Diners’ Gaines Cited

Diners Club North America president Brenda Gaines has been named one of the “50 Most Powerful Black Executives in America” in the July 22 issue of FORTUNE magazine. Gaines joined Citibank in 1988 and has held a series of senior leadership positions culminating in her current role as president of Diners Club in 1999. Among her achievements as president, Ms. Gaines integrated the Diners Club North American business, broadened Card acceptance beyond traditional T&E channels to include more retail and other types of establishments, and launched two new Cards, including the first Diners Club U.S. based revolving credit card product. Her accomplishments have resulted in Diners Club winning the “Best Frequent Traveler Affinity Charge/Credit Card Program” (Americas) award for the fifth consecutive year.

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Yellowstone VISA

U.S. Bank and the Yellowstone Park Foundation have launched an affinity VISA card. The Yellowstone VISA card is issued by Elan Financial Services, features a picturesque scene of Yellowstone, and is available in a classic and platinum card. More than three million people visit Yellowstone each year. Bozeman, MT-based Yellowstone Park Foundation is a non-profit organization created by a group of concerned citizens, working with the National Park Service, to protect, preserve, and enhance the park. The new card carries no annual fee if used at least once a year, otherwise the fees are $20 for classic and $40 for platinum The intro APR is 5.9% fixed, for six months with the go-to APR of 8.74% to 14.74% depending on credit risk.

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FDC & Chase

First Data has signed a multi-year agreement to produce and mail statements and letters for several retail lines of business within J.P. Morgan Chase, including credit cards, home finance and auto finance. FDC currently partners with Chase through its Chase Merchant Services joint venture. FDC also provides card processing and plastics production for Chase’s credit card business since 1989. First Data serves approximately 2.8 million merchant locations and 1,400 card issuers. At the end of the first quarter, Chase had $48.3 billion in bank credit card outstandings and 17 million active accounts, according to CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]).

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

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Datakey Signs CMS Client

MN-based Datakey announced that a major U.S. bank is deploying its newly released Card Management System, purchasing 3,500 Datakey CMS user licenses and placed an initial order for 1,500 Datakey CIP kits, which include Datakey’s Model 330 cryptographic smart card, CIP client software and a smart card reader. Datakey CMS, announced in late April, is a web-based smart card and digital credential management solution for enterprises—used to issue, manage and support Datakey cryptographic smart cards throughout the organization for identity-based applications.

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Extreme Diners

Diners Club North America has launched an “Extreme Adventures” program for its Carte Blanche cardholders. Between July 8th and September 1st, cardholders can purchase specially created packages for skydiving, hot air ballooning, hang gliding, deep sea fishing, NASCAR driving, or Indy-style racecar driving. The sky diving package includes a 60-second freefall from 14,000 feet in the Chicago area. Activity prices range from $120 to $450 per person. Diners is also providing participating cardholders with a free leather pocket Traveler’s Atlas, according to CardWatch ([www.carddata.com][1]).

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[1]: http://www.cardwatch.com
[2]: /graphic/dinersclub/invitation.jpg

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Dress Barn & ADS

The Dress Barn has renewed its contract with Alliance Data Systems for a private label credit card program for Dress Barn’s 750 store locations nationwide. Under terms of the renewed agreement, Alliance Data will provide services that include account acquisition and activation; receivables funding; card authorization; private label credit card issuance; statement generation; remittance processing; customer service functions; and credit marketing support.

