• Global IT supplier IBM is providing
Nationlink Network of the Philippines with
technology to enhance Nationlink’s ATM network and information
infrastructure…

• Bahrain’s BMI Bank and Geant
Hypermarket
have launched their new co-branded credit card
– La Carte…

• Venezuela’s Banco Guayana has installed a
secure ATM key management system from US-based Trusted
Security Solutions

• Dutch bank ING and
MasterCard are to pilot a near field
communications (NFC)-based mobile payments system in Romania…

 

Asia-Pacific

HSBC has launched debit cards in China and
has entered into a bilateral co-operation agreement with Chinese
national card network China UnionPay (CUP) that
will enable HSBC’s Chinese cardholders to access CUP’s domestic and
overseas networks in about 50 countries and territories. The
companies said the combined HSBC-CUP network offers the most
extensive ATM access for a debit card issued by any foreign bank in
mainland China. HSBC China’s debit cards, now launched in 17
mainland Chinese cities, are able to link with up to three HSBC
China accounts, including a renminbi account and up to two foreign
currency accounts.

China Postal Savings Bank has signed a
multi-year credit card processing deal with China UnionPay
Data Services
(CUP Data). China Postal Savings Bank holds
more than $200 billion in deposits and has more than 36,000
branches throughout the country. CUP Data is a joint venture
between China UnionPay and US-based payment processor TSYS, which
bought a 34 percent equity stake in the payments processor in 2005.
TSYS has since upped its stake and now holds 44.5 percent.

• Global IT supplier IBM is providing
Nationlink Network of the Philippines with
technology to enhance Nationlink’s ATM network and information
infrastructure. The move is in line with the electronic financial
and payment network solutions provider’s strategy to bring
financial services to the untapped and underserved citizens in
remote areas of the country.

Zoilo Jesus M Dela Cruz III, co-founder of Nationlink Network,
said: “More than 80 percent of Filipinos are under-serviced, and
have to travel long distances to reach a banking facility. We need
to enable the delivery of modern financial, banking, and payment
services to a vast underserved market.”

Transglobal Beneficial, a US-based provider
of health care solutions, has launched India Health
Card
(IHC), a prepaid health care card designed to provide
access to health services for non-resident Indian (NRI)
beneficiaries through a network of health care providers across
India.

NRIs are required to load funds onto the card through the
internet and then use it to receive health care services from
health care providers in India. About 30 million Indians live
abroad, and according to a recent World Bank report, India is the
top recipient of migrant remittances in 2007, receiving $27
billion. However, only 5 percent of NRI remittances at present goes
towards health care-related costs.

• A new mobile payment system has been launched in the
Philippines enabling consumers to make low-value payments with
their mobile phone. The system has been developed by New Zealand’s
Fronde Anywhere, a subsidiary of Fronde Systems
Group, and UK IT supplier Logica for i
Can, a new player in the Philippines owned by the
Thailand-based TAO Group. i Can’s new service allows mobile phone
users to pay for purchases directly from their handset, as long as
they belong to one of two participating banks, Bancnet and BPI.
Other banks are set to come on board in the near future.

Citibank in Indonesia has launched a
contactless payment card and associated social networking site for
young professionals. The Citi Clear card supports Visa payWave
contactless technology for purchases to the value of IDR200,000
($16.86) and under. Larger value purchases are conducted via the
traditional swipe and sign transaction process. The associated
social networking website is billed as a lifestyle portal, offering
online messaging, blogging, photo uploading and other services
appealing to Indonesia’s youth market and promoting Citi Clear
reward packages.

Visa has formed a payments processing joint
venture with India-based Yalamanchili Software
Exports
in a bid to tap into developing regions like
Asia-Pacific and Latin America. Visa holds a controlling interest
in Visa Processing Service (VPS), which is
headquartered in Singapore. Initially, the joint venture will focus
on providing financial institutions, processors and other payment
companies with prepaid and debit processing. However it will also
offer credit, ATM, money transfer and private-label processing, as
well as a range of payments services, including risk and fraud
management, mobile applications, loyalty and cardholder
support.

