Technology

Barclays introduces mobile
payments

UK banking group Barclays has made a
further enhancement to its mobile phone banking service which will
allow customers to make payments to third parties.

Barclays’ enhancement to the service means that
customers can pay funds to existing or new beneficiaries that have
been set up in online banking. An interface has been developed
specifically for viewing over a mobile phone to make it easier for
customers to conduct mobile transactions.

Barclays’ mobile phone banking service was
launched in May 2009 and receives approximately 1m visits from
mobile devices per month. In addition to the new payments service,
Barclays customers visiting http://www.barclays.mobi/ can also
view balances, mini-statements and make transfers between their
accounts.

 

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By GlobalData

Strategy and
trends

Kazakh bank teams up with Welcome
Real-time for loyalty programme

Kazakhstan’s Kazkommertsbank has
partnered with European loyalty solution provider Welcome Real-time
to launch a bank-wide loyalty programme.

Welcome Real-time’s XLS 7.0 technology platform
will support the bank’s debit and credit card loyalty programme and
its efforts to reward customers for additional products and
services they use across the bank.

The bank-wide loyalty programme, which will go
live in September 2010, will encourage the bank’s customers to use
its internet banking service. Customers will be rewarded for
transactions including checking their balance, making payments,
opening new accounts and signing up for other bank products such as
insurance or investment services. Customers will be able to check
their reward point balances from multiple channels including the
website, ATMs and bank branch kiosks and will be able to redeem
their points at participating partner retailers at the point of
sale.

 

Regulation

European politicians call for
remittance costs cap to help poor

European Union members of parliament
have called for a cap in remittance costs to help people in
developing countries.

Members of the
EU’s Development Committee said that a direct
consequence of the economic crisis for developing countries is the
drop in remittances, which fell by an estimated 7% in 2009 compared
to 2008, which in turn made a significant impact on the GDP of
low-income countries.

Members of the European Parliament said that to
remedy this, they would ask member states and recipient countries
to facilitate the delivery of remittances and to work towards the
reduction of their costs. In a statement, the Development Committee
said it welcomed a commitment made at the recent G8 summit “to
reduce the cost of remittance transfers from 10% to 5% in five
years.”

 

Product
launch

MasterCard and QNB launch
co-branded credit card

QNB, Qatar’s leading financial
institution, has teamed up with MasterCard to launch the

QNB Qatar Airways Titanium MasterCard credit card
. The first
MasterCard Titanium card programme in the country, the card offers
a range of benefits, including insurance packages, extended
warranty options and a growing airport lounge access programme.

Cardholders can also accumulate ‘Qmiles’ within
the Qatar Airways loyalty programme, receiving 1 Qmile for every
QR8 ($2.20) spent on the card. Cardholders will also have access to
MasterCard Moments, an exclusive online repository of privileges.
This programme is specially designed for MasterCard cardholders to
offer them benefits which include member-only invitations to
special events and experiences.

 

Product
launch

PFS launches prepaid rand travel
card

UK prepaid solution provider Prepaid
Financial Services (PFS) has launched a prepaid travel card
denominated in SAR in a bid to capitalise on the upcoming FIFA
World Cup football tournament which is being held in South Africa
later this year.

The MasterCard-branded card, which is issued by
Transact Network, is available directly to consumers or through
businesses to their staff or consumer base.

The card can be loaded using a debit or credit
card online or by SMS. Cardholders can also load their cards using
bank transfers, standing orders, or wage transfers from employers.
Card loads are denominated in SAR in order to eliminate foreign
exchange charges when in South Africa.

Noel Moran, CEO of PFS, said: “We are delighted
to launch the first-ever MasterCard rand travel card in Europe. The
PFS MasterCard prepaid rand travel card will be available
throughout the UK and combines the safety of a payment card with
the flexibility and convenience of a mobile phone.

“Cardholders travelling to South Africa can
effortlessly manage their money 24/7 using their mobile phone.”

 

Strategy and
trends

Over 2m Visa card users in
Kenya

According to Visa, banks in Kenya have
surpassed the 2m Visa card milestone, up from 1m three years ago,
and have also recorded $3.3bn in transaction volume.

Visa Sub-Saharan Africa general manager Charles
Niehaus said that Kenya stands to boost its economy significantly
by increasing the use of card and electronic payment systems.

Apart from South Africa, Kenya has the largest
number of cards issued in Sub-Saharan Africa.

“We have done a lot of global research on how
electronic payments boost the economy and actually help grow GDP.
Some of the research we’ve seen is that a 10% increase in
electronic payments grows GDP 1%. Most of the cost of cash in an
economy is very high; sometimes it rates between 5% and 7% of the
cost of actually printing money, security and transportation,” he
said.

He added that as Kenya still faces the
challenge of bringing unbanked individuals into the formal banking
system, Visa will be looking at ways to expand its mobile money
transfer services.

 

Product
launch

Amex launches platinum card in
Azerbaijan

International Bank of Azerbaijan (IBA)
and American Express (Amex) have launched the first platinum credit
card in Azerbaijan.

IBA said that the card will be offered on an
invitation-only basis to affluent individuals, and will incorporate
travel, lifestyle and insurance benefits.

The card also comes with 24/7 multilingual
customer services and a dedicated team of travel and lifestyle
experts who will book flights, hotels and restaurants on behalf of
cardholders. Cardholders will also have access to over 600 VIP
airport lounges around the world.