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« November 3, 2002 - November 9, 2002 | Main | November 17, 2002 - November 23, 2002 »

November 16, 2002

Washington Post: Add-ons add up

Caroline Mayer writes about how add-on fees have taken over.
Citigroup started offering payment by phone -- for $9.95 per transaction -- after it saw a number of customers sending their payments by overnight mail. "That wasn't very economical, and our $9.95 fee is certainly better than a $15 to $20 overnight fee" as well as cheaper than a late fee, said Citigroup spokeswoman Maria Mendler. Citigroup late fees range from $15 to $35, depending on how much money is owed. And cardholders can always pay online, where payments are processed quickly without any fee.

Wired: Visa wins domain name lawsuit

Paul Boutin reports on Visa winning a lawsuit over the domain name
Electronic Frontier Foundation legal director Cindy Cohn clarified the decision's relevance in an e-mail: "Apple Computer, no matter how famous it becomes, cannot restrict the use of the word 'apple' to refer to the fruit. Yet here, the court has held that the Visa credit card company can restrict the ability of Americans to use the word 'visa' to when they offer travel-related information and services." Cohn said the EFF was considering an appeal next week.

Sydney Morning Herald: Card sharks stalk ATM's

Daniel Dasey reports on a rash of fraudster attacks on credit and ATM cards in Australia. ABC News reports an arrest in one of the cases.

November 15, 2002

Financial Times: Credit card lawyers rebut anti-trust claims

Ellen Kelleher and Vanessa Valkin report on yesterday's stories about the merchant class action lawsuit against Visa and MasterCard.

November 14, 2002

Fiserv acquires Consumer Network Services business from EDS

Fiserv announced that it is acquiring the Consumer Network Services business from EDS for $320 MM cash.
CNS is one of the nation‚s largest electronic funds transfer (EFT) transaction processors and automated teller machine operators. The deal is expected to close by the end of the year, pending regulatory review. The 2003 processing and services revenues from this business are projected to be $150-160 million.

HSBC to acquire Household International

HSBC announced this morning that it is acquiring Household International. An investor presentation on the merger was posted this morning on the Household website.

WSJ: Visa, MasterCard campaigned to undercut rival's debit cards

John Wilke reports on newly unsealed court documents in the antitrust lawsuit brought by many of the nation's largest retailers including Wal-Mart.
Depositions and internal company memos depict the companies as paying banks millions of dollars to curtail rival debit-card transactions, demanding that merchants take their debit cards or lose access to credit-card sales, and even trying to disguise their debit cards so merchants couldn't tell them from credit cards.
Natually, you'd expect competition to occur. The legal question is whether any of it was illegal in any way. Other questions include what the card association member banks actually thought about this competition -- as they use products from all of the brands and networks! Counsel for the merchants issued a press release this morning.
"The only substantial dispute now is what relief the court is likely to ultimately award against Visa and MasterCard," said Lloyd Constantine, lead counsel for the merchants, and a principle in the New York firm of Constantine & Partners. "These documents are compelling evidence of how Visa and MasterCard violated U.S. antitrust law by attempting to monopolize the debit transaction market and forcing merchants, through tying of products, to accept offline debit transactions. Those offline debit transactions are slower, less safe and cost merchants and their customers much more than online PIN debit, cash or checks."
More court documents are available for online review at the Visa Check/MasterMoney Antitrust Litigation Website.

November 13, 2002

Financial Express (India): Survey paints a rosy payment card future

Raghu Mohan reports from India on the growth of revolving credit card products and the introduction of debit cards.

New York Times: Checking is free, but the profits are hefty

Riva Atlas reports on how banks make money on free checking accounts.
Banks make money from free-checking customers in three ways. Because such accounts generally pay no interest, they provide a cheap source of money for the banks, which can then reinvest the money elsewhere, Mr. Stein said. The banks also use the accounts to attract new customers who will then buy their other products, like insurance or mortgages. Banks also charge many fees, particularly for covering bounced checks.

November 12, 2002

Cartes Bancaires: How to use Moneo

The Cartes Bancaires CB Mag has an article that describes how to use the new Moneo e-purse smart cards.

November 10, 2002

Sydney Morning Herald: Plot to rip-off ATM users revealed

Jonathan Pearlman reports on how thieves used a device attached to a Sydney ATM to copy more than 100 cards.
The thieves copied the information contained on the cards' magnetic strips using a matchbox-sized machine fitted beneath the card-entry slot of a St George ATM in King Street, Newtown. St George's fraud investigators believe the device was attached to the ATM for no more than an hour at a time and that customers were filmed entering their pin-numbers using a camera placed nearby. Some customers reporting the theft to police recalled seeing the device.

New York Times: A bet on credit cards becomes messy for Sears

Constance Hays reports on the credit losses at Sears resulting from aggressive marketing of the Sears gold MasterCard.

Wichita Eagle: Readers divulge what they carry in their wallets

Deb Gruver updates her story from last Sunday on personal preferences for cash and plastic.
The most humorous response was from a man who said he carries $10,000 in his wallet at all times. I'd like to meet this man! (Over a $500 bottle of wine, I think I'd kindly suggest he put that money to better use.) "What's in that wallet is my money," he told my answering machine, somewhat defiantly. His wife, he said, has her own money. He clearly thinks being a "real man" involves a fat wallet.

San Francisco Chronicle: Credit card client parries rate hike

David Lazarus reports on the experience of Norman Shopay of Benecia who recently had the interest rate on his credit card significantly increased.
Norman Shopay of Benicia is the credit industry's worst nightmare: a customer who pays attention to his bills, files away supporting documents, takes copious notes and has the chutzpah to push his point even when a greedy card issuer insists that he's wrong. As it turns out, Shopay was correct to stick to his guns. And more than a few other consumers would be smart to follow his example.

Coloradoan: Put it on plastic

Julie Gordon writes on the increased usage of debit and credit cards in Ft. Collins, Colorado.
The average American household has 10 credit cards, said Vickie Bajtelsmit, associate professor of finance at Colorado State University and author of "The Busy Woman's Guide to Financial Freedom." Visa spokeswoman Janet Yang said U.S. consumers carry about 383 million Visa-branded cards, including credit cards and debit cards.


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