On Sept. 29, 2008, Citigroup Inc. said the company was acquiring the banking operations of Charlotte, N.C.-based Wachovia Corp., a financial services provider, in a transaction facilitated by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Under the agreement, Citigroup would acquire the bulk of Wachovia's assets and liabilities.
However, on Oct. 3, 2008, Wells Fargo & Co. agreed to acquire all of Wachovia for $15.1 billion, trumping Citigroup's government-backed offer of $2.16 billion.
Citigroup has since challenged the Wachovia - Wells Fargo merger. "We have not yet reviewed the new Wells Fargo proposal and the issues it raises,'' the Federal Reserve and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency said. "The regulators will be working with the parties to achieve an outcome that protects all Wachovia creditors, including depositors, insured and uninsured, and promotes market stability.''
Robert Carr, chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Heartland Payment Systems Inc., was named the recipient of the 2008 Women Networking in Electronic Transactions (W.net) Stiletto Award, the organization's highest honor. This is the first W.net DIVA (Driving Improvement Via Action) Award to be presented.
The Stiletto Award celebrates an individual who works tirelessly to empower women for greater success and who demonstrates a commitment to W.net by helping to elevate the status of women to new heights within the industry.
"Bob Carr was the first individual to step forward in 2005 to proclaim his passionate support of W.net and his ongoing support of W.net has been extraordinary. We are so proud to honor him with this prestigious award," said Mary Gerdts, President, W.net.
On Sept. 15, 2008, Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc. was purchased by Bank of America Corp. for $50 billion. While this acquisition most directly impacts the retail brokerage and capital market sectors, it also carries important implications for the debit card sector of retail payments.
New research from TowerGroup finds that the acquisition provides Bank of America with a special edge in the high-net-worth card business - a niche requiring that customers hold no less than $500,000 in assets.
"Bank of America's acquisition of the Merrill Lynch card business brings more innovation than scale," said Brian Riley, Research Director in the Bank Cards practice at TowerGroup.
"Merrill Lynch built its debit and credit card business into the top 20 rankings by addressing a sole market: high-net-worth. This added dimension offers Bank of America the opportunity to step into the top-tier of global private banking."
On Sept. 25, 2008, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously approved HR 3402, the Calling Card Consumer Protection Act. HR 3402 requires prepaid telephone calling service providers or card distributors to disclose the total value in dollars or the number of calling minutes, a description of all terms and conditions, the service provider's name, customer service number, and hours of service.
HR 3402 will also make it illegal for any prepaid calling card provider or distributor to impose any charge or fee not so disclosed, to provide fewer minutes than disclosed, or charge for unconnected calls.
Congressional findings indicated that the prepaid telephone calling card industry is plagued by fraudulent and deceptive business practices. Therefore, this new law is designed to ensure that advertising is truthful and accurate.
Allpoint Network, a division of Cardtronics Inc., the nation's largest surcharge-free ATM network, signed Gorham Savings Bank. GSB has nine locations in Maine, more than 2,400 ATMs across New England and approximately $750 million in assets.
More than 1,000 online stores, catalogs and travel partners now offer Bill Me Later, Inc.'s payments technology. The merchants in the network represent top-tier retail, airline and hotel brands.
Payment processor Elavon Inc., formerly NOVA Information Systems, sits atop the charts for back office conversion processing, surpassing more than 4.6 million transactions in August 2008 and accounting for more than $400 million in converted check volumes.
Fifth Third Processing Solutions, a division of Fifth Third Bank, was awarded the MasterCard Worldwide Global Quality Gold Award for its excellence in operational achievements.
Heartland Payment Systems Inc. was named a leader among the nation's innovative companies by InformationWeek. The publication honors the nation's most creative users of information technology. Heartland was recognized for its pioneering information technology strategies, including its next-weekday-morning funding technology.
MasterCard Worldwide selected Packet General Networks Inc.'s solution to build a Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standard (DSS) compliant infrastructure for Internet transactions. Packet General created a family of secure server appliances that protects application data.
PaymentMax Processing Inc. has nearly 40 videos on YouTube.com showing business owners how to use the latest in payment processing developments and equipment. PaymentMax's videos feature overviews of what the equipment does, trains businesses how to use them and covers the various aspects of running a transaction.
Heartland certified VeriFone's pay-at-the-table managed services solution for nationwide use. Heartland is marketing the technology to restaurant customers under the Heartland Tableside brand.
Global eTelecom Inc. partnered with ProMAC Inc. to provide merchants with advance funding based on check volume. ProMAC's electronic payment advance product enables merchants to use business and consumer check processing receipts as a repayment stream for merchant advance transactions.
Payment processor Heartland Payment Systems Inc. and Union Bankshares Corp. (UBSH) are offering their combined services to businesses in Virginia. Heartland will offer credit, debit and prepaid card processing, and payroll solutions to UBSH's clients as well as recommend UBSH's business banking solutions to its customers.
