A recent Aite Group LLC report addressed interchange, discount rates, vendors, fraud and Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standard (DSS) compliance, and the future of acquiring. Seventy-three percent of acquirers surveyed said margin compression is their biggest challenge. While the industry is in flux, acquirers and ISOs feel the constant pressure of competitive pricing.
Bank of America Corp. joined Brighter Planet in offering a credit card that helps customers invest in the development of clean, renewable energy projects. The Brighter Planet Visa Inc. credit card allows customers to earn one EarthSmart point for every $1 spent in retail purchases. Points earned will support renewable energy projects in the United States. Every 1,000 points are anticipated to compensate for one ton of carbon dioxide. For every two points earned through December 2008, BofA will match the contribution by one point.
The Web site, www.brighterplanet.com offers cardholders the ability to monitor clean energy projects and reduction progress sponsored by the use of their cards. "This credit card doesn't only buy goods, it buys the world time in the fight against global warming," said Mindy S. Lubber, President of Ceres, a U.S. coalition that is a member of the Brighter Planet Project Selection Committee.
"By paying for projects that reduce greenhouse gases, the credit card educates consumers and allows them to do something more with their rewards than purchasing airline tickets and hotel stays."
Registration for the Electronic Transactions Association's 2008 Annual Meeting & Expo, held each spring in Las Vegas, began the first week of December at www.electran.org. More than 3,000 attendees flock to the event each year, and the expo hall now includes more than 175 exhibitors, covering thousands of square feet.
Past keynote speakers have been delivered by such luminaries as Visa Inc. Chief Executive Officer John Philip Coghlan, CNN's Lou Dobbs, Discover Financial Services' CEO David Nelms and Data Security Expert Bruce Schneier. In addition to networking opportunities, the event features educational sessions addressing a wide range of payments industry issues and opportunities, as well as cutting edge development in technology.
Intuit Inc. released the latest version of QuickBooks Point of Sale retail management software. Designed to substitute the traditional cash register, the software enables retailers to connect tasks such as credit card transactions and employee time cards with inventory control and customer service.
The new loyalty program included with the software lets retailers track and reward their customers, allowing for the setup of reward thresholds and discounts based on customer spending. The new shipping manager is designed to make it easier for retailers to process and track shipments.
Legal Age ID Systems Inc., an identification verification systems company, and Chase Paymentech, payment provider, are adding age verification software to retailer POS terminal packages in Canada. The new technology will simplify the prevention of unauthorized sales to minors by merchants.
The age checking is completed by pressing a key on the POS terminal and swiping the ID card. The POS terminal will instantly display the person's age with a message, either approving or declining purchase. Legal Age ID Systems' software can check more than 270 forms of identification from Canada and the United States. The cross-border capabilities will help merchants to follow underage retail restrictions, particularly in tourist communities.
The National Retail Federation predicts more than 70% of shoppers will use a debit or credit card as payment for 2007 holiday purchases, and this protects consumers and merchants from fraud. Merchants enjoy advantages from accepting electronic payments such as increased sales at the POS, faster payment and greater fraud protection, the NRF noted.
Fifth Third Bank added gift card centers to all of its branch locations. The centers will include a variety of cards, including the Fifth Third MasterCard Worldwide and American Express Co. cards, as well as many merchant gift cards ranging from long-distance carriers to major retailers.
"Feedback has been so positive that we are pleased to add gift card displays to the remainder of our banking centers ... in time for the holiday shopping season," said Jim Higgins, Fifth Third Vice President of Card and Payment Products.
Givex Corp.'s annual National Gift Card Survey results, conducted by SES Research, confirms the growth of the gift card reloading trend. Thirty-eight percent of respondents named discounts as the main reason for reloading their cards. The report also showed 71% of participants claimed convenience as the No. 1 benefit of gift cards. They remain a popular gift across all age groups, with women leading gift card use - 81%.
National Processing Co., a U.S. merchant acquirer and transaction processor, is increasing its use of the Orion all-in-one payment terminal by 4Access Communications Co.
Orion, a comprehensive payment processing terminal that reads and images checks, and has applications for handling credit, gift, and loyalty cards, was first launched through NPC's retriever payment systems unit. Through Internet protocol or dial access, Orion transfers check images to the 4Access archive and retrieval system. 4Access also supplies a Web-hosted Configuration Server that manages Orion terminal configurations.
New Era Solutions has developed StreamLion, an information processing solution that automates merchant transactions, recognizes revenues and reports to agents. The company, a business process management and information technology consulting firm, has been contracted by Outside Ventures Ltd.