• Cambodia’s first US-owned bank, Angkor Capital
Bank
, has launched operations in the country, bringing the
number of foreign-owned banks in Cambodia to 25. Chea Chanto,
governor of the National Bank of Cambodia, the
country’s central bank, said that the launch would strengthen
US-Cambodian ties and that the increase in foreign-owned banks
demonstrates confidence in the local banking sector. The bank will
initially offer deposit accounts, commercial and individual loans,
ATM services, and trade financing with innovative features. The
bank also plans to launch a debit and credit card in the future,
accompanied by full-service online banking.

• UK-headquartered banking group Barclays and
TimesofMoney of India have partnered to launch an
online remittance service that enables the bank’s UK customers to
send money to India. Barclays Online Money Transfer, based on
technology from payments and remittance service provider
TimesofMoney, is targeted at the bank’s large non-resident Indian
customer base. The service will enable customers in the UK to send
payments of between £250 ($375) and £3,000 online directly to any
Barclays account anywhere in India. The service will be extended in
the near future to customers in other countries who wish to send
money to India.

Malaysia Airlines, the national carrier of
Malaysia, has opted for payment solutions from German payment
solution provider Wirecard to handle its online
airline ticket sales. Last year, Malaysia Airlines and its fleet of
90 aircraft carried some 14 million passengers to 100
destinations.

Malaysia Airlines senior general manager Dr Amin Khan said:
“Wirecard products and services support Malaysian Airlines to
significantly improve our financial operations on a global
scale.”

• The State Bank of Vietnam, the country’s
central bank, has turned down a proposal from the Vietnam
Bank Card Association
to collect fees from customers for
ATM transactions. According to the central bank, the country’s
current payment infrastructure and ATM services rendered the plan
unsuitable. Earlier this year, the Vietnam Bank Card Association
had proposed collecting ATM transaction fees starting from December
2008.

• South Korea’s Hyundai Card, a financial unit
of Hyundai Motor Group, is to get unsecured loans of around $85.8
million from one of the largest Japanese banks. The loan will
mature in 12 months, the company said in a statement jointly issued
by its sister company Hyundai Capital. Hyundai
Capital also secured a $50 million credit line extension by the
same Japanese bank, the statement said, although it did not name
the bank.

 

Europe, Middle East, Africa

• Banks in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are
set to introduce biometric iris scanning technology at ATMs,
following a recent surge in ATM fraud across the UAE. In September
banks across the UAE were forced to send customers text messages
urging them to change their PIN numbers following a spate of
fraudulent ATM withdrawals. The UAE’s Ministry of Interior has now
reached an agreement with the UAE Central Bank and
other banks in the country to roll out iris scanning technology in
a bid to put an end to ATM fraud.

• Bahrain’s BMI Bank and Geant
Hypermarket
have launched their new co-branded credit card
– La Carte – offering customers a range of benefits including a
loyalty programme with rewards, a low monthly interest rate, no
annual fees, and a 50-day interest-free period on all retail
purchases with exclusive discounts and special offers. La Carte is
the latest addition to the BMI card range, which includes classic
and gold cards, as well as Sapphire and Diners Club cards for its
premier and corporate clients.

• Under a co-operation agreement, Jordan’s Ministry of
Planning and International Cooperation
(MoPIC) and the
International Finance Corporation (IFC) will work
in partnership to strengthen the legal framework for credit
information sharing in the country. IFC will work with the Ministry
to draft and adopt new legislation to regulate the sharing of
credit information, and raise awareness of stakeholders about
credit reporting. IFC will share its global and regional experience
in promoting credit bureaus, describe international best practice
in credit information reporting systems, and discuss the benefits
of credit information sharing in Jordan.

