Extended Zero Offers

As 0% intro APR offers remain popular among most major credit card issuers, some banks are now extending the rates beyond a full year. Fleet Bank is now offering applicants of its “Platinum VISA” a 0% APR on purchases through September 2004. However, Fleet requires cardholders to transfer a balance of at least $100 to trigger the 0% rate for purchases, according to CardWatch ([www.cardwatch.com][1]). The balance transfer APR for the “Fleet Platinum VISA” is currently 8.9%. Citibank continues to offer at least a 12-month 0% APR on balance transfers. This month Citibank is offering 0% balance transfer interest good through August 2004. Other top issuers offer at least a six-month 0% intro APR, according to CardWatch.

ISSUER 0% APR EXPIRES
Citibank Bal Trans Aug 04
MBNA Cash & BT Apr 04
Bank One Purch & BT 6 months
Discover Bal Trans Mar 04
Chase Bal Trans Jun 04
Capital One Purchases Dec 03
Am Express Purchases 6 months
Providian Pur & BT Jan 04
Household Bal Trans Dec 03
Fleet Purchases Sep 04

Source: CardWatch ([www.cardwatch.com][2])

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

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USTT Intelligent Vending Exec

PA-based USA Technologies has hired former Coca-Cola executive Jim Turner as VP/Channel Manager, Intelligent Vending. Mr. Turner’s will leverage his extensive global experience to expand USA Technologies’ business with The Coca-Cola System and other major beverage companies and vending operators, manufacturers and suppliers. Mr. Turner joins two other vending industry professionals at USA Technologies who together have more than 50 years of vending experience with the Pepsi Cola Company. Turner also held senior positions with Coca-Cola in Europe, Africa and the USA, bringing experience of technology innovations as well as project management for beverage operations from third world to highly automated and sophisticated facilities in South Africa and Europe.

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Overseas Liabilities

The Office of Fair Trading in the United Kingdom 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. According to “The RAM Report,” “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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FTC Operation No-Credit Settlement

The FTC announced Friday that Dallas-based Credit Card Services and Destyni Enterprises have agreed to pay $85,000 in consumer redress as part of the FTC’s “Operation No-Credit” launched last September. The FTC alleged that the defendant violated the FTC Act and the Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR) by offering consumers major credit cards, such as a MasterCard or Visa, for a one-time up-front fee. In addition to paying redress, the settlement prohibits the defendants from misrepresenting any fact material to a consumer’s decision to purchase any good or service marketed by the defendant.

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PPPAY.COM

Harlow-based PPPay Ltd has launched a payment service for online auctions and has landed a contract with the UK’s 2nd most active online auction site, eBid.co.uk. PPPay.com offers both an instant payment service as well as an escrow payments service. The company does not charge a fee for sending or receiving payments but does charge 49p or 1% above £49.00 to upload or download funds from a bank account. Escrow payments cost £1.49 up to £50.00 or, 3% of money sent above £50.00. PPPay Ltd is only one of ten firms authorized by the Financial Services Authority to handle small e-money transactions in the UK. The others include: Crystal Blue Card; Ixaris Systems; Nochex; PayHound; Port Paye; Sterling Origination; Vodafone; Vodafone Mobile Commerce; and, Ymogen.

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e-Port Driver

PA-based USA Technologies has promoted Cecil Blanco Ledesma as VP/Channel Manager, Hospitality Services to lead “e-Port” offerings into the hospitality market. Mr. Ledesma has extensive experience in the hospitality market and has been a major influence in establishing Business Express as the dominant brand for business services catering to the hospitality industry in North America. Ledesma has also led the USA Technologies team in the development and implementation of business models to leverage e-Port offerings into a variety of opportunities in the hospitality industry. USA Technologies is a leader in wireless non-cash and m-commerce transactions, associated financial/network services and interactive media technology.

