Single Source/CardReady

Los Angeles-based Single Source Financial Services Corporation reported a $290,000 loss for the quarter ending April 30th, and is preparing to finalize its acquisition of CardReady International, a bankcard processsor, on Sept 1st. Reportedly, the decrease in reported revenues was primarily due to the termination of a relationship with a former employee and revenues do not include the results of CardReady’s operations. After the acquisition, the company projects revenues for first quarter of fiscal 2003 to be approximately $1.8 million, with a net profit before tax of approximately $600,000.

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FDC & ECG

First Data has finalized its purchase of E Commerce Group Products Inc., an electronic bill payment company based in New York, which will operate as part of the Western Union family of businesses. The addition of ECG and its Speedpay service complements existing bill payment services within Western Union’s Commercial Services division will allow Western Union to expand into new market segments.

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Card Bond Pulse

The unexpected decline in economic conditions could exacerbate pressure on the credit card bonds as charge-offs may continue to grow through 2002. Currently, “prime” credit card asset-backed securities are benefiting from healthy levels of excess spread even though charge-offs have risen consistently for more than a year. However, credit deterioration and regulatory concerns have heightened concern within the sub-prime sector as there are few signs of relief evident, according to Fitch Ratings. Fitch’s charge-off index for May declined 21bps to 6.41% from the month earlier, yet increased against May 2001’s 6.04%. Fitch’s delinquency index declined 19 bps from April’s level to 3.29%, an improvement over May 2001 levels that snapped a 28-month string of year-over-year increases. Monthly payment rates slipped to 15.58% for May, versus 16.25% for April, and 15.59% one year ago.

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S2 Nabs Hollis

S2 Systems announced the addition of Donald Hollis, president of DRH Strategic Consulting, to its board of directors. Mr. Hollis brings to S2 Systems over 42 years of industry leadership in the areas of banking and technology. He is now president of DRH Strategic Consulting, Inc. As president of DRH Strategic Consulting, Hollis assists clients in developing strategies for leveraging technology and quality practices to improve payments related transaction processing products as well as finding appropriate acquisitions. His clients have included NCR, Tandem, Unisys, Cash Station, First National Bank of Chicago, S.W.I.F.T., Edify Corporation, SAIC, and others.

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Late Fees

The increase in credit card late payment fees slowed in May, as most of the issuers raising such fees had an effective date of April 1st. Since the first of this year, late payment fees among issuers with at least $100 million in outstandings, jumped from $28.29 to $29.88, according to CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]). During May, late fees inched up by 4 cents on average. Many top issuers this year have moved late payment fees to $35 for balances of more than $1,000, and tiered down the fee for smaller balances. Providian, the nation’s second largest sub-prime card issuer, recently raised late fees to $35 for balances over $200. The issuer does not charge a late fee for lower balances. Providian also eliminated its over-limit fee for cardholders exceeding the balance by less than 2%. A $35 over-limit fee applies for cardholders exceeding their credit line by 2%, according to CardWatch ([www.cardwatch.com][2]). The average over-limit fee now stands at $27.40. Most top issuers have not raised over-limit fees this year.

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

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DataTran & Givex

Datacap Systems announced Friday the certification and availability of Givex Corporation’s Gift card and Loyalty programs on DataTran, Datacap’s e-payment appliance. Givex services are now accessible via any DataTran-ready ECR/POS system that includes gift commands in their application. Datacap’s Givex implementation enables merchants to process gift and loyalty transactions using the same DataTran that handles bank card and check authorizations.

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CARD PRODUCTION

Datacard Group unveiled two new systems that offer magnetic stripe encoding and inkjet printing of bar codes, logos and alphanumeric characters on preprinted loyalty or phone cards at speeds of 10,000 cards per hour. The E6200 Card Personalization System is designed for loyalty card production while the E8200 is designed for telephone scratch-off cards. One configuration prints alphanumeric characters lengthwise on a card, while the other prints data in multiple print fields in any location on a card. Datacard says the E6200 can produce cards at a cost as low as $0.0033 per card while the E8200 can produce cards at $0.006 per card.

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TORONTO MASTERCARD

The Toronto Entertainment District Association and MasterCard International have sealed a joint partnership to promote Toronto as a tourist destination. As part of the partnership, MasterCard becomes the
official credit card of the Entertainment District and will be featured prominently at member businesses and in district events. Located in the heart of downtown Toronto, the Toronto Entertainment District encompasses eight square blocks bordered by Queen Street West, York Street, the Gardiner Expressway/Lakeshore Blvd., and Spadina Avenue.

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Online Gambling

Citibank’s recent decision to block online gambling transactions with its credit cards in the USA has been deemed “politically motivated” by the head of the largest online gambling firm. London-based Sportingbet.com Plc’s CEO says Citibank’s decision is linked to New York’s plans to build a new gambling center closer to home. Last month, Sportingbet Plc launched a major campaign in the USA to promote government regulation of the online gambling industry. The firm has nearly 400,000 customers in the USA and estimates it could generate US$11 million per year in new tax revenue if online gaming was legalized. Sportingbet.com says 30% of its American customers use credit cards to place bets on its Web site. To further its plans in the USA, the firm has taken out full page advertisements in The Washington Post and The Washington Times, hired D.C. lobbyist Greenberg Traurig, and, has scheduled meetings with various Congressmen. Under the agreement reached last week with the New York Attorney General, Citibank says it will block transactions that are identified by transaction code as casinos and Web sites as online gambling. Bank of America, Fleet, Direct Merchants Bank, MBNA, and Chase Manhattan Bank have already begun blocking such transactions. (CF Library 6/17/02)

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PRINTER RIBBON PATENT

The Japan Patent Office has granted a patent for Fargo’s Printer Ribbon Identification Sensor, which has been referred to as the pin core patent. Sensors in each Fargo printer detect specific configurations of small metal pins in the core of each dye-sublimation, resin, or over-laminate ribbon, preventing installation or usage of any incorrect ribbon. In addition to the U.S. and Japanese patents, the Printer Ribbon Identification Sensor is also covered by patents issued by the European Patent Office and the People’s Republic of China Patent and Trademark Office. To-date, Fargo has been granted 27 U.S. patents and has over 90 patent applications pending, related to specific card printer technology such as lamination, card flipping, ribbon technology, High Definition Printing, dual input hoppers, output stackers and inkjet card printing.

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CAC Biometrics

The Department of Defense is getting serious about adding biometric technology as an added layer of security for the DoD’s new “Common Access Card.” KPMG Consulting has been awarded a contract to test and evaluate biometric technology for the CAC smart card. Over 600,000 cards have been issued to date, with distribution expected to exceed four million in the next two years. Currently, a CAC is authenticated through a PIN. However, the DoD wants KPMG to review voiceprint, fingerprint, iris pattern, or facial contours as new layers of authentication. The Smart Card Solution Team includes: SAFLINK Corporation; SPYRUS; XTec Inc.; and, Precise Biometrics.

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