Gift and loyalty card provider Opticard Payment Services Inc. partnered with National Community Pharmacists Association to act as the exclusive loyalty and stored value processing provider for the association and its more than 23,000 members.
Panini North America Inc., a check capture solutions provider, signed a reseller agreement with Metavante Corp. The agreement enables Metavante to offer Panini's Vision X check scanners to its banking clients for remote deposit and branch image capture.
Passfaces Corp. and Solution Oriented Systems completed the roll out of a solution integrating Passfaces authentication technology into an end user application. Passfaces is based on peoples' ability to recognize familiar faces. Passfaces also provides built-in anti-phishing protection.
Posdata Inc. will market Hypercom Corp.'s Smart-Payments EasyRetail product to ISOs, acquirers and value added resellers. The product includes the components required for a small retailer to begin conducting and accepting electronic payments within minutes. It also comes with free help desk support for the first month.
Trustwave partnered with GlobalCollect Internat-ional, a payments processor, to form a compliance management program that will help GlobalCollect merchants worldwide validate compliance with PCI DSS. Trustwave will provide services and solutions to GlobalCollect's entire merchant population including, retail, travel, gaming, financial services and software providers.
USA Technologies Inc. and ViVOtech Inc. entered into an agreement by which ViVOtech will provide 25,000 contactless and magstripe card readers for USAT's ePort technology. USA Technologies made an initial purchase of 10,000 readers from ViVOtech in 2007.
Visa Inc. chose TBWA Worldwide, an Omnicom communications company, as its global lead strategic and creative agency. The agency consolidation will take effect Jan. 1, 2009, and is expected to deliver creative synergies and other operating and cost efficiencies to Visa.
Global Payments Inc. agreed to acquire ZAO United Card Service (UCS) from ZAO United Investments. UCS is a direct merchant acquirer and indirect payment processor in the Russian Federation. Global Payments will pay $120 million for the company. In 2007, UCS entered into a 10-year marketing alliance agreement with Rosbank, which provides UCS with Visa and MasterCard bank sponsorship. Rosbank is one of the top Russian banks with the largest network among privately-owned banks, with total assets of approximately $16.6 billion.
IHS Inc., a security solutions company, will acquire Global Insight Inc., an analysis and consulting firm, for $200 million. IHS supplies global information on energy, the environment, security and product lifecycles. IHS will build an integrated research and operations capability, leveraging the resources of Global Insight and the company's other Insight brands.
Ron Carter joined Cynergy Data LLC, a cash advance company, as Executive Vice President of Business Development. Carter has more than three decades of experience in the credit card and banking industries.
Don Gaspar joined Yapstone Inc. as Chief Technology Officer. He has more than 20 years of experience working with engineering teams, including 10 years in executive management roles.
VeriFone created an Integrated Systems Group for Latin America and appointed Gustavo Jimenez Vice President and General Manager of the group. Jimenez was previously VeriFone Vice President of Business Development for the region.
CrossCheck Inc., added David Kilat, Senior Vice President of Business Analysis and Operations, to its executive management team. Kilat, a Certified Public Accountant, has almost 30 years of accounting and leadership experience.
Visa Inc. appointed Marc Luet as President of its Central Europe, Middle East and Africa region. Luet is a 20-year financial services veteran, most recently with Fortis Group. Previously, he was on the Executive Committee at Egg Banking PLC in the U.K. and also spent 12 years in Citigroup's retail banking division.
Eric Lecesne is the new President and Chief Operating Officer of WAY Systems Inc. He previously held the position of Vice President of Manufacturing and Supply Chain. He was also General Manager, Executive Vice President and CTO in charge of Marketing, research and development, and Manufacturing for Ingenico Inc. as well as General Manager in charge of marketing and research and development at VeriFone.
ACI Worldwide Inc. appointed Dr. James C. McGroddy to its board of directors. McGroddy will serve as chairman of the board's newly established technology committee. McGroddy worked for IBM for 30 years, including seven years as Senior Vice President of Research.
He is chairman of the board of Advanced Networks and Services Inc.
Hypercom Corp. appointed Robert J. Miklosko Vice President of Global Engineering, Research and Development. Miklosko has more than 20 years experience in wireless and consumer electronic planning, design and development, and project and product management.
Comodo Group Inc. tapped Adam Soskin to create new channels to distribute the firm's products. Soskin will use his marketing experience as channel manager and consultant at global software companies to recruit distributors, resellers, and manufacturer representatives.
MasterCard Worldwide elected Jackson Tai to its board of directors. Tai is the former Vice Chairman and CEO of DBS Group and DBS Bank Ltd. Previously, he was a Managing Director in the Investment Banking Division at JPMorgan Chase & Co. Inc.
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