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June 23, 2006

Butterfly From American Express

American Express has introduced Butterfly, a compact and stylish companion card for American Express Gold Card members. The card literally folds up into a slim metal keychain-like device.

SWIFT Statement On Compliance Policy

In response to articles in today's New York Times, Washington Post, and Wall St. Journal about terrorism investigations and the role of SWIFT, the organization has published a statement on its web site that concludes "The SWIFT Board and Executive have done their utmost to get the right balance in fulfilling their obligations to the authorities in a manner protective of the interests of the company and its members."

Changes In Use Of Electronic Payments: 1995-2004

Loretta Mester, senior vice president and director of research at the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, has published an article including an updated set of tables (PDF) derived from the Federal Reserve's Survey of Consumer Finances on the usage of various forms of electronic payments.

Mobile Commerce: Slow To Get Started

Danny Bradbury reports for the Financial Times on mobile commerce - and comments "a few years back, many people thought that by now everyone would pay for soft drinks by waving a cellphone at a vending machine. In reality, mobile commerce, or m-commerce, has been slow to get started."

June 22, 2006

Money-Service Firms Seek To Rebuild Ties With Banks

Robert Schroeder reports for MarketWatch on a hearing held yesterday by the House Committee on Financial Services - Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit titled "Bank Secrecy Act’s Impact on Money Services Businesses" where concerns were expressed about some banks ending their relationships with money-service businesses because of regulatory concerns. The prepared remarks from several speakers at yesterday's hearing are available from the Subcommittee's web site. The comments of Philip Milne (PDF), president and CEO of MoneyGram International, are particularly interesting to read - ..."Two months ago Bank of America informed MoneyGram that it would be terminating its long-term relationship with MoneyGram. This was not just a simple deposit account, but rather a global banking relationship that generated millions of dollars in fees annually for Bank of America."...

CrossCheck Conversion Service For Accounts Receivable Checks

CrossCheck has announced CrossCheck Business Office Conversion Plus, a check conversion and guarantee service for consumer and business checks including accounts receivable checks.

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UK: Consumers Like Pay By Touch

Dave Friedlos reports from the UK on consumer reaction to pilots of Pay By Touch's biometric payment service where surveys report that 85 per cent of consumers said the technology is more convenient than chip-and-PIN and 75 per cent felt it is more secure. He also reports that there currently is "little enthusiasm among other major retailers for the system."

A Look At Postepay - Prepaid Card Papers Italy with Plastic

Maureen Kline reports for Business Week about Massimo Sarmi, CEO of Poste Italiane, the Italian postal service, and his very successful Postepay cards - a "prepaid, rechargeable Visa or MasterCard that is rapidly becoming the credit card surrogate of choice for Italians without plastic, credit ratings, or even bank accounts."

Experian Acquires Eiger Systems

Experian has announced the acquisition of UK-based Eiger Systems, a provider of bank account validation and payment processing software.

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June 21, 2006

Discover 'Surprised' By Low Credit Costs

David Enrich reports for MarketWatch that Morgan Stanley's "Discover credit- and debit-card unit racked up record profits in the second quarter. But a key driver of the results - the smaller amount that Discover set aside to cover possible bad loans - might not last."

Xign Announces Settlement Benchmarking Service

Xign Corporation has announced Xign Network Insight that the company claims is "the first network-based benchmarking service for tracking and improving financial settlement performance."

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The Nilson Report - Issue 858

The latest Nilson Report has arrived featuring an in-depth look at general purpose cards in Asia/Pacific (subscription only). Among other feature articles, this issue also has an article discussing credit card fraud in the US, merchant debit cards such as Debitman, web authentication from 41st Parameter, and a continuation from the last issue re: credit card debt sales.

US Bank Acquires Schneider Payment Services

US Bank has announced that it will purchase Schneider Payment Services (SPS), a division of Schneider National, Inc. The acquisition will in excess of $7 billion in freight payments to US Bank's PowerTrack portfolio, which the bank says will make its PowerTrack the "clear leader in freight payments."

