bcgi Signs Three for Payment Card-Enabled Prepaid Airtime

Boston Communications Group has signed new carrier implementations of its “Payment Agent Service” with Cellular One of Northeast Arizona, Cellular One of East-Central Illinois, and MI-based Thumb Cellular. The new service enables them to offer their prepaid wireless subscribers the ability to purchase airtime using their payment cards anytime, anywhere. In addition, bcgi enables carriers to bring the offering to market quickly through its TOTALsource implementation model.

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ASIA-PACIFIC RECOVERY

Thailand and India manifested the largest increases in consumer confidence from six months ago, while China and New Zealand remained optimistic, albeit at slightly reduced levels, while consumers in Japan, Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong remained pessimistic. The Asia/Pacific region has been hard hit this year with the outbreak of SARS and the spillover effects of the war in Iraq and the threat of terrorism. The findings come from MasterCard’s “MasterIndex of Consumer Confidence” survey which studies 13 markets in Asia/Pacific. MasterCard International previously reported that its gross dollar volume declined in the Asia/Pacific region for the first time. During the first quarter of this year, MasterCard’s gross dollar volume dipped 6.8% to $54.2 billion. Card volume in South Korea particularly declined for all card issuers as the country continues to deal with huge charge-offs. MasterCard said Thailand’s rise to the top place in consumer optimism in Asia/Pacific is a direct reflection of the economy’s ability to generate strong income and employment growth from its domestic sector, especially in consumption related activities.

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SCM FINEREAD

SCM Microsystems has become the third company worldwide to achieve “FINREAD” compliance. A “FINREAD” compliant card reader, like the “STR-FINREAD,” is a universal PC peripheral device that can reliably secure smart card initiated transactions on the Internet in a non-trusted environment, such as a home PC. The “FINREAD” standard also guarantees interoperability between different smart card issuing entities and across multiple reader manufacturers. Carried out under the auspices of the European Commission, the multi-organization “FINREAD” program involves Banksys, Groupement des Cartes Bancaires, MasterCard Europe, Ingenico, Interpay Nederland, SIZ, VISA, France Telecom, Canal Plus Technologies, Sagem, Orga, OMNIKEY, and GTA.

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PAYSPOT DEALS

Euronet Worldwide announced that U.S. ATM processor Innobeta and ATM manufacturer NexTran have joined the “PaySpot”
program. “PaySpot” is a new U.S.-based top-up service that enables consumers to purchase prepaid wireless airtime and long-distance calling plans from ATM and POS devices. Consumers can recharge prepaid accounts from all major wireless carriers as well as more than 20 other regional wireless carriers. The program processes PIN-based debit/credit card transactions at the ATM, and immediately credits the consumers’ prepaid accounts. Cash-based purchases using a POS terminal are also accepted at “PaySpot” locations. “PaySpot” services are supported by
several ATM processors, including Concord EFS and Genpass, ATM manufacturers such as Triton and Tidel and more than 20 independent sales organizations, including Financial Technologies, ATM America, ATM USA, The Bailey Group and Welch Systems.

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Cap One Aims for Super-Prime Market with 4.99% Card

Seeking to establish itself as a market leader in the super-prime market, sub- prime specialist Capital One announced today a fixed on-going interest rate of 4.99% to its best customers. Capital One’s new “Platinum MasterCard” will offer the 4.99% fixed APR on new purchases and balance transfers. The new card comes in a market where a growing number of consumers understand that the majority of so-called “fixed” rates have little if any credibility, subject to change upon fifteen days notice. Cap One dubbed the card “the lowest long-term fixed rate in the nation.” The issuer was unable to define the length of “long-term” used in direct mail solicitations for the card. The new card also offers no balance transfer or cash advance fees and no annual fee.

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Chiles’ Santander Hires Former MasterCard Regional President

Santander Central Hispano in Chile has hired Fernando Canas as Managing Director in charge of Grupo Santander’s credit and debit card payment systems in Latin America. Currently, he is CEO of Banco Santander Chile. Mr. Canas has also been the President of MasterCard International for Latin America and the Caribbean. Santander Chile has 346 branches and 1,104 ATMs.

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United Awards Sweet Spots and Free International Tickets

United Airlines has launched a special promotion to retain its most elite flyers and also announced a new promotion to reward international business flyers. Last week, United awarded “1K Flyers” four “Sweet Spot Certificates” enabling them to upgrade any fare, worldwide, on United’s system between July 15th, 2003 and February 29, 2004. United also announced this morning that “United First” and “United Business” class passengers who purchase a qualifying international roundtrip ticket on United for travel between July 9, 2003 and September 14, 2003 will earn a free award ticket valid for travel to any of over 650 destinations around the world served by United and the Star Alliance carriers. Last month, United launched a promotion offering a free domestic roundtrip for flying three paid, qualifying roundtrip trips on United or United Express between June 5 and September 30, 2003. The new offers are expected to revitalize the “Bank One/United Mileage Plus” credit card program which has been experiencing a drop-off in consumer response. (CF Library 6/10/03)

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HSBC Opts for Strategy Science for Fraud Referral

HSBC Bank has signed as the first client to implement Fair Isaac’s new “Strategy Science for Fraud Referral. The strategy development solution will provide the global financial services organization with unprecedented fraud control for its credit card portfolio while increasing approved transactions and improving cardholder experience. A typical fraud referral strategy today impacts more than $60 in non-fraudulent transactions for every $1 of fraud captured.

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Chex Services Signs & Renews ATM Contracts

CO-based Equitex and its subsidiary, Chex Services has inked two new contracts for full booth cash access services, re-signed two contracts upon their expiration, extended two existing contracts, and added the ATM contracts at two existing locations. Chex was awarded the contracts for full booth Cash Access Services at the Casino Apache Travel Center in Mescalero, New Mexico, and the Cliff Castle Casino in Camp Verde, Arizona. Chex now provides varying levels of cash access services to 46 casinos and other entertainment facilities in the United States. Chex also announced today that its collection agency subsidiary, Collection Solutions, has signed an agreement to perform third-party collections for Sand’s Real Estate of St. Cloud, Minnesota, a multi-family housing property management company.

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May Consumer Debt Declines Slightly

Consumer revolving credit growth continues to slow due to the siphoning-off of card debt to home mortgage and equity loans. During May, Americans added $3.1 billion in revolving credit, mostly credit cards, compared to $3.3 billion one year ago. According to preliminary figures released Tuesday afternoon by the Federal Reserve, revolving consumer credit stood at $725.0 billion, at the end of May, compared to $708.7 billion one year ago. Bank credit card debt (excluding store and gas credit cards) at the end of the first quarter was $645.6 billion, or roughly 89% of total revolving credit, according to CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]). This compares to $660.9 billion at the end of 2002. According to the latest government figures, American consumers were $1.760 trillion in debt, exclusive of home mortgages during May.

REVOLVING CREDIT HISTORICAL ($billions)
May 03 Apr 03 Mar 03 Feb 03 Jan 03 Dec 02 Nov 02
GRWTH: 5.3% 2.0 4.1 5.9 5.2 -6.7 -1.4
$OWED: $725.0 721.9b 720.7 718.6 715.5 712.4 716.8

Oct 02 Sep 02 Aug 02 Jul 02 Jun 02 May 02 Apr 02
GRWTH: 1.6% 3.0% 6.2 6.0 4.1 8.0 4.8
$OWED: $717.9 721.3b 719.5 715.6 712.1 708.7 705.4

Source: Federal Reserve; revised figures as of 07/08/03; For complete historical data visit CardData ([www.carddata.com][2]).

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

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