The Network Branded Prepaid Card Association distributed a statement in response to the proposed rules for gift cards released by the Federal Reserve Board on Nov. 16, 2009. Though the NBPCA stated it is still reviewing the implications of the Fed's rules, the association's President Kirsten Trusko called the proposal "tough but fair and reasonable." She added that much of what is being proposed "related to expiration dates, clear and conspicuous disclosure of fees, restrictions on certain kinds of fees, et cetera, is already being done by many members of the industry. We look forward to working with the board in the coming weeks to provide comments for improving on certain aspects of the proposed rules and resolving any unanswered questions they may have." The Federal Reserve Board is tasked with drafting rules concerning gift cards as part of the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosures Act of 2009.
Oberthur Technologies Inc. rolled out what it claims is the European Union's first prepaid Visa Inc. contactless card issued by an Italian bank. The Banc Popolare di Sondrio's card (called "Carta di Ateneo" in Italian) is a reloadable prepaid card embedded with a contactless chip.
In other news, Oberthur Technologies' FlyBuy Sticker gained Discover Financial Services' approval, which ensures that the Discover Zip contactless payment application functions properly on the sticker and the sticker is interoperable with Discover-certified POS terminals. Oberthur Technologies also partnered with Todos for a fully managed authentication service that features the Versatile Authentication Server for e-commerce and online banking. The service also includes card readers with associated chip or public key infrastructure smart cards, connected and unconnected tokens, mobile applications, scratch cards, and matrix cards with one-time passwords.
Progressive Grocer Magazine awarded Coinstar Inc. the Category Captain award in the nonfood category for the Coinstar 4th Wall category management program. Coinstar has won this award four years running.
First Data Corp.'s electronic funds transfer network, the STAR Network, now has prepaid load and reload functionality. The infrastructure is under construction to make the new capability available at participating ATM and POS locations, which will be designated by a STAR Reload service icon. The icon will also appear on participating payment cards.
Tampa, Fla.-based nFinanSe Inc. will launch its new Visa Reloadable Prepaid Card in Winn-Dixie Stores Inc. supermarkets this month. The card will sell for $3, and cardholders will not be charged for transactions. The monthly maintenance and reload fees are $2.95 apiece.
Geneva, Switzerland-based Paymotech SA, a company specializing in global systems for mobile telecommunications and payments, launched a global mobile wallet called PayToo Mobile.
The integrated solution includes a payment component for credit transfers and allows for purchases via bankcard, bar code, secure short message service (SMS), vocal server or near field communication stickers.
SelectCore Ltd., a provider of prepaid telecommunication and POS activation solutions for Canadian convenience and grocery stores, will offer 4.9 million options to its senior management, full-time employees and board of directors in light of the company's growth and profitability.
U.K.-based Ukash reported that it operates in 28 countries worldwide and is now available online in 22 countries. The alternative payment company recently expanded into Austria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Latvia, Norway and Slovakia through consumers' online bank accounts.
Blackhawk Network, a subsidiary of Safeway Inc., signed an agreement with Michaels Stores Inc. for its Gift Card Mall to be installed at Michaels' more than 900 U.S. stores. The Gift Card Mall features over 100 retailer-branded gift cards.
Canada Post Corp. will offer three new Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games-themed Visa prepaid cards in 1,500 of its locations.
The Visa Canada cards are issued by Citizens Bank of Canada, a subsidiary of Vancouver City Savings Credit Union.
Ontario-based Carta Worldwide signed an agreement to join The Multos Consortium, a group of organizations responsible for the continued maintenance and development of the Multos specification, a multi-application smart card standard.
Palm Beach, Fla.-based payment provider Commerce Online Inc. partnered with RedFin Network Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Secured Financial Network Inc., to roll out its branded, prepaid loyalty and identification card for licensed medical marijuana dispensaries and collectives in California and Colorado.
Franklin Mutual Insurance in New Jersey, in conjunction with InsurCard and The Bancorp Bank Payment Solutions Group, can now offer to its policy holders the InsurCard Visa Prepaid Card for distribution of insurance payments.
Inside Contactless, an Aix-En-Provence, France-based contactless chip manufacturer, is providing critical infrastructure components to Taggo for Taggo's contactless sticker that will allow consumers to subscribe to numerous loyalty programs through SMS from mobile phones.
M2 Europe, leveraging its former Altair Technologies Ltd. assets, teamed with Airmax Group to roll out the MasterCard Worldwide-branded Airmax Scope prepaid card, which features hosted data from vehicles and detailed payment reporting for online fuel and expense management.
Game card provider Pay88 Inc. signed a letter of intent with Chongqing Kai Yuan Investment Co., a niche financial services firm that provides microloans to Chongqing small businesses, to provide the Pay88 platform for applying for loans online, along with other features not previously available to the investment company's customers. Chongqing is the fastest-growing regional municipality in China with more than 31 million citizens.
Travelex, in partnership with Passports Inc., an organization that provides educational, international travel opportunities for U.S. students, now offers its first business expense program. The MasterCard-branded Travelex Cash Passport card allows businesses to fund and manage the expenses of employees as they attend conferences and conduct other business-related travel.
Tuxedo Money Solutions and International Foreign Exchange partnered to offer prepaid cards geared to frequent travelers who make payments abroad. Tuxedo said cardholders of the IFX MasterCard Prepaid Currency Card can purchase currency at guaranteed exchange rates and at any time.
Universal Air Travel Plan Inc. and NxSystems Inc. teamed to deliver voucher prepaid debit cards with multicurrency and split-tender options for its airline partners. "Our product offers consumers a fast, easy method of payment while reducing the risk of fraud to airlines and lowering the cost of distribution - a win-win solution," said Scott Amon, President of NxSystems.
Global Payments Inc. signed an agreement to sell its money transfer business to an affiliate of Palladium Equity Partners LLC. Global Payments will receive between $85 and $110 million, depending on the operating performance at time of closing. According to Paul R. Garcia, Global Payments' Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, the proceeds from the sale will be reinvested in future merchant acquiring growth opportunities.
The Western Union Co. promoted Hikmet Ersek to Chief Operating Officer from his position as Vice President and Managing Director for Europe, the Middle East, Africa and the Asia Pacific region. In his new role, Ersek will be responsible for all of Western Union's business units, globally, in addition to the company's operations and marketing functions.
Gil Verner joined Omni Prepaid LLC as its Creative Director to expand and progressively develop both the aesthetics and usability of all vertical channels under Omni's Wolfe.com umbrella.
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