Industry News

   MasterCard will lower the effective interchange rate on its consumer debit programs in the U.S. region by one-third, effective Aug 1.
   This reduction in debit interchange is in accordance with the settlement of the class action lawsuit brought against MasterCard and Visa by merchants in the U.S. The new consumer debit card interchange rate structure will consist of a Supermarket/Warehouse rate; a Convenience rate and an All Other rate.
   At the same time, the U.S. Board approved increases in certain consumer credit and corporate interchange rates to address an existing competitive disadvantage. These new rates also become effective Aug. 1. In broad terms, MasterCard's consumer credit card and corporate card interchange rates will each increase by approximately 1%, or an estimated 2 basis points.
   iPayment, an ISO based in Nashville, Tenn., sold 5 million shares at $16 per share on May 12, raising a total of $80 million. By early June, the stock price had soared to more than $23 per share.
   As of December 31, 2002, the company provided services to approximately 56,000 active small merchants located across the United States. The small merchants we serve typically generate less than $250,000 of charge volume per year and have an average transaction value of approximately $75.
   Visa U.S.A. and MasterCard International could view a combined Star and NYCE electronic funds transfer network as a competing national brand, First Data Corp. notes in a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing today.
   The result, according to First Data, could be potential Visa and MasterCard bans on the coexistence of Star and NYCE marks on association members' branded cards, according to First Data's filing. That's because both Visa and MasterCard have rules prohibiting member financial institutions from issuing payment cards branded with competing national marks other than each other's. The filing reveals First Data's percieved risks in regard to its planned acquisition of Concord EFS Inc., which owns Star. First Data is NYCE's majority owner. "If this occurred, we cannot predict whether, when forced to choose between Star and other brands, issuing banks would favor Star over Visa or MasterCard," the report notes. "Further, the combined company could lose access to the Visa or MasterCard network and cardholders, which could adversely affect elements of our business, such as ATM transactions, personal identification number secured and signature debit transactions, credit card transactions, operating results and financial condition." Visa's and MasterCard's exclusionary rules were struck down by a federal trial court in 2001. Both card associations on May 8 defended the policies before the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York. The court has yet to rule on their appeal of the lower court's decision.
   Paycom Billing Services, Inc., an Internet Payment Service Provider, processing credit card and check transactions for Internet merchants, filed a multi-million dollar lawsuit in May in Federal Court in Los Angeles against MasterCard International for antitrust violations, fraud and other issues.
   Paycom's suit alleges that MasterCard has established monopolistic rules that allow it unreasonable discretion to dominate Internet merchants, and it has exercised this power to illegally impose fines and penalties in the millions of dollars.
   Former Federal Prosecutors for the US Department of Justice, William McD. Miller and Richard P. Crane, Jr. of the Los Angeles law firm Musick, Peeler & Garrett LLP and Dennis M. P. Ehling, filed the lawsuit on behalf of the plaintiff.
   Kurant Corp., and Paradata Systems recently partnered to create an integrated, electronic business solution for small and mid-market enterprises in Canada to sell goods via the Internet.
   The first joint program Kurant and Paradata will offer is a special promotion for users of QuickBooks Premier 2003 Retail Edition. Upon purchasing this newly released custom edition of QuickBooks, users receive a free 30-day trial of StoreSense Standard Edition, offered in the Canadian market through Paradata.
   The integration will enable businesses to manage their entire sales process with one implementation, with direct transfer of transaction information directly into a merchant's back-end accounting system.
   Interlink Electronics, Inc. recently unveiled ePad-i.d. an e-signature and thumbprint input device.
   Using Interlink's patented technology, ePadi.d. captures handwritten signatures and fingerprint biometrics for document automation and security access applications. An integrated USB port also allows connection of digital cameras and smartcard readers. Software developer kits for integration of electronic signatures and fingerprint biometrics are available.
   Secure Payment Systems, San Diego, Calif., recently developed a strategic alliance with US Merchant Services to offer its check guarantee services. USMS will offer SPS check guarantee processing to all new and existing retailers through their extensive number of ISOs. US Merchant Services will add SPS check guarantee services including their unique 'PayDay' program, offering a 90 days same as cash payment option.
   Secure Payment Systems also announced a 48% volume increase in for the first four months of 2003 as compared to the same period last year.
   MasterCard International' "contactless" payment initiative, MasterCard PayPass continues to build momentum. The Orlando, Florida MasterCard PayPass market trial has 16,000 cardholders and nearly 60 merchant locations participating. Additionally, MasterCard recently began working with Nokia to incorporate MasterCard PayPass into mobile phones.
   A Nokia market trial currently taking place with retailers in the Dallas, Tex. area allows consumers to tap or wave their phone to make payments simpler.
   McDonald's drive-thru customers in North Babylon, N.Y. can use their American Express cards at the restaurants' Hypercom terminals.
   Research shows that per customer sales are typically higher at the drive-thru when customers can use a credit card.
   PRE Solutions, Inc. recently acquired Innovative Solutions, Inc., making PRE Solutions the largest provider of prepaid solutions in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
   The acquisition gives PRE Solutions more than 50 percent of the prepaid market share on the islands. PRE Solutions' services are provided in all 78 municipalities of Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
   CashWorks Inc., the Houston provider of automated ATM check-cashing services, has launched a "check-to-card" product that allows payroll check values to be loaded on prepaid debit cards using CashWorks' PayPort product. PayPort uses point-of-sale terminals to register and identify check cashers and ATMs at the same location to dispense cash. The new card can be cobranded with retailers and is loaded with value at the retail locations where CashWorks is offered, according to CashWorks CEO, Ken Reese.
