The Giving Card

California-based Cybertel has named the former CEO of Citibank SD as Director- Banking Relations, and Lawrence Abler as President. The company is planning to launch an affinity card product that allows credit cardholders of all major brands, who are members of such groups as college Alumni Associations, to contribute to their group by using their credit cards at selected merchants and receive a tax deduction for a part of their purchases. No launched date has been set for “The Giving Card.” There are currently 40 million cardholders from college Alumni and other affinity groups in the USA.


Spiegel Cards

Less than a week after pulling the plug on its bank credit card portfolio, Spiegel yesterday stopped accepting its own retail cards at the company’s Eddie Bauer, Newport News, and Spiegel Catalog subsidiaries. The company also indicated it may be headed to bankruptcy. On Tuesday, The Spiegel Group announced that its First Consumers National Bank subsidiary notified the trustees for all six of its credit card-backed securitizations that an early amortization event had occurred. Due to the “Pay Out Event” realized on the private-label series, FCNB is no longer reimbursing the merchant companies (Eddie Bauer, Spiegel Catalog and Newport News) for charges made with the private-label credit cards issued by FCNB. Therefore, the merchant companies are no longer honoring the private-label credit cards. The FCNB retail credit card portfolio has $2.3 billion in receivables. Spiegel says the merchant companies have begun issuing private-label credit cards directly rather than through FCNB and may pursue a third-party service provider. Nearly 75% of Spiegel Catalog sales are made on its private label card, while 60% of Newport News sales and 20% of Eddie Bauer sales are made on their respective cards. Spiegel was sued Friday by the SEC for not providing full and timely disclosure of its financial problems. (CF Library 2/25/03; 3/7/03; 3/11/03)


Upromise Grocery

The Upromise Grocery program has more than doubled in size in its first nine months, from 12 to 26 manufacturers. Upromise, a college savings program, has registered more than 3 million grocery and drug loyalty cards for its members to-date. Under the Upromise Grocery program, participating brands contribute three to five percent of each participating products’ purchase price into a member’s Upromise account. Yesterday, the company added products from Beech-Nut, Fujifilm, Del Monte, Proctor & Gamble, and Hershey to its roster. In October, 2001, Citibank launched the “Citi Upromise Platinum Select MasterCard.” Under the Upromise program, families can multiply Upromise college contributions by building their own savings network of parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and friends, all directing their contributions to a child’s account. The Upromise service also offers the option of investing the contributions in a “529” college savings plan. (CF Library 4/25/01; 10/24/01)


Smart Card PCs

Wave Systems Corp. will demonstrate the industry’s most comprehensive suite of consumer financial services for home computing and the Internet on Packard Bell PCs at the NEC IT Pavilion at the CeBIT 2003 trade show March 12-19 in Hannover. Wave Systems Corp is a leader in delivering trusted computing Web-based applications and services with advanced products, infrastructure and solutions across multiple trusted platforms.


Cards 4Q/02

There are now 610 million bank credit cards and 175 million signature-based debit cards in the USA. MasterCard’s credit card portfolio grew 15% in the last three months of 2002, compared to the fourth quarter of 2001. VISA’s credit card portfolio was flat during the same period, however, VISA’s debit card portfolio grew by 11% in 4Q/02. Overall, bank credit cards grew 6% last year.

U.S. Credit Cards-in-Force by Brand

4Q/02 Change
VISA 258.4m (NC)
MasterCard 266.9m (+14.9%)
American Express 35.1m (+1.4%)
Discover 50.0m (-0.6%)
TOTAL: 610.4m (+6.0%)

Source: CardData ([][1])




Banco Cooperativo has signed a deal for MBNA Espana to provide credit card products and services to
its customers. Initially, MBNA Espana will offer the “Grupo Caja Real” credit card to the more than two
million customers of 18 of Banco Cooperativo’s member banks,
who, among them, have more than 1,270 branches throughout Spain, including those in such key markets as
Seville and Zaragoza. Banco Cooperativo is a co-operative of 75 regional banks throughout Spain. MBNA Espana
also markets its credit card products under its own brand and
through affinity partners. Recent partnerships in Spain include Celta de Vigo CF, Elche CF, Federacion
Espanola de Atletismo, Colegio Oficial de Pilotos de Aviacion Comercial, and Associacion Mundial de
Educadores Infantiles.


