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August 11, 2006

T-Online Venture Fund Invests In Click&Buy

T-Online Venture Fund has announced it has made a 10% investment in Zug, Switzerland-based FIRSTGATE Holding AG, owner of Click&Buy.

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Annals of Innovation: Bank Of America's Keep The Change Program

Ideo describes its involvement with Bank of America's innovation team in the development of the bank's "Keep the Change" debit card program. According to the article, "in less than one year, [Keep the Change] attracted 2.5 million customers, translating into more than 700,000 new checking accounts and one million new savings accounts for Bank of America. Impressed by the unique and intuitive nature of the program, 99% of its subscribers have chosen to keep the service--along with their change."

NHFA, ProfitPoint To Provide Gift & Loyalty Cards

National Home Furnishings Association (NHFA) and ProfitPoint have announced "a formal agreement to provide the association’s membership base access to state of the art Gift & Loyalty Card programs."

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Case Study: BankServ

Last month, Inc. Magazine profiled San Francisco-based BankServ, telling the inside story of a corporate restructuring the company's CEO Dave Kvederis decided was required in early 2005.

Subway Merges Payment, Loyalty and CRM Programs

Evan Schuman writes for eWEEK about "what one executive of the $9 billion, 26,000-restaurant Subway chain dubbed "the single largest integrated cash card program in the world." Schuman reports that "Subway has come out with a card that handles payment, instant loyalty rewards and highly targeted promotions that can be tracked by the customer" with the software behind the Subway program provided by Chockstone.

Bangalore-based Mobile Commerce Firm JiGrahak

India's Business Standard reports that "Helion Ventures, a $140 million venture fund jointly started by Sanjeev Aggarwal of Daksh fame, is investing in Bangalore-based mobile commerce firm JiGrahak. JiGrahak, which translates into 'Yes Customer', enables mobile commerce and payments through its platform, NGPay (Next Generation Pay). Once downloaded on to your mobile with this platform you can check schedules and buy airline tickets, movie tickets or order a pizza from your mobile phone. All this comes at no cost to a consumer and the company has built in a revenue model through the merchant establishments."

Financial Service Firms Busy With Patents

Julie Creswell writes for the New York Times about activity at many banks and financial services firms to patent various financial processes and technologies.

August 10, 2006

Catuity Launches Branded Gift Card Strategy

Catuity has announced that it can now issue Visa, MasterCard and Discover branded stored value cards for retailers. It also announced that industry veteran Rose Zwirn has been named Director of Stored Value Programs to oversee both branded and proprietary card programs for clients.

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Missouri Convenience Stores Introduce Finger Scan Payment Options

Pay By Touch has announced that 13 Mobile Gas Station Wallis Convenience Stores in Missouri are now capable of handling finger-scan payments. As an introductory offer, when customers sign up for the service at participating Mobil stores, they will receive a discount of 10 cents per gallon of gas purchased the first time they pay with their finger.

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Google Checkout T-Shirt Rewards

The Official Google Blog reports this morning that "everyone who buys something for $20 or more through Google Checkout all day today (August 10th) gets a free (Google Checkout) T-shirt. So find something you want to buy, enjoy faster checkout online -- and make room in the drawer for your new apparel." The list of online merchants now using Google Checkout continues to expand. Google's also posted a new online presentation for merchants on how to process orders and support customers with Google Checkout.

A Bank for Every Block

Eric Dash writes for the New York Times about how banks may be approaching market saturation in terms of physical world branches - or stores as they're increasingly called.

August 09, 2006

"All About Rewards" Surveys Moms

According to the "All About Rewards" survey of moms nationwide, conducted by Harris Interactive and commissioned by the Disney Rewards Visa Card from Chase, 41 percent of moms use a rewards card but many are not redeeming the rewards they have earned.

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Six Mobile Innovations That Will Change Your Life

David Haskin writes for TechWeb about six mobile innovations that he says "will change your life" - including "Pay By Phone". He points, in particular, to the progress being made with mobile payments in Japan by NTT DoCoMo.

MasterCard Item Level Authorization For Healthcare Transactions

MasterCard Worldwide has announced that it is introducing a new system enhancement and service designed to increase the use of Flexible Spending Accounts and other medical reimbursement plans by enabling third-party administrators to substantiate purchases in real time using item-level data collected at the point-of-sale. MasterCard says that the service, which has a patent pending, is the first offering of its kind and provides a more streamlined solution for benefit administrators and merchants.