   CashWorks, Inc., also recently added two new distributors in order to meet the growing demand for its payroll and government check cashing solution. The distributor relationships with ATM Express, Inc. and National Link, Inc. will help CashWorks expand availability of its system and patent pending technology to merchants across the country.
   CardinalCommerce Corporation and Fifth Third Bank recently signed an agreement to provide Fifth Third online merchants with CardinalCommerce's payment authentication software, Cardinal Centinel.
   CardinalCommerce will enable MasterCardR SecureCode and Verified by Visa to authenticate cardholders during online transactions at participating merchants.
   Cardinal Centinel is designed for financial institutions, merchant service providers and their merchants. Fifth Third Bank processes 8.2 billion ATM and POS transactions per year for more than 185,000 retail locations and financial institutions worldwide.
   North American Bancard, one of the industry's largest payment solutions providers, has introduced a comprehensive health care program for its agent partners.
   The NAB Health Benefits Plan encompasses medical, dental, vision, life and long term care insurance. Participants can pick and choose the type of coverage that suits their individual needs. In true partnership fashion, North American Bancard pays 50% of the premium. The other half is paid by the participating agent through an automatic deduction from the participant's monthly residual earnings. In addition to individual coverage, the plan also offers options for extended coverage to family members with the added cost for family benefits paid by the agent.
   Eligibility is determined by number of merchant accounts. Each participating agent must have 30 active merchant accounts to enroll in the NAB Health Benefits Plan and sign a minimum of 30 new approved merchants per quarter to maintain eligibility.
   Financial Stored Value Payment Systems Ltd. and ATM National, operator of Allpoint, a nationwide network of 23,000 surcharge-free ATM recently signed an agreement providing surcharge-free ATM transactions for Fiserv and FSV payroll debit card programs.
   Fiserv offers its payroll debit card program through a relationship with FSV Payment Systems.
   "With the growing interest in payroll debit cards, there also has been growing concern by employers on how to meet necessary free-and-clear compliance issues," said Jackie Binks, Fiserv Bank Servicing Group vice president of business development. "This agreement solves that problem."
   A unit of the company, Fiserv Credit Processing Services, recently surpassed the 10-million mark in the number of customer accounts on file. Fiserv Credit Processing Services manages accounts receivable processing for major credit issuers, including John Deere Credit and Shoppers charge accounts.
   Klatu Inc., and First Atlantic Commerce Ltd., recently released a new B2B electronic commerce platform specifically designed for the Latin America and Caribbean based value added resellers of Tech Data and Ingram Micro products throughout the region. CNET Channel, a subsidiary of CNET Networks, Inc.
   CNET and its DataSource service provide the multilingual content and image data required to effectively display and facilitate searches and comparisons on product specifications for the items carried by both Ingram Micro Inc. and Tech Data Corporation CNET Networks, Inc.
   Outsourcing is a trend on the rise among financial institutions seeking to expand their ATM reach, according to global accounting firm Grant Thornton.
   "There is a lot of capital involved in establishing and maintaining just one ATM. On average, large banks pay $1,500 per ATM, per month, and small banks $1,100. There has to be a return on investment to justify the expenditure," says David Long, an assurance partner with Grant Thornton's Houston office.
   Faced with daunting competition in the ATM market, and the need to provide customers with economical automated banking options, some community banks are looking to banking alliances and third-party suppliers to expand the reach of their ATM networks.
   The trend of non-bank ATM operators and facilitators has also been on the rise. With 350,000 ATMs in the United States, 250,000 are in non-bank locations, and 150,000 of these ATMs are owned by non-financial companies.
   MasterCard International recently modified a membership rule to facilitate formation of the first national surcharge-free ATM alliance among participating financial institutions. Cirrus card issuers and Cirrus ATM acquirer financial institutions will be permitted to form bilateral or multilateral agreements allowing cash withdrawals through the Cirrus/MasterCard ATM network in the United States, without the imposition of an access fee on the cardholder transaction.
   The rule change is in answer to member input requesting surcharge-free functionality as a competitive enhancement to the Cirrus U.S. program. MasterCard research indicates that SFAs are attractive to financial institutions as a means to expand demand deposit account accessibility for ATM/debit cardholders beyond the localized boundaries of a singular proprietary ATM network.
   Plug and Pay Technologies, Inc. has partnered with Quikstor and CardReady Intl. to provide secure transactions in a retail environment over the Internet.
   This marks the first time that Plug & Pay has carried a retail transaction that has originated with an established point of sale of a major retail customer. Quikstor and CardReady Intl. selected Plug & Pay for the integration process and all three companies have worked together to bring this innovative new way of processing credit card sales to the market.
   Total Merchant Services recently unveiled a new Web site,, which provides ISOs with all of the information they need on the company.
   The website details the upfront bonus program, the residual income pay plan options, the free services, the underwriting guidelines and documentation requirements, the leasing program and the equipment vendor programs. It gives sales partners the ability to register online or submit a request to have someone contact them. Once registered, sales partners gain access to Total Merchant Services' online registration area and online application documents area.
   National Processing Company, LLC, in June acquired Bridgeview Payment Solutions fir $32.3 million. National Processing estimated that the transaction would generate approximately $20 million in annual revenue and would have minimal impact to its earnings for the remainder of 2003.
   BPS processes for 28,000 merchants, generating approximately $1.0 billion in credit card sales in 2002. BPS was signing 1,500 new merchant accounts per month through a network of ISOs and agents.