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PREMIUM EZ PAYMENT

Okinawa Cellular Telephone and KDDI have partnered to a new payment collection service where charges for purchases of products through participating online shopping sites are invoiced to end users monthly together with their cellular service charges. “Premium EZ Payment” will become available on July 3rd. More than 30 companies, including Rakuten, and a wide variety of retailers, content providers, and ASPs, are planning to participate in this new service. The service package includes a e-commerce mechanism for bringing products online, made possible through a partnership with eCash Corporation, and a logistics service for companies requiring product delivery to customers, developed in collaboration with Yamato System Development Co. On-line shopping sites registered with the new service will be designated on Ezweb, au’s internet access service. “au de okaimono” (shopping at au), a shopping portal site, will also launch on Ezweb at the same time, to facilitate consumer use of the new payment collection service.

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VIP Preferred Clients

Atlanta-based Global Payments has signed four more casinos for its “VIP Preferred” suite of high-limit check cashing service to bring its total to more than 80. The additions are The Riviera Hotel and Casino, Imperial Palace Hotel and Casino, Cannery Hotel and Casino and the Tuscany Casino. VIP Preferred combines speed and efficiency and also provides the capability of issuing one of the highest check cashing limits in the industry. Cardholders gain fast, hassle free access to cash, while gaming establishments eliminate associated risk by having the payment of their check transactions 100 percent guaranteed.

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FIRST-PASS SSL

NTT DoCoMo is introducing the “FirstPass SSL” client authentication service via the 3G network in conjunction with the launch of new “FOMA” handsets. The new service will provide enterprises and individuals with extra-high security when using DoCoMo “FOMA” phones for mobile Internet transactions, such as on-line shopping, trading, or accessing corporate Intranets. DoCoMo will provide each “FirstPass” user with a digital certificate based on the PKI. The certificate is stored along with other subscriber information in the handset’s removable “FOMA UIM Card.” Enterprises wishing to use “FirstPass” must apply via the MM Service Center or DoCoMo’s Corporate Marketing Department. A one-time application fee for 3,000 yen will be required. Initially, 20 companies are planning to adopt “FirstPass” service in their solutions or products.

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Rate Cut

There is a wide consensus that the Federal Reserve will cut interest rates next week by 25 bps, however, some expect the cut to be as much as 50 bps. The federal funds rate is already sitting at 1.25%, a 45-year low, and could dip to a 60-year plus low next week. The impact of a rate cut next Tuesday on credit card interest rates will be minimal. However, 0% APR intro offers may expand among smaller issuers and existing zero rate offers by major issuers could be extended to longer periods. Most card issuers have instituted floor rates on new cards. Credit card interest rates have been rising over the past year as punitive interest rates are assessed on more accounts.

Average Credit Card Interest Rates
Jan 01: 16.49%
May 01: 15.83%
Jan 02: 14.33%
May 02: 14.60%
Jan 03: 14.81%
May 03: 14.94%

Source: CardTrak ([www.cardtrak.com][1])

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

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VISA PIN 1Q/03

VISA reported that transactions for its PLUS ATM network fell 30% in the first quarter while Interlink transactions rose 32%. VISA has 357,000 PLUS ATMs in the USA which produced 118 million transactions in the first three months of this year. Interlink transaction dollar volume rose 38% during the first quarter to $7.3 billion. VISA handled nearly 210 million Interlink transactions in 1Q/03. At the end of the first quarter, there were 70 million Interlink-branded cards-in-force. VISA has more than one million acceptance locations for Interlink cards in the USA.

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Mexican Swap

Bank of America and Mexico’s Grupo Financerio Santander Serfin have inked a reciprocal ATM access deal. Effective this week, BofA customers will now have free access to 1,770 Santander Serfin ATMs throughout Mexico. In return, Santander Serfin customers will have free access to 13,000 Bank of America ATMs in the USA. 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. Grupo Financerio Santander Serfin is the most profitable and the third largest bank in Mexico.

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