• Nigeria-based United Bank for Africa (UBA) is
rolling out fraud and anti-money laundering (AML) technology from
payment solutions provider Actimize across 700
retail distribution centres in the country. The bank has signed for
the Actimize Risk Management platform and Enterprise Risk Case
Manager to help it detect and mitigate employee, electronic payment
and ATM and debit fraud, as well as money laundering. The
deployment will be split into two phases over several months.
Nigeria has gained a reputation as a haven for fraud, but many of
its banks have looked to combat the problem by installing new
systems.

• UK digital money specialist Ukash is
launching in South Africa as it looks to tap into the country’s
large unbanked population. South Africans can now buy Ukash
vouchers from terminals within the network of Blue Label Telecoms
distribution channels. Explaining the decision to enter the market,
Ukash cites 2007 research from Finscope suggesting 40 percent of
South Africans are unbanked.

Barclaycard is preparing to boost its
investment in contactless card technology after issuing 1 million
contactless cards in the UK. The technology is currently available
on the Barclaycard OnePulse card and the cards recently issued to
Goldfish and Morgan Stanley customers. In addition, the bank says
all newly issued Barclaycard Platinum cards will now include
contactless technology. Barclays has also signed a deal with UK
high street food chain Pret A Manger, which plans
to introduce the technology across its 178-strong national store
network over the next six months.

Barclays says 6,000 outlets now accept contactless payments
throughout the UK, including high street retailers Coffee Republic,
EAT and Yo! Sushi and thousands of local independents such as dry
cleaners, shoe shops, leisure centres and bookshops.

• Online payments outfit Neovia Financial
(formerly Neteller) has agreed to buy the European prepaid payment
services division of IDT Corporation in a cash
deal worth £10 million ($14.9 million). The deal is for the entire
issued share capital of IDT Financial Services Holdings and certain
other assets. Neovia will pay a total cash consideration of $15.05
million, including $10 million of banking regulatory capital.
Founded in 2006, IDT provides prepaid MasterCard products across
Europe, including the UK market under the IDT Prime Card brand. By
combining it with the Neovia Net+ card services, Neovia said the
deal would create one of Europe’s largest independent prepaid card
businesses.

• Global mobile payments specialist Dialogue
Communications
has launched its mobile billing services in
Norway and Sweden to allow consumers to buy products and services
over mobile internet channels. According to Dialogue, Norway and
Sweden are two of the most highly saturated mobile markets in the
world and represent a significant opportunity for Dialogue and
mobile internet shops. Norway and Sweden have a combined population
of 14 million and mobile penetration is predicted to reach an
estimated 122.5 percent by 2010.

• Dutch bank ING and
MasterCard are to pilot a near field
communications (NFC)-based mobile payments system in Romania,
enabling customers to use their handsets to pay for low-value
purchases. The bank says about 500 clients will be given Nokia 6212
handsets incorporating NFC technology for the first stage of the
six-month pilot, enabling them to make payments by tapping their
phones against specially equipped terminals at around 30 merchants
in Bucharest.

As well as making contactless payments, participants will be
able to top up their Maestro PayPass account balance over the air
to their phone with a special code. The Romanian pilot is the first
since ING and MasterCard outlined their plans to develop the system
in February.

Visa has launched the UK’s first internet
shopping prepaid gift card. The £25 ($37) 3V Visa Internet Shopping
gift card can be bought over the counter at major high street
retailers and comes in four different designs. It can be used to
shop online, through mail order or over the telephone, wherever
Visa is accepted. Cards are activated online and the recipient is
issued with a unique number and three-digit security code, which
are entered at the check-out. The cash value on the cards is backed
by UK bank Alliance & Leicester.

• French mobile operators Orange,
SFR and Bouygues Telecom have
teamed with eight major retail chains in the country to form a
working group dedicated to contactless m-payments systems at the
point of sale. The Ergosum project will work towards a contactless
payment system using international near field communication (NFC)
standards and implementation specifications found in SIM cards. The
group says it wants contactless payments systems that work with all
handsets, operators and retail chains. They should also apply to
various services such as bank and loyalty cards and discount
coupons, as well as be compatible with existing electronic money
systems. The technology must also be coherent with the Payez Mobile
system, developed by Orange, SFR and Bouygues Telecom with seven of
the country’s major banks.

