New York City metro residents will begin receiving Shell gas cards and in some cases, a “Shell MasterCard,” to replace their Texaco cards. More than 100 Texaco stations throughout the market will convert to the Shell brand. As part of the conversion program, more than 240,000 Texaco credit card holders in the area will receive Shell credit cards. The conversion is expected to be completed by year end. Shell initiated the conversion of Texaco stations following Chevron’s merger with Texaco.Details
VISA USA is launching a new TV commercial next week featuring the verbal jousting between Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter and George Steinbrenner. The “George and Derek” spot plays off the highly publicized “feud” between Jeter and Steinbrenner. This “war of words” reached national headlines after Steinbrenner made critical comments during the offseason about his shortstop’s commitment to the team after being spotted out late at restaurants and parties throughout New York City. The spot opens with Steinbrenner having a heart-to-heart with Jeter, wondering how he could possibly afford to keep up with his baseball schedule and dine, dance and party seven nights a week. As an answer, Derek simply pulls out his VISA card. What follows is a rapid-fire tour through some of New York’s most exciting hotspots, ending with George and Derek apparently putting their differences behind them while dancing together in a nightclub conga line. The spot is through BBDO New York with Michael Karbelnikoff as Director and HKM producing.Details
Fiserv Credit Processing Services, a unit of Fiserv Inc., announced two major achievements: surpassing more than 10 million customer accounts on file, and a major capital investment in state-of-the-art IBM disk storage technology. “We’re not just excited that we’ve passed the 10 million account mark,” said Steve Baker, Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer. “We’re excited because these 10 million accounts represent a significant growth rate in the last 12 months. And, what’s even more encouraging, these aren’t simple mono-line accounts. They’re made up of a variety of portfolio types, including traditional bankcard, private label, commercial and installment loans.”
Fiserv Credit Processing Services manages accounts receivable processing for major credit issuers, including John Deere Credit and Shoppers Charge Accounts.
The announcement is particularly noteworthy because all 10 million accounts are processed on a single software platform – VisionPlusÂ®, which Fiserv Credit Processing Services uses as the core component of The PLUS(TM) System solution, Baker said. In addition, he said Fiserv Credit Processing Services has made a significant investment in IBM technology in an effort to effectively manage continued growth opportunities.
Baker credited the growth of Fiserv Credit Processing Services during the last 12 months to the organization’s emphasis on providing an end-to-end credit management solution to the financial services industry. Features of the Fiserv Credit Processing Services offering include target marketing, credit decisioning, account acquisition, account processing, fulfillment, risk management and management information for decision support across the entire value chain.
“Our sole focus is on how we can improve services to our large and diverse client base,” he said. “That is why the investments we made with IBM were so critical in supporting Fiserv Credit Processing Services to successfully pass the 10 million account mark. It gives us the ability to manage any type of credit solution or size portfolio a client wishes to issue.” After careful analysis of available technology, Fiserv Credit Processing Services chose the IBM TotalStorage(TM) Enterprise Storage Server (codenamed Shark) to support The PLUS System(TM). Using redundant hardware with scalability to 27.9 terabytes of physical capacity, it is designed to provide ultra high availability. The technology also allows for non-disruptive upgrades and has a “snap-in” design to easily add performance, capacity and connectivity upgrades, while maintaining 24/7 productivity. ESS also increases performance, decreases response times, and provides for greater throughput.
“With more than 10 million customer accounts and growing, Fiserv Credit Processing Services understands the need for an integrated storage computing infrastructure that can help it respond flexibly to expanding customer demands,” said Tom Simonson, Vice President of Storage Sales for the IBM Systems Group. “IBM is providing this infrastructure that can help Fiserv Credit Processing Services improve customer service by dynamically meeting new demands and easing overall data management.”
Fiserv Credit Processing Services also installed the IBM TotalStorage Enterprise Tape Library and Virtual Tape Server technologies designed with the flexibility to allow incremental growth.
“This combination of technology, along with our industry-leading attention to customer service, gives us a tremendous competitive advantage in providing solutions that are flexible, reliable and delivery-focused,” Baker said. “We’re looking at supporting a very diverse product suite of portfolios and extremely large numbers of accounts on the same operating platform.”
