VACATION VOLUME

British travelers will make about 40 million holiday visits abroad this year and spend close to £18 billion. The number of overseas visits and the level of holiday spending has been steadily increasing over the last 20 years, from less than 15 million holidays in 1983 with under £3 billion spent. The “Switch/Maestro” card is reminding its 23 million cardholders that they can use their card in over 890,000 cash machines and at over 7.8 million retailers worldwide. The “Maestro” logo has traditionally appeared on the back of “Switch” cards, but is starting to move to the front following an agreement between “Switch” and “MasterCard” to replace “Switch” with the “Maestro” global debit brand over the next few years.

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Branded Cash ATMs

FL-based Global Axcess and its Nationwide Money Services subsidiary have signed three more financial institutions for its “Branded Cash” ATM service to bring its total branded ATMs in operation to more than 300. The Program welcomes the Carolina Collegiate Federal Credit Union, the 1st Bank of Tennessee, and Community South Bank. The “Branded Cash Program” is designed to provide turnkey, economical ATM solutions to financial institutions. A total of four branded ATM sites will be initially deployed in geographic areas serving the customers of these institutions.

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Opteva 740

Diebold is expanding its “Opteva” line of ATMs next week with the introduction of a new through-the-wall, drive-up unit. The new “Opteva 740” is the first drive-up ATM to offer a two-color graphical receipt printer with high-resolution graphic printing capabilities. The new ATM can also be upgraded with full deposit automation functions. It is powered by “Agilis,” Diebold’s open-standard, cross-vendor software platform, and is also supported by Diebold “Premier Services.” It also employs “USB 2.0” architecture which is an exclusive feature of the “Opteva” line. Diebold has installed more than half of all bank-owned ATMs within the USA.

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Greenland Judgement

Greenland Corporation has won a $4 million judgement against Intelli-Corp and IntelliGroup for fraudulently entering into a private placement transaction to fund Greenland. The amount was comprimised of an award of $2,950,640.02 for compensatory damages and an award of $1,000,000.00 for punitive damages. The Court found, by clear and convincing evidence that Defendants acted maliciously and with the intent to defraud Plaintiff Greenland Corporation when they entered into a private placement transaction to fund Greenland Corporation.

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ECHO Hires Shankar

Electronic Clearing House has hired Sharat Shankar, former VP at First Data’s TeleCheck International subsidiary, as VP of Risk Management and Business Intelligence, a new position on the Executive Committee. Shankar was responsible for business analytics, operations support and risk management on a multi-billion dollar transaction portfolio while he was with TeleCheck. An industry expert in risk management, Mr. Shankar brings nearly a decade of diverse functional experience in marketing, operations, customer retention, financial analysis and risk management to ECHO. ECHO provides a complete solution to the payment processing needs of merchants, banks and collection agencies.

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Club Rewards

Diners Club is hiking its late fee and is making its “Club Rewards” points subject to forfeiture for delinquent cardholders. Effective with the July billing cycle, cardholders will forfeit points if they fail to make the minimum payment within two billing cycles of the statement date. Diners will reinstate the forfeited “Club Reward” points if the cardholder brings their account current and pays a $15 fee for each billing period of points missed. The 55-62 day grace period is a standard feature on the Citigroup’s charge card product. Cardholders who fail to pay the minimum payment due by the two-month cut-off date, will also be assessed a $30 late fee plus 2.5% per month on the unpaid portion. The change in the late charge from $20 to $30 will be effective next month. Diners Club’s new point forfeiture policy is not unique in the industry. American Express also imprisons or cancels “Membership Rewards” points for delinquent cardholders. Other popular reward programs such as “Citibank American Airlines AAdvantage” and Bank One’s “United Airlines Mileage Plus” have similar penalties for late paying cardholders.

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[1]: http://www.cardweb.com/images/d/dinersclub/clubterms.jpg

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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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