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7-Eleven Banks

NCR has inked a three-year, multi-million-dollar agreement with 7-Eleven stores to deploy Web-enabled “Vcom” kiosks in 1,000 convenience stores later this year. The agreement calls for 7-Eleven to use NCR’s Convenience Connexions solution and includes the purchase of 1,000 NCR Personas 78s, software and a complete set of services and support to expand Vcom, which have been tested in 98 7-Eleven stores in Texas and Florida. NCR’s APTRA open architecture software platform will permit a robust set of automated services in the three-foot-wide, self-service terminal. Through exclusive agreements with its Vcom partners, 7-Eleven currently offers customers ATM transactions, check cashing through Certegy Check Services, and Western Union money order purchases and money transfers. Customers already conduct some 100 million ATM transactions and purchase $4.5 billion in face value of money orders annually at 7-Eleven’s U. S. stores. Other Vcom offerings planned for the initial 1,000-store rollout are telecommunications services through Verizon Communications, Inc., and e-shopping using Cyphermint, Inc.’s secure cash-payment technology, called Pay Cash System, to access select e-commerce products, such as event ticketing, weather reports, lottery results and travel directions. In exchange for 7-Eleven granting strategic partners exclusive rights to offer their products through Vcom kiosks, the service partners pay placement fees, a percentage of the transaction fees and expense reimbursement. 7-Eleven says it has received more than $220 million in placement-fee commitments from its other service partners, most of which are funded as Vcom kiosks are deployed.

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Counseling Fees

A MA-based credit counseling firm launched an attack this morning on counseling fees. Armed with a research report it commissioned from Washington, DC-based Economists Incorporated, Cambridge Credit Counseling said its fees are lower than fees charged by NFCC-related Consumer Credit Counseling Services companies, AICCCA companies, and unaffiliated companies. For the comparison, the Economists report used the example of a client with $16,500 of debt that is paid back over a period of five years. Of the 16 NFCC-related Consumer Credit Counseling Services companies examined, average fees at the end of that five-year period were $1,520. Among the 17 AICCCA companies examined the average fee was $1,867. Unaffiliated companies’ average fees over the five-year period were $3,225. Cambridge Credit said its fees were $1,782 for the example. The report also found that using the same example of $16,500 paid over five years, Cambridge Credit’s total revenues from fees and fair share monies accrued to the company at 9% of client payments were only $3,668. For the NFCC/Consumer Credit Counseling Services companies the average was $3,411; for the AICCCA it was $3,717 and $5,116 for the unaffiliated agencies.

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DAIMLER-CHRYSLER VISA

Stuttgart-based DaimlerChrysler Bank has changed its legal form to a stock corporation, received a full banking license, and has begun offering new products such as deposit-banking services, as well as a new DaimlerChrysler VISA, both with the special rewards program “RoadMiles.” The DaimlerChrysler VISA is the first German credit card with an EMV chip and carries an annual fee of EUR 29. Those who pay their bills with the DaimlerChrysler Card automatically collect “RoadMiles”, which can be redeemed for attractive products and services. Gas purchases even get triple points. The bank will initially target its 4 million customers in Germany for the new products. The new banking products will not be offered at car dealerships, but instead via the Internet and the DaimlerChrysler Bank customer service center by telephone, fax, e-mail, or normal letter. The license for deposit-banking services is also valid for market entry into other European countries (Europapass).

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SYNOVATE

London-based Aegis Research is changing its name to Synovate. By the end of this year all of the Aegis Research companies, in 43 countries, will be re-branded with the new name. In the Americas, Aegis Research companies also include BAIGlobal, Market Facts, Market Facts of Canada, Strategy Research Corporation, Tandem Research Associates, Marketing Strategy & Planning, Motoresearch, MarkTrend, Copernicus, and IMR Research. Its worldwide network consists of international research firms Asia Market Intelligence, Market Facts, Pegram Walters, MEMRB, Demoscopie, Market&More and Research Fact, among others. Designhouse developed the logo and other elements of the Synovate corporate identity. Aegis Group plc is the holding company for Carat, its media strategy, planning and buying business and Synovate.

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ATM Threats

The Electronic Funds Transfer Association has formed a senior-level task force to investigate potential threats to the integrity of the nation’s ATM systems with an initial focus on money laundering and ATM skimming. The task force will hold its inaugural meeting July 23 at the Willard Hotel in Washington, DC and will investigate ways to maintain the safety and security that consumers feel when they use ATM machines. The meeting, open to the public, will feature a presentation by Gregg James, U.S. Secret Service special agent. Also participating will be Noshir Kathok, an analyst and management consultant in the field of electronic payments.

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