Honesty Boxes

The move to add an “Honesty Box” to credit card applications in the United Kingdom is picking up momentum. Prime Minister Tony Blair said last week he backs the campaign to give consumers the ability to make direct comparisons between the credit cards. The “Honesty Boxes” would be clearly presented information panels showing interest rates, charges and other benefits. The Guardian newspaper says the prime minister was responding to calls from Barry Gardiner, MP for Brent North. The Consumer Credit Counselling Service welcomed the prime minister’s support, saying that “finally credit cards are to be treated as a sophisticated product, giving consumers the information they need to choose the right product”.

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Legal Eagles

Legal bills for VISA and MasterCard keep mounting as two new lawsuits were filed in the past four days. VISA is being used over the patent for its payer authentication service (“VbV”) and MasterCard is being sued under antitrust law for merchant fines. The Beard Company and its starpay.com subsidiary and VIMachine Inc. allege that VISA infringed on its “VIMachine” patent, misappropriated starpay’s intellectual property and/or trade secrets, and breached confidentiality agreements. The suit alleges that, after receiving starpay’s technology and ideas, VISA filed a provisional patent application in April of 2000 using information supplied by starpay. Meanwhile, Paycom Billing Services filed a lawsuit that alleges that MasterCard has established monopolistic rules that allow it unreasonable discretion to dominate Internet merchants, and it has exercised this power to illegally impose fines and penalties in the millions of dollars. Former Federal Prosecutors for the US Department of Justice, William Miller and Richard Crane were among those representing Paycom. Paycom says MasterCard has forced the company to change its entire business structure to comply with additional rules, that MasterCard cannot or will not articulate or explain.

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British Airways VISA

Bank One and British Airways have extended their co-branding relationship until March 2009. Bank One took over the BA co-branded credit card program in 1998 after it was dumped by Chase. The “British Airways VISA Signature Card” features no limit to the number of miles earned from purchases and 10,000 bonus miles with the first purchase transaction. The card also offers a complimentary companion ticket when a ticket in business class or higher is purchased with the “BA VISA Signature” card, until March 31, 2004. Cardholders earn one mile for every US$1 in purchases, and two miles for every US$1 of British Airways purchases. The card carries a $75 annual fee. Bank One offers a 4.9% five-month intro rate followed by a variable prime +8.49% APR. Bank One also issues the United Airlines Mileage Plus card, its largest co-branded airline program. (CF Library 5/27/98)

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Retalix 1Q/03

Israel-based Retalix reported first quarter net revenues of $20.7 million, an increase of 27% from 1Q/02. Net income for the quarter was $1.1 million, compared to a net income of $819,000, in the first quarter of last year. North America was the primary growth driver, accounting for 64% of total revenues in the first quarter. In February, the company announced that Publix Super Markets intends to deploy Retalix “StoreLine” as its next-generation POS solution across 747 stores in five states. Publix is renowned as a premier operational company in the grocery industry and this win underlines our competitive strength at a point when most Tier One chains are actively evaluating their next-generation software platform. “StoreLine” was also chosen during the first quarter by an additional 200-store grocery chain in the USA. In the convenience store sector, the company announced that ALON USA, representing 171 corporate-owned 7-Eleven sites and an additional 1,500 FINA brand locations, has contracted with us to deploy Retalix “StorePoint.”

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HSBC & BT

HSBC has won a five-year contract to provide VISA corporate cards to BT employees worldwide. BT issued a request for proposal to major corporate card issuers in August 2002. The contract covers BT users predominantly in the UK, but also in Asia-Pacific, Europe, and the USA. Employing over 100,000 people, BT is one of the world’s leading providers of telecommunications services and one of the largest private sector companies in Europe. The BT global corporate card program is the largest in the UK and Europe, with over 35,000 corporate cards in issue, and represents an annual spend of over $160 million.

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VF Top-Up

UK-based MULTePAY has chosen the VeriFone’s “Omni 3750” as the platform to deliver its electronic top-up facilities to the UK’s independent retailers. Under terms of the deal, VeriFone will supply 2000 “Omni 3750” terminals running “APACS40” software on which MULTePAY will develop the E-top-up facility, using the “Alphyra” host system. The first units are due to be deployed in stores from May, offering lucrative new revenue streams for retailers alongside standard credit and debit card processing, including electronic top-up for pre-paid mobile phones. The solution will be available to UK retailers through Food Brokers Ltd.,

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