Fiserv, Inc. (Nasdaq: FISV) provides industry leading information management systems and services to the financial industry, including transaction processing, outsourcing, business process outsourcing and software and systems solutions. The company serves more than 13,000 clients worldwide, including banks, broker-dealers, credit unions, financial planners/investment advisers, insurance companies and agents, self-insured employers, lenders and savings institutions. Headquartered in Brookfield, Wisconsin, Fiserv reported $2.3 billion in processing and services revenues for 2002. Fiserv can be found on the Internet at [www.fiserv.com].
The summer travel season is here, and more small business owners are planning to take time off, according to the OPEN Small Business Network 2003 Semi-Annual Monitor from American Express.
In all, 66% of business owners are planning summer vacations of at least a week this year, an increase of 15% over 2002. Three-quarters (74%) of business owners in the South cite summertime travel plans, followed by business owners in the West (67%), Northeast (66%) and North Central (53%). Overall, 31% say they try to link vacations with business trips to save time and money.
While more business owners plan to get away this summer, it also appears most will not be able to escape completely. Among business owners with summer vacation plans, 73% anticipate grappling with business worries while they travel.
The top business worry among business owners with summer vacation plans is that an important client or customer will not receive appropriate service (24%); followed by concerns over who will manage the business while they are away and missed opportunities to land new business (tied, 18%); staff judgment calls (15%); equipment or operational breakdowns (12%) and the security of their facilities, offices or stores (8%).
“Business owners are often reluctant to take vacations because they fear the company will suffer if they are not minding it. The irony is that vacations can be a long-term investment in the success of the business by helping owners re-charge and return to work invigorated,” said Alice Bredin, Small Business Advisor for OPEN: The Small Business Network from American Express. “Since business owners don’t always have the luxury of time, it is important for them to do some careful planning to ensure they can create the time they need to get away.”
Vacation Plans Vary by Size of Business
According to the OPEN Small Business Network 2003 Semi-Annual Monitor, annual revenues and business tenure appear to drive the greatest differences in vacation plans and business concerns while traveling. For example, only 56% of businesses with under $200,000 in annual revenues plan to vacation this summer, compared to 74% of their larger counterparts.
In addition, smaller businesses with summertime vacation plans are nearly twice more likely than larger companies to be worried that an important customer won’t receive the service they are used to (34% vs. 20%) and that they will miss an important new business opportunity (26% vs. 13%). Larger companies with vacation plans report being more worried about the operational side of their businesses, including who will manage their companies while they are away (23% vs. 13% for smaller companies) and staff judgment calls (20% vs. 7% for smaller companies).
Companies in business for five or fewer years are less likely than more tenured companies to have vacation plans this summer (59% vs. 69% for companies in business for six or more years). In addition, less tenured companies were also more likely than older businesses to be worried that an important client would not receive the appropriate type of service (37% vs. 21%); that they would miss a new business opportunity (25% vs. 16%); who will manage their business while they’re away (23% vs. 17%) and staff judgment calls (24% vs. 12%).
Minority business owners (66%) and women business owners (64%) are just as likely as the average business owner (66%) to report vacation plans of at least a week this summer. Among those with vacation plans this summer, minority business owners are most likely to be worried about:
— Missing new business opportunities (33% vs. 19% for women business owners and 18% overall);
— An important client not receiving appropriate level of service (30% vs. 28% for women business owners and 24% overall) and
— Staff judgment calls (25% vs. 10% for women business owners and 15% overall)
Make Vacationing Easier
To assist business owners in planning summer vacations, Alice Bredin, the OPEN Network Small Business Advisor offers the following tips:
— Schedule a vacation well ahead of time. Especially important for those who think there is never a “right time” to get away, putting a vacation on the calendar early will enable you to appropriately prepare for it. This includes preparing your staff to cover while you’re away.
— Consider using a professional to handle your travel plans. Working with a travel counselor to book your trip can save you time and money and make planning a vacation easier. Travel professionals can find good values and can also help if plans go awry.
— Schedule breaks during business downtimes. Consider planning some time away this summer when your business may be slowest – or the least hectic. If your business is seasonal, consider vacationing during the off-season.
— Commit yourself financially to your vacation. Consider putting a deposit on a rental house or a trip. Committing to take that time off and setting up financial consequences if you back out (lost deposits, cancellation penalties, etc), can help ensure you actually take the vacation.
— Budget your workload. Once you decide how long you’ll be away, figure out exactly what needs to be done before you leave and build in this extra work into the days or weeks leading up to your vacation. By leaving with a “clean plate,” you can reduce your anxiety about leaving the office and give yourself a greater chance of relaxing.