Concord Sale?

Concord EFS stock sank nearly 20% yesterday after rumors swirled that the company was looking for a buyer. A Bloomberg news report said that Concord has hired Goldman Sachs to find a buyer at a potential price of $6 billion. The rumors follow speculation that the electronic transaction-processing company has run into problems signing key “STAR” contracts with banks such as Bank One, Wells Fargo, Wachovia, and National City. Last month, Concord acknowledged it faces intensifying competition in renewing bank contracts which has increased price compression and raised the cost of renewing contracts. Bloomberg speculated that potential buyers of Concord would include First Data, TSYS, ADP, EDS, and VISA. VISA has been aggressively bidding against Concord in some major contract renewals. For the fourth quarter, Concord EFS reported that net income was flat at $89 million while fourth quarter revenues increased 28% over 4Q/01. Concord says it expects that diluted earnings per share will be in the range of $0.75 to $0.79 in 2003, instead of the previous guidance of $0.84 to $0.88 per share. Concord also announced in February that Dan Palmer and Bond Isaacson would share CEO duties. Edward Labry, who was expected to become CEO, remains a director and president. (CF Library 2/13/03; 2/19/03)



Western Canada-based restaurant and foodservice provider Spectra Group has deployed Ernex Marketing
Technologies’ “Promotional Tool Kit” to enhance its electronic gift card program. The “S-Card” program
replaces traditional, paper-based gift certificates that were previously issued at the twenty-five Spectra
Group restaurant locations. By selecting Ernex’s E-Gift card solution, Spectra Group can now offer their
customers additional incentives, special offers and promotions at the point-of-sale, simply by using their
S-Card for payment. Ernex’s Custom Messaging promotion recognizes all activation and reload transactions
during the campaign period and prints the unique reward message directly on the customer’s receipt – in
real-time, at the point-of-sale. Other Ernex promotions that can be used in conjunction with a standard gift
card program include custom coupons that can be tracked and validated upon redemption, and “Swipe ‘N Win”
sweepstakes to add customer excitement to the program.


Billserv Sale

Billserv confirmed Monday it has retained the investment banking firm of Stifel, Nicolaus & Company as financial advisor to pursue a sale, merger or similar strategic transaction. The company says revenues in the EBPP market has not been sufficient to expand Billserv beyond its current state. Billserv has more than 120 clients representing over 3.1 billion annualized paper bills and a payment stream projected to top $1.5 billion in 2003.



Bobcards is lowering its monthly finance charge from 2.5%- 3.0% to 2.25%,
effective April 1st. Bobcards is also lowering its monthly minimum payment
from 10% to 5%. Bobcards, a subsidiary of Bank of Baroda, issues the “Paras
International MasterCard,” “Paras Electronic MasterCard,” “Silver VISA,”
“Exclusive MasterCard,” “Bharat Premium VISA,” “Gold VISA,” and, “Global
VISA” cards. Bobcards currently has six million cardholders.


Diebold Opteva

Diebold unveiled a new line of ATMs this morning offering a wide range of customization features. The new “Opteva” line is also the only ATM line in the industry that support both text-to-speech and .wav files. The new four core units include the “Opteva 760” (advanced function, through-the-wall walk-up ATM); “Opteva 720” (advanced function, lobby ATM); “Opteva 560” (through-the-wall, walk-up cash dispenser); and, the “Opteva 520 (lobby cash dispenser). One feature that is exclusive to Diebold’s “Opteva” family is the USB 2.0 architecture. The “Opteva” line also features advanced security and fraud prevention mechanisms offered only by Diebold, including a fraud resistant dispenser and card reader as well as a Triple DES-compliant encrypted PIN-pad.