Smart Transaction Systems Inc., a provider of gift card programs for retailers, introduced the Card Designer, which enables small businesses to design their own gift cards and complete orders for them online. Merchants design their cards, choosing from a range of backgrounds and fonts, and the cards ship two to four days from the day design proofs are approved.
Payment processor United Merchant Services Inc. has new corporate headquarters in Hackensack, N.J. The company opened the new building Nov. 19, 2007. The amenities include training facilities designed for educating United Merchant's ISOs.
Alliance Data Systems Corp. signed a multiyear agreement with 7-Eleven Inc. to provide payment processing services to more than 5,500 of their convenience stores. Under this agreement, Alliance Data will provide services such as authorization and settlement for debit and credit transactions, and prepaid services to 7-Eleven.
"We expect this partnership with Alliance Data will provide our stores with more efficient processing capabilities," said Robbie Radant, 7-Eleven's Director of Payment Acceptance.
BuySAFE Inc., a trust and safety company for e-commerce, is available to merchants using AspDotNetStorefront's e-commerce platform, under a new partnership. BuySAFE will be available as a feature that can be activated by customers from the AspDotNetStorefront administration screen. Under this same method, supporters of AspDotNetStorefront can allow buySAFE for their clients as well.
Merchants that are approved will display the buySAFE seal, which offers customers third party endorsement of a merchant's credibility. The seal also indicates the merchant is monitored by buySAFE, insuring that its customers' purchases can be fully guaranteed.
Goldleaf Financial Solutions Inc. and Commercial Bank signed a long-term agreement to run Goldleaf's core processing solution, Retriever. The solution will provide the bank with the ability to offer its commercial and retail clients online services as well as new products. The bank will be implementing the solution for branch capture, Web site design and hosting, automated clearing house, remote deposit capture, fixed assets, cold storage and document imaging. Commercial Bank stated it wanted a complete technology suite that would let the bank become more competitive and interface with its customers at a higher level.
Stanford Federal Credit Union joined Allpoint Network to expand its presence and provide members with nationwide surcharge-free ATM access. As a result, more than 3,600 surcharge-free ATMs in California and 32,000 nationwide will be available for use to members. "Access is what members want and expect today, and Allpoint adds a great number of access points across the country for our members," SFCU President and Chief Executive Officer John R. Davis said.
In Mexico, VeriFone will now offer merchant-hosted services for managing electronic payments. The company partnered with Tienda-kit, a nonbank third-party acquirer and merchant services provider based in Mexico. Tienda-kit now operates as VeriFone Access, and small to mid-sized merchants will now have access to managed services over broadband and wireless connections. Merchants can facilitate customer preferences for credit and debit card-based purchases.
Vesdia Corp., a marketing services provider, and MXT Card Services LLC, a solution in the affinity credit card industry, have signed a multiyear agreement to improve Vesdia's branded programs. A selection of affinity-based reward credit cards will be available. Vesdia's loyalty platform allows cardholders to get merchant-funded rewards, up to 30% on everyday purchases made through the company's network of stores.
EPayments Corp. acquired Check Collection and Recovery Inc. In this process, ePayments' electronic check collection business will accumulate new check recovery and credit card processing clients.
The company will maintain its current office and staffing levels are expected to grow.
NetSpend Holdings Inc., a retail marketer of prepaid debit cards, and Capital One Financial Corp. terminated their acquisition agreement and entered into a letter of intent to expand their relationship.
Capital One now plans to acquire an interest in NetSpend. Together, the companies will jointly pursue the distribution of prepaid card products through a variety of mainstream retail channels. The agreement is not expected to have a material effect on Capital One's earnings per share in 2008.
TNB Card Services added new credit union clients to its processing business. Included are Energy Capital Credit Union of Houston and Generations Credit Union of Olympia, Wash. Energy Capital serves family members and employees of Exxon Mobil Corp.
The 73-year-old credit union moved to TNB because its card program declined, even though credit union membership continued to grow. Generations of credit union members decided to switch when its former card processor didn't have a satisfactory means of exchanging data with its core processor.
John Haddad joined United Processing Corp., a full-service credit and debit card processing company, as National Sales Director. Haddad brings sales management experience and a commitment of service to clients.
PaySimple, a provider of payment management solutions for businesses, appointed Connie Howard as Senior Vice Present of Client Services of its management team. As a member of PaySimple, Howard will help shape the client services organization and manage ongoing partner and direct client relationships.
First American Payment Systems, LP added Kevin Jones and Rhoda Perez to its sales team. Jones will be Vice President of Sales and Marketing for the company's ISO and financial institution management and Perez will be the Director of Strategic Partnerships to oversee all ISO and financial institution sales and recruiting.
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