MSN Banking Center & Informa

Microsoft has signed a three-year agreement with London-based Informa Research Services for consumer bank product data for the MSN Banking Center. Under the terms of the agreement, Informa Research Services will provide banking data to help consumers increase gains or minimize costs on banking products, identify the best offers for them, and apply directly online. The Informa data feeds represent a significant addition to the MSN Banking Center, which recently underwent the most substantial overhaul since its launch several years ago. Informa Research Services will continuously update the data available on MSN, providing consumers with the most current bank product information available.

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Networks Targeted

MasterCard’s CEO said last week that its $1 billion settlement in the anti-trust class action debit card litigation will not cost the association as much as it appears. Robert Selander said that when you calculate the net present value of the amount paid out over 10 years, and consider the offsetting tax benefit, it’s a much smaller figure. However, Selander noted that the debit card lawsuit is not the only threat that faces MasterCard. He said it is ironic that MasterCard’s continued business success makes it a bigger and bigger target for government regulators worldwide. Selander says MasterCard’s success could lead to intervention that could disadvantage the four-party payment structure as we know it. Selander said from the Reserve Bank of Australia … to the Office of Fair Trading in the U.K. … to the Department of Justice in the U.S. … these legal and regulatory challenges are among the most significant threats he can imagine.

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Express Money Card

Household has signed an agreement to manage the private label credit card program for Furniture Row Companies, and its 250 stores in 29 states, and will launch the “Furniture Row Express Money Card”. Furniture Row brands include Oak Express, Sofa Mart, Bedroom Expressions, Denver Mattress & Furniture Row Outlet. Customers using the new Express Money Card will be able to purchase bedding and specialty home furnishings for their entire home. Household’s retail services business works with more than 70 partners at 63,000 locations across the country to help them attract new customers and build consumer loyalty.

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Hacker Law

A new California law will take effect next week requiring companies that do business within the state to notify customers of any security breaches wherein personal information, such as credit card numbers, are accessed by an unauthorized party. The hacker disclosure law is also gaining traction at the national level. U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein reportedly plans to introduce similar federal legislation next month. The new law exempts some hacks if disclosure would hinder a criminal investigation. Otherwise companies are required to notify customers in the most expedient time possible. InternetWeek says of 376 organizations polled for the “2003 Computer Security Institute/FBI Computer Crime and Security Survey,” each experiencing a breach in the past year, half say they kept the incidents quiet. Thirty percent of those surveyed reported the breach to law enforcement, while 21% sought legal counsel. A majority of organizations say negative publicity was the reason for not disclosing security breaches to law enforcement.

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e-llegiance & LoyaltyCentral

Smart Chip Technologies announced it has won a lawsuit against CIT Canada and will now launch its “e-llegiance” and “LoyaltyCentral” smart card-based rewards program management systems in the fourth quarter. CIT Canada Inc. is a division of Silverline Technologies Inc., headquartered in Piscataway, New Jersey, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of the multinational corporation Silverline Technologies Ltd., with its registered head office in Mumbai, India. SCTN recently contracted smart card and e-payments leader, the Airos Group of Oakville, Ontario, Canada, to support the development of its 2nd generation, end-to-end smart loyalty software system architecture and design.

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Ryanair & AmEx

Ireland-based Ryanair announced that as of June 30th it will no longer accept the American Express charge card. In order to continue to offer even lower fares to consumers and as part of its ongoing cost reduction programme, Ryanair will no longer accept the excessive charges levied by American Express. These charges are substantially higher than those of the other major credit card issuers.

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EU Corp Card

MasterCard has become the official corporate payments card of the European Commission. MasterCard Europe and Belgium-based member financial institution BCC (Bank Card Company) announced last week they were awarded the EU card program, replacing a five-year old corporate card program. The new program introduces MasterCard cards for the first time as the Commission’s official corporate credit card. It will be introduced to Commission employees in a phased roll-out throughout 2003, with the majority of the 4,000 cards expected to be rolled out in the first year.