— If you must work on vacation, do it in brief spurts. Ideally, you don’t want to take work with you on vacation, although working on vacation is better than no vacation at all. If you must work, do it in short spurts, perhaps in the early morning, so you can quickly get back to the business of relaxing.
For more tips on planning vacations, business owners can visit [www.open.americanexpress.com] and click on the “Inform Your Decisions” link.
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. The survey was conducted via telephone by International Communications Research (ICR) from March 10-March 24, 2003. The poll has a margin of error of +/- 3.5%.
About OPEN: The Small Business Network from American Express
OPEN: The Small Business Network is the dedicated division of American Express (NYSE:AXP) that offers small business owners a wide range of tools, services and savings designed to meet their evolving needs, including charge and credit cards, convenient access to working capital and credit information, enhanced online account management capabilities and savings on business services from an enhanced lineup of partners. To obtain more information about the OPEN Network, visit OPEN.americanexpress.com or call 1-800-NOW-OPEN to apply for a card or loan.
American Express Company is a diversified worldwide travel, financial and network services company founded in 1850. It is a world leader in charge and credit cards, Travelers Cheques, travel, financial planning, business services, insurance and international banking.
As the recent off-line or signature debit card lawsuit settlement winds its way toward approval, the new online or PIN debit card war has begun. MasterCard announced this morning it will now permit a waiver of ATM surcharges on its 350,000 ATM “Cirrus” network in the USA, thus becoming the first national ATM network to facilitate formation of a national surcharge-free ATM alliance. MasterCard says its research indicates that SFAs are attractive to financial institutions as a means to expand DDA accessibility for ATM/Debit cardholders beyond the localized boundaries of a singular proprietary ATM network. Today’s news comes on the heels of other MasterCard debit enhancements, recently announced. Stand-in processing for “Maestro” PIN-based POS transactions goes into effect October 1, 2003. Maestro acquirers can also now designate non-member entities such as merchants to connect directly to the “MasterCard Debit Switch.” Additionally, issuers and acquirers now have the option of specifying “Maestro” and “Cirrus” as the network of choice for transaction routing. Earlier this year, MasterCard’s U.S. Board approved an increase to the “Maestro” interchange rate structure which will go into effect July 1st. The rate will apply to domestic transactions. MasterCard has added four new rate categories within the “Maestro” structure: a supermarket/warehouse rate; a convenience rate category (for small ticket transactions such as those in convenience stores, gas stations, fast food restaurants and movie theaters), a category for all other merchants, and a cash back rate. Globally, “Maestro” is accepted for purchases at more than 7.3 million merchant terminals in 93 countries and territories, at 821,766 MasterCard/Maestro/Cirrus ATMs around the world and has 505 million cardholders worldwide. (CF Library 4/3/03)Details
With MasterCard’s contactless “PayPass” U.S. pilot well underway and expanding, VISA announced yesterday a major alliance with Royal Philips Electronics to promote and develop the application of contactless chip technology for payment transactions. VISA has been active in Asia with contactless payment pilots and has been especially active in the development of infrared payment technologies. The collaboration is part of VISA’s “U-Commerce” initiative enabling payment transactions anywhere, anytime and through any device. Philips says its vision of the future is a world connected in which everyone can always securely access multi-rich information, entertainment and services. Under the MOU between VISA and Philips, both firms are looking to identify joint business partners, such as hardware manufacturers and content providers, and to investigate developing business and technical models.Details
Government agencies now have more options when it comes to improving customer service operations due to a new arrangement between First Data Corp. subsidiary company, GovConnect, a leader in providing digital service delivery solutions, and First Data Resources, the world’s leading-provider of transaction processing services.
The new arrangement brings a full spectrum of modular, scalable business process services to deliver cost-effective support for government agencies of all sizes. By drawing on the infrastructure of First Data, GovConnect can help government agencies capitalize more fully on secure, scalable services to modernize service offerings, including benefit distribution, tax filing and payment, claims and compliance processing, database management, electronic funds transfer programs, plastic card services, and enterprise-wide information management strategies.
In addition, First Data can provide business process outsourcing options for governments that include advanced electronic funds transfer services; print and mail services capable of handling millions of pieces of mail daily; customer contact services capable of handling millions of calls weekly; and automated reporting and data delivery systems that eliminate manual reconciliation and save valuable resources.