 

Latin America

Banco de Mexico, the Central Bank of Mexico,
says that in the quarter to 30 June 2008 there were 26.5 million
credit cards in issue and 54.7 million debit cards in issue in
Mexico. However, only 18.5 million credit cards and 29.1 million
debit cards out of the total credit and debit cards in issue were
actually used in that quarter. In the quarter to 31 March 2008,
there were 26.2 million credit cards in issue and 51.8 million
debit cards in issue in the country.

In the quarter to 30 June 2008, there were a total of 313.4
million ATM transactions in Mexico, up from 308.7 million in the
previous quarter. Total point of sale card transactions rose to
194.8 million in the June quarter from 189.8 million in the March
2008 quarter.

• A survey by US data security firm RSA of 164
Latin American businesses in early 2008 found that only 46 percent
of the respondents’ companies stored credit card data on their
systems in encrypted form. A further 49 percent said they did not
use any encryption for card data stored on their computers. Most
(81 percent) of the survey respondents said they complied with the
PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) requirement
that merchants must not store full magnetic stripe data for cards
on their systems. In addition, 83 percent said that they never
stored CVV (Card Verification Value) codes.

• Latin Americans living in the US are keen to carry out
cross-border money transfers using cell phones instead of
traditional methods such as convenience stores, according to a
survey by m-payments firm Upaid. The majority of
survey respondents (61 percent) said they spend over $75 a month on
fees and commissions associated with cross-border payments.
Two-thirds of those who transfer money via a store find it
expensive, particularly those sending money to Uruguay, Haiti,
Belize and Aruba. Nearly three quarters of all those interviewed
told Upaid that they wanted to use cell phones to make money
transfers in the future.

Banco do Brasil is offering improved terms
for the working capital line of credit it offers to merchants who
deposit their credit card receivables from Brazilian acquirers
Visanet and Redenet with the
bank. Merchants can now repay their loans in 24 monthly repayments,
which compares to 12 monthly repayments for those retailers who
only deposit their Visanet receivables with BB. In addition,
merchants who deposit both Visanet and Redenet receivables with BB
have 59 days to make their first repayment to the bank. Merchants
can also borrow up to eight times their monthly average Visa card
transaction volume, subject to a credit check and to their Redecard
transactions corresponding to at least 35 percent of their total
Visanet volume. Redenet is Brazil’s MasterCard and Diners card
acquirer.

• Venezuela’s Banco Guayana has installed a
secure ATM key management system from US-based Trusted
Security Solutions
. The A98 system enables banks to
remotely load ATM encryption keys on their ATMs without needing to
send maintenance staff to individual ATMs. Banco Guayana has around
100 ATMs on its network.

• US Visa and MasterCard prepaid card issuer
MiCash has launched a reloadable prepaid card that
enables cardholders to make card-to-card or card-to-cash money
transfers worldwide. For a flat fee, users can carry out transfers
from their card to a recipient for pick up at any of 12,000
Bancomer Transfer Services offices in markets such
as Mexico, South and Central America, India, the Philippines and
China.

Banco do Brasil (BB) has launched a card for
Brazilian exporters and importers that functions as a combined
credit and debit card as well as a bank account-to-account funds
transfer card. The Ourocard Comércio Exterior card contains a
digital certificate in its chip, which enables the card to be used
to digitally sign contracts over the internet, without the need for
a paper signature.

• Caribbean card acquirer Rahaxi has signed an
agreement to provide multi-currency cross-border payments
processing services to Pure Commerce. In return,
Pure Commerce, an Australian-based dynamic currency conversion
(DCC) specialist, will supply a treasury facility for Rahaxi’s
customers. Dublin, Ireland-based Rahaxi, which was formerly known
as FreeStar Technology (see CI 411), says the deal with Pure
Commerce will help it to expand in the Caribbean and Latin America
by offering DCC services in the region.

Rahaxi currently provides acquiring services in the Dominican
Republic, Haiti and in Europe. DCC involves allowing cross-border
card transactions to be charged in the customer’s own currency,
instead of the merchant’s.