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Japan: Usury Plan Worries Credit Card Firms

The Asahi Shimbun reports from Japan on concerns among Japanese credit card companies that they stand to "lose billions of yen a year in revenue if the government goes ahead with plans to plug a legal loophole that allows them to charge nearly 30 percent interest per annum on consumer loans."

First Data's STAR Renews Golden 1 Credit Union

First Data Corp. has announced it has "renewed its agreement with the sixth-largest U.S. credit union, Golden 1, to provide STAR Network access and PIN-debit processing for its more than 280,000 U.S. cardholders and its 271 ATMs."

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Australia: Life In The Red

Brigid Delaney reports for the Sydney Morning Herald on the rapid increase in consumer credit card debt in Australia and increasing concerns that the "house of cards" may all come tumbling down.

Report: Credit Card Late Fees Average $35

A new report by IndexCreditCards.com concludes that credit card late fees are averaging $35 with the average over-the-limit fee being $32.24.

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Book: First Data Gave Feds Records

Andy Vuong reports for the Denver Post on details published by author Ron Susskind in his new book "The One Percent Doctrine" saying that First Data Corp. reportedly "gave the FBI and CIA unfettered access to data on millions of customers shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks". Yesterday's New York Times also reviewed Susskind's book and also mentioned Susskind's comments about First Data.

A Look At Xign

Ben Semmes writes for the Tri-Valley Herald about Pleasanton, CA-based Xign, a business to business payment processor founded by CEO Tom Glassanos.

June 20, 2006

Chase Rolls Out Contactless Visa Debit Cards with 'blink'

Chase, the consumer banking brand of JPMorgan Chase, has announced the rollout of 1.8 million Visa debit cards with blink technology in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut - saying it is the first Visa issuer to offer contactless payment capability on its debit cards.

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Philadelphia Fed Seeks Payment Cards Industry Specialist

The Payment Card Center of the Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank has posted an employment opportunity for a Payment Cards Industry Specialist. A detailed job description is available at the bank's web site.

BB&T Makes EasySend Money Transfer Free

BB&T has announced it will begin offering free international money transfers throughout its banking network for clients who have a checking account, savings account or payroll card with BB&T.

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The High Cost Of Being Poor

On Sunday, the Buffalo News ran the first story in a four part series by staff reporters Rob Watson and Jonathan Epstein about the "high cost of being poor." The story introduction commented "every day, the working poor face a kind of Alice-in-Wonderland reality where those who can afford the least pay the most." A must read.

Playing The Balance Transfer Game

Mary Hunt of Everyday Cheapskate writes about her colleague's strategy to accept zero interest balance transfer offers from card issuers, write himself a convenience check that's included with the offer, deposit it into his bank account, wait for it to clear, transfer it to his high yield Emigrant Direct savings account - and proceed to earn high interest on the proceeds while making minimum payments at zero interest for a year. He says this strategy yields him about $430 in interest income over the course of a year on about $15,000. She says he's a financial daredevil for playing this game.

Citi Contributes $100MM in College Savings to Upromise

Citi Cards has announced that its college savings contributions to Upromise members have reached $100MM in contributions in under five years. Upromise is a service that allows families to save a percentage of their everyday spending as college savings with more than 450 participating companies. READ MORE »

UK's OFT To Probe MasterCard, Visa Interchange Fees

The UK's Office of Fair Trading has "consented to the Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) setting aside the OFT's September 2005 decision concerning MasterCard's historic interchange fee arrangements. The OFT will now focus its resources on tackling both MasterCard's and Visa's current UK interchange fee arrangements, leaving it to affected third parties to contest the lawfulness of the old arrangements, if they choose to, in private court actions."

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Experian's VantageScore Available to Consumers

Experian has announced that VantageScore from Experian is now available to consumers.

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