STV Cards

A new study projects that the number of prepaid debit cards issued annually will surge from 6.2 million in 2002, to almost 40 million in 2007. The research also found that among people in the U.S. with credit cards, more than 40% own a credit card that is within 5% of its credit limit. The PELORUS Group report entitled “Stored Value: 21st Century Currency” says this forces cardholders to use their credit cards like debit cards as they must pay down the balance to make additional purchases. PELORUS also says that approximately 50 million adults in the USA don’t possess credit cards and nearly 10 million households do not have bank accounts. The report concludes that due to these facts, a possibility exists for a major shift from credit to debit cards in the near term. The major areas of potential growth include prepaid debit cards for retail, payroll and insurance claims applications.

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ID Theft Complaints

The FTC noted yesterday that it added nearly 279,000 complaints from identity theft victims last year to its “Identity Theft Data Clearinghouse” database, compared to 117,000 complaints filed in 2001. Consumers are advised to contact the three national consumer reporting agencies and have a fraud alert placed in their file; close accounts identity thieves have accessed and dispute unauthorized charges; and report the theft to the police and get a police report. The FTC also has worked to provide consumers with information through its consumer education and outreach efforts.

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TNS & TCS

Atlanta-based Terminal Cash Solutions, a/k/a SMARTBanks has taken license with Toronto-based TNS Smart Network for its “Smart Processing Suite.” The proprietary software enables processing for ATMs, cashless ATMs, POS and POS scrip devices, as well as stored value, payroll and gift cards. SMARTBanks is currently processing PIN-based ATM and POS transactions from more than 2,200 locations, with a network operations center in Birmingham, Alabama and banking, marketing, and sales teams based in Southern Florida. TNS Smart Network is Canada’s largest privately owned transaction processor.

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MC LATIN AMERICA

In terms of payment card volume, Latin America is MasterCard’s fastest growing region with an annual growth rate of nearly 30%. During the first quarter, the region posted gross dollar volume of US$8.1 billion. Purchase volume, which makes up 62% of total volume, was up 22%, while cash advance volume soared by 44%. The number of cards issued in the region increased 14% over the same period in 2002, to 44.5 million. With 34.1 million “Maestro” cards in circulation, the growth for first quarter was close to 21% over the same period in 2002, and the number of merchant terminals in the region increased close to 22%. MasterCard has 1.4 million merchant locations in Latin America.

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BOFA SANTANDER ATMS

Bank of America customers now have free access to 1,770 Grupo Financerio Santander Serfin ATMs throughout Mexico. In return, Santander Serfin customers will have free access to 13,000 Bank of America ATMs in the USA. The reciprocal agreement will take effect June 15th. In December 2002, Bank of America acquired 24.9% of Santander subsidiary, Grupo Financerio Santander Serfin. Bank of America says 75% of the total U.S. Hispanic population lives within its service area.

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TankBank

ConocoPhillips has inked a deal with Dell Computer for POS technology/services for its new “TankBank” customer loyalty program. Dell will install POS systems built on “Dell OptiPlex” desktop computers at participating Conoco, 76 and Phillips 66 stores. The “TankBank” application runs on AutoGas Systems’ “REGAL E-POS,” an open architecture operating system that powers dispenser control, card reader, cash acceptor and the ConocoPhillips credit card network. “TankBank” is ConocoPhillips’ new loyalty program that combines gasoline savings at the pump with in-store promotions. Abilene, TX-based AutoGas Systems offers POS solutions and dispenser control systems to loyalty programs.

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BANCO-24-HORAS

The Sao Paulo-based Banco24Horas ATM network will now dispense reals to foreign travelers using their American Express, MasterCard and VISA cards in Brazil. There are more than 2,000 Banco24Horas network self-service terminals in the country. The terminals offer an English-language menu. Banco24Horas is located in more than 200 cities in major Brazil states, such as Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Minas Gerais, Brasilia, Rio Grande do Sul, Ceara, Bahia, Pernambuco, Amazonas and Alagoas. Last year, Banco24Horas handled more than 120 million transactions for a volume of more than 6 billion reals.

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Voice Transactions

Amtrak has successfully handled more than $2 million in credit card transactions since April through an automated speech system. The new speech-enabled credit card application system is provided by Boston-based SpeechWorks International, and runs on a platform from Dallas-based Intervoice. When completing a reservation with “Julie,” Amtrak’s automated speech system, callers simply say their zip code, credit card type and number followed by the expiration date. Tickets are picked up at an Amtrak kiosk at the train station. To date, over 10 million callers have called Amtrak’s “Julie” to access train status details, schedules, fares and reservation information. Amtrak says the automated speech system has increased customer satisfaction by 53% over Amtrak’s previous touch-tone system and saved the passenger rail company approximately $13 million. Other SpeechWorks’ clients include Continental Airlines, CIBC Bank, State of Michigan and Thrifty Car Rental.

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MC Asia-Pacific

MasterCard International’s gross dollar volume declined in the Asia-Pacific region for the first time. During the first quarter, MasterCard’s gross dollar volume dipped 6.8% to $54.2 billion, according to this week’s The RAM Report ([www.ramreport.com][1]). One year ago, the gross dollar volume was up nearly 18% in the first quarter. This year, purchase dollar volume declined 1.37%, while cash advance dollar volume declined 13.19%. Card volume in South Korea has declined sharply for all card issuers as the country continues to deal with spiraling credit card delinquencies and huge charge-offs. MasterCard also noted that the conversion to the domestic payments brand in China was partly to blame for the decline.

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

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Talking ATM Report

Pittsburgh-based Wizzard Software has released a detailed marketing report for the talking ATM market. The report is a compilation from several outside sources and discusses the size, scope and potential as well as Wizzard’s current and future position in the market. Talking ATMs help ATM operators to comply with government regulation 508 allowing access to technology for people with visual disabilities while at the same time have the potential to generate additional revenues through talking advertisements. Currently, Wizzard Software is the leader in the Talking ATM market and plans to roll out new Speech Management Software for Talking ATM management in the third quarter of 2003.

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