• Caribbean financial services group Republic
Bank
is rolling out Fortent’s
anti-money-laundering and financial crime prevention software. The
Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago-based bank is using the
software, which includes transaction management and
know-your-customer verification, across all of its major lines of
business including retail banking, credit card services, electronic
banking, and wire transfers.

• Canada’s Scotiabank says that its
international card revenues rose by 11 percent year-on-year in the
year to 31 October 2008 due to strong growth in Peru, the Caribbean
and Mexico. Its Canadian card revenues were up 6 percent
year-on-year, due mainly to higher transaction volumes. Scotiabank
says its Mexican subsidiary had strong retail loan growth in fiscal
2008, but was hit by increased loan losses, particularly in credit
cards.

PayPal has launched a localised website in
Mexico that enables its Mexican customers to buy and sell online
using Mexican pesos. Mexican consumers can use the site to make
purchases online using their credit cards or bank accounts.

In addition, PayPal has introduced new PayPal domains for 18
countries, including Argentina, Chile, Hungary, India, the
Philippines, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Venezuela.
Customers in these countries can access PayPal via a dedicated
country domain that displays relevant PayPal information and
products available in that country.

• US card payments and ATM software vendor
Postilion has won four new contracts in Venezuela
and Bolivia. The new clients are Venezuelan financial institutions
Micasa, Banco Corp Banca, and
BancoBanorte, as well as Bolivia’s Banco
Mercantil Santa Cruz
. Postilion now has 32 clients across
11 Latin American countries.

Micasa, a credit union in the process of converting to a bank,
will use Postilion’s ATM software to drive 150 ATMs. Banco Corp
Banca, which was recently acquired by Banco Occidental de Descuento
Venezuela, is using Postilion to replace its legacy payments
platform and to interface with American Express and Consorcio
Credicard, a Venezuelan card network. Banco Banorte is deploying
Postilion’s software to drive 10,000 POS terminals across
Venezuela. Banco Mercantil Santa Cruz is using Postilion to drive
150 ATMs.

 

North America

• The US credit card market will follow the mortgage market into
decline, Oppenheimer & Co. analyst Meredith
Whitney says. Led by Bank of America, Citi and JPMorgan Chase,
credit card issuers will withdraw $2 trillion in consumer lines of
credit over the next 18 months. Consumer liquidity, already hit by
job losses, will be further eroded by this 45 percent drop in
credit card lines of credit, Whitney says.

She also believes the $110 billion worth of funds made available
to US banks under the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) will be
used to plug holes in banks’ balance sheets. This is because new
accounting rules will require credit card and other risky debt to
be moved back onto bank balance sheets. Consequently, banks will
need more capital to cover potential loan losses and to protect
customer deposits. If they are to expand their card lending, banks
will need to raise yet more capital, Whitney says.

• Internet PIN debit payments firm Acculynk
(formerly called ATM Direct) expects to publicly announce
partnership deals with two US EFT (electronic funds transfer)
networks in January 2009. Acculynk has signed partnership deals
with four EFT networks in total for its PaySecure service, but so
far has only been able to name one of the networks, US processor
Fiserv’s ACCEL/Exchange. Trials of PaySecure will start in January
2009 involving Acculynk’s EFT partners and four US online merchants
with sales ranging from $15 million to $250 million.

Danielle Duclos, Acculynk’s director of marketing, tells CI:
“We’ve partnered with three acquirers, Elavon, Merchant e-Solutions
and UATP,” she says. “Also, we’ve started discussing strategic
partnerships with non-card-based online payment firms such as
Moneta.”

Debit cardholders shopping at a PaySecure-accepting website
enter their PIN on Acculynk’s software-only graphical, scrambling
PIN-pad, which appears on their PC screen at check-out. The PIN is
then encrypted and, along with the customer’s card information, is
processed through a participating EFT network.