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FSTC - Authenticating the FI to Consumers Project

The Financial Services Technology Consortium has announced the "Authenticating the FI to Consumers" project, a follow-on to the recently concluded Better Mutual Authentication Project. The project intends to develop use cases dealing with authenticating the FI to consumers, along with applicable threat analyses, processes, evaluation metrics and the testing of combinations of various important emerging technology solutions against Financial Services community use cases and requirements. A project prospectus is available from Dan Schutzer or Chris Nautiyal at the FSTC.

Banks Underestimating, Underutilizing Customer Account Statements

TowerGroup has announced a new research report titled, "Bank Account Statements: Underestimated Underutilized, and (Finally!) Undergoing Renewal," by Kathleen Khirallah, Research Director of the Retail Banking Practice, concluding that "many banks, thrifts, credit unions, and finance companies continue to regard account statements as a legal or regulatory obligation -- rather than a strategic communications vehicle that affects customers' perceptions of the institution." As a result, she argues that too many banks are missing key opportunities to proactively manage dialogue with customers -- and that paper based account statements have the potential to provide a high degree of personalization in customer communications.

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Declining Credit Card Growth: A Glass Half Full

Mercator Advisory Group has released a new report titled "Declining Credit Card Growth: A Glass Half Full" that explores the declining growth rates in credit card outstandings and payment volume.

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UK Online Spending To Hit £40bn

Michael Clarke reports for This is Money from the UK on the results of recent Datamonitor research commissioned by PayPal that concludes that online retail spending in the UK is likely to reach £21.6bn by 2010 with overall online spend, including services, reaching £39bn by the end of the decade. The study indicates that the "most lucrative online shopping sectors by that date will be food and grocery, which will account for a third of online spending, followed by clothing and footwear. Spending on downloads will reach £1.7bn in the next five years - a ten-fold increase."

Direct Response Forum's Annual Conference

The Direct Response Forum's annual conference is being held next week, August 13-15th, in Boston. This year's keynote will be given by Jack Stephenson, head of McKinsey & Company's North American Payments Practice. The full agenda for next weeks's event is available online.

Vindicia's CashBox For Digital Content Merchants

Vindicia's Gene Hoffman tells us that the new Vindicia CashBox payment management service is specifically designed to meet the needs of merchants selling digital content or "software as a service" online. CashBox helps these kinds of merchants both manage their payment processing much more efficiently (especially for handling recurring payments and for handling chargebacks) as well as providing customer lifecycle management services to optimize top line revenue. We expect to hear more from Vindicia about CashBox's payment management capabilities when it's officially launched soon.

Preventing ACH Debit Fraud

Coleen Shoji, Vice President and Assistant Manager of the Bank of Hawaii's Cash Management and Commercial Deposit Management Center, writes for Hawaii Business about how small businesses can protect themselves against fraudulent ACH debits.

August 08, 2006

HSA Bank Reports Accountholder Balance Growth in 2006

HSA Bank has announced that its accountholders' average balances have increased by more than $350 to nearly $1,940 during the first six months of 2006. HSA Bank attributes the increase in balances to both a greater number of accountholders saving their HSA funds and an increased level of contributions to individual accounts.

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A Look At American Express' Recent Fee, Rewards Adjustments

Aleksandra Todorova writes for SmartMoney.com asking whether it's time to cancel your America Express card - based upon the changes Amex announced recently to increase card fees and reduce its rewards benefits.

World's Best Internet Banks

Bank of America has announced it was named the best consumer Internet bank in North America by Global Finance magazine as part of its "World's Best Internet Banks" competition.

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Consumer Adoption of Alerts Doubles

Javelin Strategy & Research has announced a new report: "The Consumer Adoption of Alerts Doubles: What Do Consumers Want Now?" that reviews how electronic alerts are growing rapidly and forecasts growth to double yet again. According to Javelin, "alert adoption by online households has grown steadily from 13% to 25% in the past two years -- with most users using email or even text-message alerts to receive timely updates of low balances, transfers, bills due or paid, and more."

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Xign Blocks Invoice Exceptions, Reduces Error Rates

Xign Corporation has announced the results of a study on the impact of Xign network validation on invoice exception processing. According to the study, the rate of problem invoice submissions falls from 1 in every 8 invoices during initial deployment (13%) to 1 in every 33 invoices by year 3 (3%). "Dirty" invoices are a leading cause of settlement delays and high processing costs as the errors are typically left undetected until after invoice data is posted for processing -- leaving the burden of exception handling and dispute resolution to the
buyer.

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FotoStudio Online Storefront Service for Digital Photographers

FotoTime has announced FotoStudio, a new service for amateur and professional digital photographers to easily and cost effectively setup an online storefront to sell prints and gifts showcasing their photos.

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