Since its acquisition by eONE Global in the second quarter of 2002, GovConnect has implemented First Data capabilities on precedent setting government projects. GovConnect, in partnership with Western Union, another subsidiary of First Data, has enabled the acceptance of walk up child support payments. GovConnect is also leveraging the secure, scalable First Data customer contact capabilities in delivering consumer protection No-Call strategies. The First Data customer contact services in Daytona Beach, Fla., are currently in use to provide information for both consumers and telemarketers in the No-Call program.
“First Data offers unparalleled infrastructure, a multitude of resources and proven reliability to enhance and modernize government service strategies,” according to Kim Bishop, senior vice president at First Data. “We are pleased to be able to extend the reach of First Data capabilities with the outstanding products and services already provided by GovConnect.”
“Our affiliation with First Data gives our government clients an extremely high level of security to handle the most vital, large-scale government programs and processes. We are extremely pleased to offer services that integrate people and technology that improve government service delivery,” said Jeff Ficke, senior vice president of GovConnect.
GovConnect has been facilitating government interaction with individuals and businesses more than 20 years. The company has provided innovative, state-of-the-art technology solutions in 45 states.
GovConnect () is a leading provider of electronic service delivery solutions for government agencies from strategy to implementation. GovConnect has helped agencies across the United States automate millions of transactions that result in the electronic transfer of trillions of dollars in revenue annually. Services from GovConnect include service modernization through the effective deployment of technology, professional services from experienced public sector consultants, payment processing strategies and business process outsourcing services to support government operations. GovConnect is based in Cincinnati, Ohio, and is a subsidiary of govONE Solutions, LP. govONE Solutions is an operating company of an emerging payments leader, eONE Global, LP (), a leader in the emerging payment technologies and systems spanning the government, mobile and enterprise marketplaces, and majority-owned by First Data Corp.
About First Data
First Data Corp., with global headquarters in Denver, helps power the global economy. As a leader in electronic commerce and payment services, First Data serves approximately 3 million merchant locations, 1,400 card issuers and millions of consumers, making it easy, fast and secure for people and businesses to buy goods and services using virtually any form of payment. With 29,000 employees worldwide, the company provides credit, debit, smart card and stored-value card issuing and merchant transaction processing services; Internet commerce solutions; money transfer services; money orders; and check processing and verification services throughout the United States. First Data also offers a variety of payment services in the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Japan, Mexico, Spain, the Netherlands, the Middle East and Germany. Its Western Union and Orlandi Valuta money transfer networks include a total of approximately 159,000 Agent locations in more than 195 countries and territories. For more information, please visit the company’s Web site at .Details
Virgin Mobile USA, LLC announced that it has expanded its Marketing team with the appointment of three senior marketing executives. Greg Castronuovo joins as vice president, Promotion and Brand Activation, Susan Collins as vice president, Consumer Marketing and Bob Stohrer as vice president, Brand and Communications. They join Craig Gosselin, vice president, Sales and Distribution, to round out the marketing and sales team.
“Virgin Mobile USA has a simple goal — to provide an outstanding wireless experience to its consumers. To achieve this, we have assembled a marketing and brand team that has both a clear vision of consumer marketing, and an obsession with providing an amazing brand experience for consumers,” said Howard Handler, chief marketing officer of Virgin Mobile USA. “Greg, Susan and Bob each bring a wealth of expertise to an already strong team, and we’re pleased to welcome them to Virgin Mobile USA.”
— Greg Castronuovo, vice president, Promotion and Brand Activation, will direct all promotional activities and help drive brand-related initiatives. Prior to joining Virgin Mobile USA, Castronuovo served as vice president, Marketing for World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), where he introduced new programming such as Smackdown! on UPN and a range of domestic and international pay-per-view events. Before that, Castronuovo was vice president, National Promotions, for FOX. In this role, he orchestrated promotional campaigns for Billboard Music Awards, 90210, Party of Five and The Teen Choice Awards. He began his career at NBC where he spent nine years working across the entertainment, sports and news divisions.
— Susan Collins, vice president, Consumer Marketing, will play a lynchpin role at Virgin Mobile USA that will include life cycle management, performance management, competitive tracking and managing Virgin Mobile’s products. Most recently, Collins served as senior vice president, Marketing and Advertising at DIRECTV. She spent 10 years there and played an integral role in building the company and developing the consumer brand that ultimately achieved over 80 percent consumer awareness. Prior to that, she was director of Marketing for Viewers Choice, where she implemented the first national pay-per-view “Nevers” campaign. Collins began her career at Manhattan Cable.
