NOVA Information Systems recently acquired SouthTrust Bank’s existing payment processing portfolio from Wachovia Bank and has simultaneously renewed and extended a long-term marketing alliance agreement for Wachovia Bank’s merchant referral business.
    NOVA acquired SouthTrust’s merchant processing accounts and will provide processing services, customer service and support operations to SouthTrust’s existing 16,000 merchants. New merchant services referrals will be marketed through Wachovia Bank’s 3,100 branches located throughout Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, the District of Columbia, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and Texas.
   The credit and debit card processing volume from the existing SouthTrust portfolio is expected to generate an additional $2.3 billion annually. Wachovia Bank’s parent company, Wachovia Corporation, completed its acquisition of SouthTrust Bank and its parent company, SouthTrust Corporation, in November 2004.
    MasterCard announced new interchange rates for merchants in the MasterCard SecureCode program, with the rates going into effect on or around Oct. 1, 2005, right before the holiday shopping season.
    The new interchange rates will apply differently for MasterCard credit cards and MasterCard debit cards.
    For credit cards, the interchange rate for merchants (Merit 1) not participating in SecureCode will increase by 5 basis points, from 1.90 percent plus 10 cents per transaction to 1.95 percent plus 10 cents per transaction.
    On the other hand, fully authenticated SecureCode credit card transactions will see a lower interchange rate, dropping to 1.73 percent plus 10 cents per transaction, a difference of 22 basis points from the higher rate.
    For MasterCard debit cards, the interchange rate for merchants (Merit 1) not participating in SecureCode will remain at 1.64 percent plus 16 cents per transaction. For fully authenticated SecureCode debit card transactions, the interchange rate will drop to 1.15 percent plus 15 cents per transaction, a difference of 49 basis points and 1 cent per transactions.
    Dallas-based TransFirst, has been ranked as the nation’s fifth largest deployer of point-of-sale terminals according to Thomson Media’s Card Source One 2005, a statistical resource guide for the credit card, debit card and electronic transaction markets.
    The 2005 ranking was based on the number of deployed terminals from Dec. 31, 2002 to Dec. 31, 2003. During this time, TransFirst deployed more than 89,000 point-of-sale terminals to its customer base.
    TransFirst, the largest privately-held transaction processor and the 12th largest in the United States, currently processes approximately $21 billion in annual sales volume for more than 150,000 merchants throughout the United States.
    Devix Group, an online retail solution provider, will use the Cardinal Centine software technology to provide its customers Verified by Visa and MasterCard SecureCode.
    Devix Group has successfully integrated Cardinal Centinel for Beach Trading Co., ( a leading online electronics store.
    PassMark Security recently unveiled the Internet’s first two-factor authentication system that requires no hardware tokens. The capabilities are available in a new version of the PassMark Two-Factor Two-Way System.
    The technology is designed to combat the recent surge of phishing, spoofing, spyware, keylogging and other Internet attacks that has have rendered passwords insufficient for the protection of online financial transactions.
    As the name implies, two-factor authentication adds a second security method, typically “something you have”, to the standard practice of requiring a password to log in to a Web site. Conventional two-factor systems require the user to carry a smart card, key fob or other special hardware, making them impractical for mass-market consumer Web sites.
   The company also announced that Stanford Federal Credit Union (SFCU) has implemented the two-way authentication system.
   Always an industry leader, SFCU was the first financial institution to enable financial transactions over the Internet, and today it is the first to launch the PassMark system.
    First Data Corp.’s STAR Network recently completed an agreement with Winston-Salem, N.C.- based BB&T; Corporation for BB&T; to participate in STAR CHEK Direct, STAR’s direct check debit and verification service.
    BB&T; will use STAR CHEK Direct to help reduce its check fraud losses and processing costs, streamline check processing administration and generate income.
    STAR CHEK Direct offers real-time, standalone direct verification of funds availability via the consumer’s DDA account, as well as real-time check debit. While the check debit service is available for both retail point-of-sale transactions and telephone and Internet bill payments, the verification service can also be used to help assess risk with other payment systems – such as for processing paper checks or ACH eChecks.
    Global Axcess Corp.’s “ATMs-Made-Easy” program has enjoyed significant growth in the first nine months of the programs existence.