• While some US households are experiencing vanishing credit
lines, others still have access to high amounts of credit,
Synovate Mail Monitor says. For the first three
quarters of 2008, credit lines across all credit cards rose to an
average of $27,626 per household from $26,902 in 2007.

In 2008, US households received 4.2 billion credit card offers,
down 20 percent from 5.2 billion offers in 2007. Most of the 1
billion drop in offers – 722.6 million – affected households with
annual income of less than $50,000. The card issuers that cut back
solicitations most in the third quarter of 2008 versus a year ago
were HSBC (-70 percent), Bank of
America
(-44 percent) and Citibank (-40
percent).

• US gift card sales will drop 9 percent from $70 billion in
2007 to $59.9 billion in 2008, TowerGroup says.
Merchant-sponsored closed-loop, or private-label gift cards will
see a 14 percent fall in sales, while bank-sponsored,
network-branded gift cards will see a 5.6 percent rise. The decline
in the merchant-sponsored gift card sector will be driven by a
decrease in retail sales and consumers’ fears that private-label
gift card issuers will go bankrupt. There will also be a shift to
branded products from banks which can be used for necessities such
as groceries and petrol.

• Canada’s 2008 Christmas spending season may be the softest
since the early 1990s, a Bank of Montreal and
Air Miles survey reveals. Many Canadians will use
accumulated loyalty points to save on the cost of gift giving, the
survey says. While 60 percent of Canadians plan to pay off credit
card balances for holiday shopping immediately, the rest expect to
carry that balance for six months or more.

Retail Decisions (ReD) says there was a 40
percent year-on-year rise in attempted US online fraud on the day
after the Thanksgiving holiday known as Black Friday, 28 November
2008. ReD says fraudsters attempted to buy goods online costing an
average of $248 per item, up 25 percent year-on-year on a
like-for-like basis. The most fraud-prone US shipping and billing
states on 28 November 2008 were Florida and New York, the fraud
prevention firm says.

• The potential funds available from stolen credit cards offered
online by cyber-criminals totalled $5.3 billion worldwide between 1
July 2007 and 30 June 2008, web security firm
Symantec says. Credit card information is the most
advertised category of goods and services offered on underground
economy servers, accounting for 31 percent of the total in the
reporting period, 1 July 2007 to 30 June 2008.

The second most common category of goods and services advertised
is bank accounts, accounting for 20 percent of the total. The
potential worth of these bank accounts was $1.7 billion for the
reporting period. The total asking price for the stolen information
was $276 million during the period, Symantec says.

Chase Card Services has added gift cards to
the range of rewards on offer to its Chase Freedom credit
cardholders. They can now opt to receive their cashback points in
the form of gift cards from US restaurants and department
stores.

• US processor Heartland Payment Systems has
bought Chockstone, a gift card and loyalty
programme provider. Portland, Oregon-based Chockstone offers
technology which analyses customer behaviour in real time in order
to create targeted point of sale promotions.

HSBC Canada’s MasterCard unit is offering a
way for homeowners to cut their mortgage balances by redeeming
their credit card reward points for additional mortgage repayments.
Until 31 December 2009, the HSBC MasterCard rewards programme
allows cardholders to apply a cashback equivalent to 2 percent of
their total card spending towards their HSBC mortgage. From 1
January 2010, cardholders can apply their credit card cashback to
their Mortgage Account at a rate of 1 percent of total card
spending.

JPMorgan Chase is to take Washington
Mutual
’s (WaMu) consumer card business in-house, following
its September 2008 purchase of the Seattle-based financial
institution. WaMu’s consumer card portfolio was previously
administered by payment processor TSYS under a
contract which has now been discontinued. Chase is to pay TSYS an
undisclosed fee for ending the contract and deconverting WaMu’s
portfolio. The deconversion is due to take place in March 2009,
after which Chase will process the WaMu cards in-house using
technology licensed from TSYS.

WaMu accounted for less than 4 percent of TSYS’ revenues in the
first nine months of 2008. Separately, the Toronto branch of
JPMorgan Chase Bank has extended TSYS’s contract
to process its Canadian card portfolio through 30 April 2012.