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CARD LIABILITIES

The Office of Fair Trading has asked the High Court to clarify a section of the “Consumer Credit Act 1974” which permits cardholders to make a claim directly to their credit card provider in disputed overseas transactions. “Section 75” of the 1974 “Act” makes credit card issuers jointly liable with suppliers if the consumer has a valid claim for misrepresentation and/or breach of contract by the supplier. The law only applies if the cash price of an item is more than £100, but no more than £30,000, and the credit limit is no more than £25,000. The OFT has named Lloyds TSB and Tesco Personal Finance as defendants in the case. However, the ruling will affect all credit card issuers in the country except issuers of debit cards and charge cards. The OFT says some issuers have been challenging its interpretation of the law saying the liberal interpretation produces a major liability exposure. HSBC, Bank of Scotland and Sainsbury’s Bank have previously assured the OFT that they will honor valid claims for overseas purchases. The OFT expects the High Court to have a full hearing before the end of this year.

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SCA & Levinson Jewelers

Levinson Jewelers, a high-end Plantation, Fla. retailer, has retained Shoppers Charge Accounts Co., a division of Hudson United Bank of Mahwah, N.J., to develop and administer its private label credit card program.

Founded in 1983, Levinson’s has developed a following in its upscale South Florida community and surrounding areas as a destination for high quality diamonds, watches and fine jewelry. The company, which recently doubled its store’s size to 10,000 square feet, features local football legend Dan Marino and his wife in advertisements, catalogs and billboards. The new Levinson’s credit card from SCA offers cardholders special privileges, such as six months or 12 months interest-free from the time of purchase.

SCA services brick-and-mortar and catalog retailers, who also have e-commerce businesses, throughout the U.S. The company acquires retailers’ receivables or will develop private label credit card programs for merchants who currently don’t offer a house charge. In both situations, SCA assumes responsibility for generating customers’ billing statements; managing credit, collection, and lockbox functions; and creating customized marketing programs.

Ranked among the nation’s largest private label credit card companies, SCA is a division of Hudson United Bank, a subsidiary of Hudson United Bancorp (NYSE: HU).

Hudson United Bancorp is a $7.8 billion asset company with over 200 branch offices in New Jersey, Connecticut, New York, and Pennsylvania. Hudson United Bancorp’s subsidiaries offer a full array of innovative products and services to commercial and retail accounts, including imaged checking accounts, 24-hour telephone and Internet banking, loans by phone, alternative investment products, insurance products, private label credit cards programs and a wide variety of commercial loans and services including asset based loans, SBA loans, international services and cash management services. Wealth management services are also provided to individuals and businesses. Public sector products and services are provided to local and state governments, municipalities, educational institutions, civic and not-for-profit organizations.

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CARD LIABILITIES

The Office of Fair Trading has asked the High Court to clarify a section of the “Consumer Credit Act 1974” which permits cardholders to make a claim directly to their credit card provider in disputed overseas transactions. “Section 75” of the 1974 “Act” makes credit card issuers jointly liable with suppliers if the consumer has a valid claim for misrepresentation and/or breach of contract by the supplier. The law only applies if the cash price of an item is more than £100, but no more than £30,000, and the credit limit is no more than £25,000. The OFT has named Lloyds TSB and Tesco Personal Finance as defendants in the case. However, the ruling will affect all credit card issuers in the country except issuers of debit cards and charge cards. The OFT says some issuers have been challenging its interpretation of the law saying the liberal interpretation produces a major liability exposure. HSBC, Bank of Scotland and Sainsbury’s Bank have previously assured the OFT that they will honor valid claims for overseas purchases. The OFT expects the High Court to have a full hearing before the end of this year.

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MoneySend

MasterCard International has launched the first phase of a new person-to-person funds transfer service in Europe. “MasterCard MoneySend” can be used for both overseas and domestic transfers, complies with anti-money laundering regulations, and leverages MasterCard’s “Maestro” online POS debit network. The Royal Bank of Scotland Group in the UK, Euro Kartensysteme in Germany, and CartaSi in Italy, have teamed with MasterCard to conduct the first phase of the European roll-out of the service. The European program is a hosting service, which will be run by MasterCard with program partners Magex and paybox. MasterCard says that “MoneySend” has the potential to be integrated into a bank’s electronic channels and might be expanded to a global level. There are 226 million “Maestro” cardholders in Europe and another 240 million worldwide.

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