    The program started in April 2004 with approximately 61 ATMs in operation. Since that time 225 merchants have added Global Axcess ATMs or processing services in the “ATMs Made Easy" program; an increase of 369 percent.
    ATMS-Made-Easy is a series of comprehensive, turnkey ATM programs whereby Global Axcess supplies retailers and qualified distributors with ATMs lease-to-own programs and certified processing for those who already own ATMs.
    Global Axcess Corp. also announced that it has signed a five-year contract extension to provide electronic transaction processing and a three-year contract to provide financial institution branding services to Ronald Harman Associates, an independent ATM operator with approximately 130 ATM terminals in the mid-Atlantic states.
    Global Axcess’ subsidiaries, EFT Integration, Inc. and Nationwide Money Services, Inc., will provide all transaction processing, cash management and branding services for the Harman ATMs with local community banks and credit unions. Harman ATMs are primarily located in convenience stores and merchant locations.
    Pay By Touch has acquired a new patent portfolio including U.S.-issued patents for biometric authentication for check-cashing services.
    The newly acquired portfolio adds to the company's more than two-dozen issued U.S. patents.
    Another company, BioPay, which had unsuccessfully sought to purchase the newly acquired patent portfolio, recently filed suit in the federal district court in Delaware seeking a declaration that its business does not infringe Pay By Touch's newly acquired patent. Biometric authentication of check-cashing services is a self-described key area of business for BioPay.
    BioPay has also asked the court to declare that it is not infringing another of Pay By Touch's more than two-dozen U.S.- issued patents. BioPay filed its lawsuit when Pay By Touch successfully acquired the new patent portfolio.
    CrossCheck, Inc. recently signed an agreement with Heartland Payment Systems, Inc., to provide check authorization services, including electronic check conversion, to Heartland as part of Heartland's suite of payment services for merchants.
    Using CrossCheck's authorization services, Heartland will be enable merchants the convenience and safety of accepting low-numbered, out-of-town, even out-of-state checks. Heartland's check conversion service offers check conversion at the point-of-sale and delivers funds directly to the merchant's account. Merchants benefit because they can consolidate bank accounts, streamline operations and reduce paper handling.
    WAY Systems, Inc. GCG Consulting, Inc., together successfully deployed dozens of WAY Systems’ secure mobile phone POS devices to Fiesta Bowl merchants for the January 1, 2005 Pittsburgh vs. Utah game.
    Days before and during the bowl game, merchants processed over $80,000 in sales over WAY Systems’ easy-to-use mobile credit card solution, which operates securely over General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) carrier networks.
    The online reporting and local support from GCG Consulting along with WAY’s MTT proved to be a profitable combination for bowl merchants who benefited from increased sales of various game and team related merchandise.
    United Bank Card Inc. recently ordered $2.5 million of Lipman Engineering Inc.’s NURIT 8320 desktop point-of-sales terminals. The devices were to be delivered by the end of the first quarter.
    Retriever Payment Systems and Iron Triangle Payment Systems, LLC joined forces at the beginning of the year.
    Retriever is a leading processor of credit card and other point-of-sale payments serving more than 95,000 merchants and processing approximately $8 billion in annual volume. ITPS was formed in 2003 by Tom Wimsett, former president and CEO of National Processing Company.
    Retriever will become a subsidiary of ITPS. Retriever's existing investors, including CEO Bill Higgins and other members of management, have converted their ownership of Retriever into securities of ITPS. All members of Retriever's existing senior management team will remain with the company, which will continue to operate as Retriever Payment Systems. Both Retriever and ITPS are portfolio companies of GTCR Golder Rauner, LLC.
    TSYS has signed an agreement to purchase the 50 percent equity stake that Visa U.S.A. holds in Vital Processing Services.
    Following the closing of the transaction, Vital will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of TSYS.
    The purchase of the remaining 50 percent interest in Vital provides TSYS greater synergies for its clients that services merchants who accept cards as payments and issue credit to their customers, according to TSYS officials. Vital is the second-largest processor of merchant accounts in the United States, serving more than 1 million merchant locations.
    Formed in 1996 as a joint venture between Visa U.S.A. and TSYS, Vital specializes in turn-key alternatives for acquirers that outsource their merchant business. Beverly Wells will remain the president, a position she has held since 2003.