their employees starting this month. Citicorp EFS actively markets payroll cards under private label branding as well as under the name “Citibank Payroll Card.”

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NextCard Bankruptcy Changed to Chapter 7

The U.S. Bankruptcy Court for Delaware has converted NextCard’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy to a Chapter 7 bankruptcy at request of the Trustee and the FDIC. It is further ORDERED that within 30 days of the date of entry of the Order on the docket, NextCard, Inc. shall file a schedule of current income, current expenditures, all monthly operating report and the statement of intention, if applicable, as required.

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MARKS SPENCER MASTERCARD

High Street retailer Marks and Spencer is currently upgrading its 2.6 million charge card customers to a new credit card offering a loyalty program. The new “Marks & Spencer Money &more Credit Card” will then be offered to the general public in October. The new card was tested in
South Wales for the past eleven months. The “Marks & Spencer Money &more Credit Card” offers 1 point per £1 spent in Marks & Spencer UK stores, catalogue and Internet. The card also awards 1 point per £2 spent outside Marks & Spencer. Points are converted into vouchers to spend exclusively at Marks & Spencer UK stores. The new card will offer a standard retail APR of 14.9% versus the 18.9% currently assessed on the “Marks & Spencer Chargecard.” M&S is the second largest store card issuer in the UK. The company also announced that Marks & Spencer Financial Services is being rebranded as “Marks & Spencer Money.”

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Business Process Outsourcing Faces Challenges

A new research report suggests that business process outsourcing savings are largely a myth. The report from Forrester Research says that firms looking to outsource core business processes like human resources, and finance and administration to gain cost savings will not find a single vendor that can manage such complex offerings. The study says that companies experimenting with business process outsourcing report inflexible contracts, difficulty managing vendors, and a lack of performance metrics. Howevere, because no one vendor is able to completely master the complex set of skills needed to offer an end-to-end outsourcing solution, Forrester says vendors will be forced to focus on serving four individual segments of BPO including simple bulk transactions such as credit card or stock trade processing.

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ACI to Recommend Paragon’s WorkSmart ATM Suite

ACI Worldwide has signed a referral agreement with NC-based Paragon Application Systems to recommend Paragon’s “WorkSmart ATM Suite” to all its “BASE24” customers. With BASE24 and BASE24-es, ACI’s next-generation, open-systems implementation of their world-class payments platform, ACI offers a full range of functionality to support payment transactions in both traditional and emerging channels. While BASE24 included a proprietary configuration tool, for BASE24-es, ACI is recommending the WorkSmart ATM Suite as a comprehensive solution for ATM configuration and testing. Every second of every day, consumers are initiating electronic payment transactions – getting cash at ATMs, using debit and credit cards to make purchases in stores and on the Internet, banking by phone and PC, paying bills online. More than 150 financial institutions in 15 countries use Paragon’s productivity empowering software to improve quality and reduce time-to-market.

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BigPayBack Phone Card Targets College Market

An Indiana prepaid phone card firm has come up with a novel idea to market its “BigPayBack” phone card to the college market. For each $5.00 phone card purchased, the buyer will be entered into a contest to win $3,500 for future college tuition, current tuition or repayment of student loans. The drawing will be held every time 10,000 “BigPayBack” phone cards are sold. TPC Communications says there is no limit on the number of times a person can win an award. A discounted award is given to any winner who elects not to have the award allocated to assist in paying for a student’s college education.

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Cambridge Trust Company Launches Photo Debit Card

Cambridge Trust Company of Massachusetts has introduced a new photo “MasterMoney Debit Card” with the customer’s photo on the front of the card. The ‘PhotoCard’ is available free of charge to new and existing Cambridge Trust Company personal checking account customers. “Since the photograph will be digitized and embossed as part of the plastic, it is one of the most advanced and secure cards in the marketplace and will act as a deterrent to identity theft,” added Roller. Cambridge Bancorp and its subsidiary, Cambridge Trust Company, are based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in the heart of Harvard Square. Cambridge Trust Company is a 113-year-old Massachusetts chartered commercial bank with nine Massachusetts locations in Cambridge, Concord, Lincoln, Weston, and Beacon Hill.

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Mexico’s Banamex Launches First MasterCard SideCard

Banamex has become the first MasterCard financial institution worldwide to offer the new “MasterCard SideCard” as the “Banamex Twin Card.” Banamex, a/k/a Citibank Mexico, is also offering cardholders the ability to set a monthly usage limit per additional card. Issued as a companion card to a full-sized MasterCard card, the new “MasterCard SideCard” is the first companion card capable of incorporating contactless chip technology. This allows issuers the ability to add the MasterCard “PayPass” feature, which provides cardholders with a way to pay in quick payment environments such as fast food restaurants. The “SideCard” has a case which can be attached to a key ring or lanyard while protecting the magnetic stripe. At the point of interaction, the cardholder simply flips the card out of its case and swipes the card through the terminal. Banamex says it has issued the new card to thousands of cardholders since its launch last month.

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