Small Business Owners Take a Break this Year

The “OPEN Small Business Network 2003 Semi-Annual Monitor” from American Express has found that 66% of small business owners are planning summer vacations of at least a week this year, an increase of 15% over 2002. Business owners in the South are the most likely (74%) to cite summertime travel plans, followed by business owners in the West (67%), Northeast (66%) and North Central (53%). Overall, 31% of business owners say they try to link vacations with business trips to save time and money. The OPEN Small Business Network Semi-Annual Monitor, conducted each March and October, is based on a nationally representative sample of 781 small business owners/managers of companies with fewer than 100 employees.

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Standard Register Launches ArmoredTrac for ATMs

OH-based Standard Register has launched a new automated solution that utilizes bar code technology to track the movement of cash deposits with ATMs. “ArmoredTrac” is designed to track cash, checks and credit card transaction pickups faster. An audit log provides a full accounting of every movement. The system also includes a backup data-archiving function. “ArmoredTrac” offers complete reporting capability. In addition to providing pre-defined reports, it gives users the ability to search the database, examining collection activities by time of day, operator, pick-up point or any other parameter established in the database. The “ArmoredTrac” software was developed exclusively for Standard Register by its long-time business partner ASC.

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Cubic Takes Smart Cards On-Bus

San Diego-based Cubic has introduced an on-vehicle transit ticketing system that issues bus riders paper transfers and processes contactless smart cards. The “Mobile Ticketing Machine” enables public transit authorities to accept multiple forms of payment, including cash, stored value tickets, time-based passes and smart cards. Cubic’s new “MTM” product expands the capability of the company’s “Driver Control Unit,” which was introduced to the public last year. Cubic is creating multi-agency, multi-mode regional fare collection systems in various areas such as London, Los Angeles, San Diego and the Northern Virginia-Baltimore-Washington, D.C. area, where regional bus and subway providers will be able to allow their riders to pay their fares with a common fare card. In London, the “Oyster Smart Card” is used; in the D.C. area, it is the “WMATA SmarTrip” card; and Cubic is performing a contract with the Port Authority Trans-Hudson rapid-transit rail system, where the company’s smart card technology will be integrated with New York City Transit’s “MetroCard” system.

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VeriFone Inks Major PinPad Deal in Africa

VeriFone this morning announced that Africa’s largest food retailer, has embarked on a three-year project to upgrade store equipment to EMV using its “SC 5000” programmable smart card PINpads. The deal with the Shoprite Group of Companies is valued at $4 million. The company says this project is the largest mass installation of the “VeriFone SC 5000” programmable POS card acceptance devices in the world to date. VeriFone is working with JSE-listed Prism Holdings on the project.

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BMO Mosaik MasterCard Goes Online

Bank of Montreal has signed an agreement with Canada Post to enable its 3 million “BMO Mosaik MasterCard” holders to receive and pay their monthly statements online. BMO Mosaik MasterCard joins a list of more than 65 Mailers sending mail through the online epost service. epost provides a free service that enables consumers to receive, pay and manage their mail in a central, secure location on the Internet. Customers of BMO Mosaik MasterCard who wish to receive their statements online simply sign up for a free epost mailbox at epost.ca and add BMO Mosaik MasterCard to their personal list of Mailers to begin receiving their documents online, rather than in the physical mail.

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U.S. Bank Now Offers 0% APR through Agent Banks

U.S. Bank has extended its six-month 0% APR credit card offer to its 1,200 agent banks in the Elan Financial Services program. The intro rate is offered to customers opening a new Elan Visa Platinum, Elan Travel Rewards Visa Platinum, Elan Visa Classic, Elan Cash Rewards Visa Platinum and Elan Cash Rewards Visa Classic cards. In addition, The Elan Cash Reward card gives cardholders up to one percent cash back on purchases. Elan Financial Services, part of U.S. Bancorp, supports more than 6,500 ATMs, 14 million ATM/POS cards, and 8 million credit cardholders with a complete range of products and services including credit card issuing, ATM, debit card, and merchant processing.

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Barnhisel Joins Embarcadero Management Team

Former senior management executive at VISA and Citibank, Katherine Barnhisel, has been hired by Embarcadero Technologies as VP/marketing. Ms. Barnhisel will assume responsibility for all areas of marketing for the organization. Prior to Embarcadero, Ms. Barnhisel held senior director and vice president of marketing positions at BEA Systems and WebLogic, and most recently served as vice president of marketing for AltoWeb. Embarcadero Technologies, Inc., is a leading provider of software solutions that enable organizations to build, optimize and manage relational databases, the key underlying technology of business critical applications.

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ABN AMRO P-CARD

ABN AMRO N.V. has launched a “MasterCard Purchase Card” that features “Smart Data OnLine” for Web-based, real-time information management. The new card is powered on Card Tech Limited’s “PRIME BIZ” platform which provides enhanced level-3 data, that is fully compliant with the latest MasterCard requirements. “PRIME BIZ” is a consolidated card and merchant management solution designed to address the specific processing requirements of the commercial card market, while also supporting retail card programs. The new p-card program builds on a five-year relationship between CTL and ABN AMRO.

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USD ATMS

ABN AMRO is installing the first US dollar ATMs in the Netherlands at Schiphol Airport this week. A second US dollar ATM will be deployed in mid-July. The installation of these US dollar ATMs will complement the following services that ABN AMRO already provides to leisure and business travellers at Schiphol including 8 branches, 5 foreign currency exchange machines, 6 sealed bag dispensers, 12 euro ATMs, 2 coin roll dispensers, and 15 cash card loading points.

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Thin Excess Spreads in ABS Raises Investor Concern

Among credit card asset-backed securities, recently reported excess spread levels on several fixed-rate, high-coupon transactions are now thin, and could trigger early amortization. At the end of May, six credit card ABS fixed-rate series reported three-month average excess spread below 2.00%. Fitch Ratings says this noncredit-related early amortization risk has also caused investors to gain a greater appreciation for trust structural nuances, particularly the prepayment protection offered by the various socialist, semisocialist, and nonsocialist structures. Fitch says that although limited, issuers maintain some flexibility in managing performance and prepayment risk. However, these options are broader portfolio management initiatives that would likely boost performance over time, including re-pricing accounts to boost portfolio yield, accelerating receivable growth in an attempt to dilute reported losses, and adding newly originated or better performing accounts to the trust. Fitch says that a relatively simple way to protect against the excess spread margin compression in these fixed-rate deals is to incorporate interest rate swaps into the transactions. A good example is MBNA Master “Credit Card Trust II,” which has several high-coupon, fixed-rate deals but has effectively hedged against the falling rate environment by employing interest rate swaps and their payments within the trust. As such, excess spread for MBNA fixed-rate transactions has remained relatively strong.

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iBIZ Software Inks Authentication Deal with UK’s Kwikpay

Kwikpay Technologies Limited of London has selected iBIZ Software of Texas to supply its cardholder authentication program. Under the deal, iBIZ will supply its “CommerSafe MPI” to provide Kwikpay merchants payment authentication services under the “Verified by Visa” and “MasterCard SecureCode” programs. Kwikpay’s online service reaches into the UK, EU, USA, Asia and Africa. Founded in 2000, iBIZ is a pioneer in online payment card security and offers robust authentication solutions for the entire e-payments industry.

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