— Bob Stohrer, vice president, Brand and Communications, is charged with advancing the Virgin Mobile brand in the US. Previously, he served as vice president and creative director at the National Football League (NFL), where he managed all aspects of the League’s brand communications including advertising, design and promotion. Stohrer also played a major role in some of the League’s most memorable creative efforts including the development of the “Feel the Power” brand campaign and “Play Football” youth effort, the design of the team identity and game uniforms for the Houston Texans, as well as the brand and advertising launch of NFL.com. During the past two years, Bob managed his own brand consulting and creative shop which allowed him to continue work for the NFL, as well as brands like SoBe Beverages, Island Def Jam Music and Cleveland Golf.
— Craig Gosselin, vice president, Sales and Distribution, leads the team responsible for growing and managing Virgin Mobile USA’s distribution channels. Previously, he was a senior vice president at American Express, where he led a 1,000-person sales and service team and was also responsible for Internet service strategy, new account development and product development. Prior to that, Gosselin was a managing director with Deutsche Bank, where he built and led the worldwide Client Service Organization that supported the Securities Services division. Gosselin also spent 12 years at AT&T where he held multiple leadership roles, including leading large sales organizations, service organizations and product management teams.
About Virgin Mobile USA, LLC:
Virgin Mobile USA, LLC is the first U.S. wireless service designed exclusively around the needs of the youth market. Since its national launch in July 2002, Virgin Mobile has quickly established itself as one of the fastest growing wireless players in the U.S.
Virgin Mobile USA offers a flexible pay-as-you-go price plan with no contracts to sign and no fine print. Virgin Mobile customers get all the essentials, including long distance, voicemail, caller ID, call waiting, text messaging and directory assistance. All customers have access to VirginXtras — a host of music, entertainment, group messaging and fun lifestyle features that add flair and personality to the mobile experience. Virgin Mobile also has a strategic partnership with MTV Networks that includes exclusive content from MTV and VH1 and additional content from Nickelodeon and CMT.
A joint venture between Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group and Sprint, which operates the largest all-digital, all-PCS nationwide wireless network, Virgin Mobile USA is the first mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) in the US. Virgin Mobile phones and top-up cards are available at Best Buy, Circuit City, Media Play, Sam Goody, Target Stores and Virgin Megastores. Top-Up cards are also available at Circle K and 7-Eleven stores. Virgin Mobile wireless products and services are available 24/7 on the Web at or through Virgin Mobile Central Intelligence at 1-888-322-1122.Details
UBS AG has signed a deal to implement a cost saving solution for ATM cash replenishment. Under terms of the deal, NCR will have overall responsibility for the project and has partnered with Transoft International to implement and maintain Transoft’s “OptiCash” and “OptiNet” software. UBS is looking to reduce cash holdings by 25%. The bank has 1,300 ATMs in the country.Details
The U.S. Supreme Court decided yesterday not to hear the case involving local bans on ATM fees. In 1999, San Francisco and the Santa Monica City Council enacted laws banning ATM fees charged by bank’s to non-customers. Last October 2002, a U.S. appeals court ruled against the cities, saying that federal law preempt local laws in most banking issues. Reportedly, officials in both cities were not surprised by yesterday’s decision.Details
Toronto-based Hudson’s Bay Company reported that its financial division posted a 22% gain in first quarter credit card outstandings to $478 million. HBC says the increase in credit card receivables reflects the higher credit card blend at the Bay and Zellers stores and additional third party volumes. As of April 30th, there were 1.4 million active Bay credit card accounts and 1.4 million active Zellers credit card accounts. The current and 30 days past due balance represented 94.5% of the receivable portfolio, compared to 94.9% at April 30, 2002. During the first quarter, the number of charge-off accounts decreased by 8%. Of the dollars charged-off, the value of bankrupt accounts increased from last year by $1.7 million. Net bad debt expense in 1Q/03 of $22.2 million was $4.6 million higher than 1Q/02.Details
A new study has found that bankruptcies as a percentage of credit card charge-off dollars increased to 32% last year compared to 29% in the previous year. BenchMark Consulting International and the Consumer Bankers Association also found that overdraft protection had the highest dollar delinquency rate, at 2.8%, compared to the lowest, home equity lines of credit, at 0.7%. The study encompasses consumer loan and credit card portfolios. Last year, delinquencies were the highest they had been in the past ten study periods at 1.86%. BCI and CBA said this year’s study unveils the 1.34% delinquency rate as the lowest it’s been since 1999.Details