• Bank card transactions in China hit a new high during the
week-long national holiday. According to the national electronic
payment and interchange network, China UnionPay,
transactions value hit $7.82 billion during the week, an increase
of nearly 74 percent compared to the same period last year.
• Migrant workers in China’s 14 provincial areas will now have a
special bankcard which will allow them to withdraw money at rural
co-operatives in their home town after they have deposited it in a
city bank. China has more than 120 million rural migrant workers
who remit billions of yuan home to the provinces. The central bank
has also requested all Chinese banks that issue the card to reduce
the service charge from 1 percent to 0.8 percent for cash
withdrawals. The ceiling charge for each transaction has been
lowered from CNY50 ($6.65) to CNY20.
• Et-china.com, a travel services group, has
launched a co-branded card with China Minsheng
Bank for retail and corporate customers. The card will be
launched in late October before the festive periods around
Christmas and Chinese New Year. China Minsheng will provide
extended settlement terms for business travellers who are corporate
cardholders. In return, Et-china.com will offer nationwide business
travel solutions to the bank’s customers. China Minsheng has 2.7
million cardholders, 1.2 million of which are in South China where
• Bank of East Asia, Hong Kong’s fifth-largest
bank, is reportedly expecting to grow its card issuance to 1.3
million in 2008, maintaining its 40 percent growth rate. The bank
said that the card transactions are mainly for retail purchases
rather than bill payments. The bank has issued more than 950,000
• The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China has
issued the Peony Sports Card, China’s first credit card promoting
sports and health. The card will be issued through China UnionPay,
Visa, MasterCard and American Express. Peony Sports cardholders
will receive discounts on sports-related purchases through fitness
clubs, sports clubs and athletic product stores.
• Nikkei, a local Japanese news service, estimates that
Sumitomo Mitsui holds an 11.7 percent market share
of the local credit card market. A close second is
JCB with 11.7 percent and in third place is
UFJ Nicos with 10.1 percent. Credit
Saison holds 8.8 percent, while DC Card
holds 5.6 percent. However, as UFJ Nicos and DC Card have merged as
Mitsubishi UFJ Nicos, they would jointly hold the
lead position with a combined market share of 15.7 percent. The
total amount spent on credit cards in 2006 went up 12.5 percent
year-on-year to $330 billion.
• Europay Austria, the country’s largest acquirer,
will accept China UnionPay (CUP) cards from
October onwards. It will open 3,000 ATMs to CUP cards initially but
is expected to increase the coverage to 8,000 ATMs before end-2008.
Austria is the 27th country to accept CUP cards.
• The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China will
be finalising its review of its cards business for the next three
to five years by the end of this year. The bank is said to be
studying the possibility of issuing international credit cards
through opening foreign branches or through partnering with foreign
• India’s travel services company, Yatra Online,
is to launch a co-branded card with Barclays.
Offering a multi-carrier frequent flyer programme, the card will
also offer flexible credit limits and billing dates. The card is
targeted at Indian travellers who are increasingly using online
travel services without having their spend rewarded.
• Barclays is planning a major expansion in India
since the launch of its retail business five months ago. The bank
is also planning to collaborate with other Indian banks to expand
its reach and has issued 150,000 credit cards so far. Aimed at the
very affluent, mass affluent and aspirational customers across
market segments, the credit cards offered are Barclaycard Gold,
Barclaycard Smart Budget and Barclays Premier League
• Japan Airlines (JAL) and retailer
Aeon have announced a tie-up by which they will
issue electronic money and mileage cards in March 2008. JAL’s JMB
Waon card will be a frequent flyer mileage card and its miles will
be convertible to Aeon’s electronic cash called Waon, and vice
versa. Aeon will also issue an Aeon JMB credit card. JAL reportedly
expects to issue 2 million to 3 million new cards over three
• As the recently established Japan Post Bank will
issue its own credit cards, other card companies that have been
previously tied up with the Japanese post office will be winding
down their alliances. More than 9 million postal savings cash cards
have been issued, from which the card companies earn interest on
cashing services and fees from stores accepting the cards. Now,
card companies are encouraging these cardholders to switch to the
issuer’s own cards and have stopped applications for the joint
cards. Japan Post Bank is in talks with Sumitomo Mitsui Card and
JCB to manage the risk management and customer service functions
for its new cards.
• Kotak Mahindra Bank has launched a Visa gold
debit card which offers free access to all ATMs in India and around
the world. It also offers a fuel surcharge waiver across all petrol
stations in the country regardless of the transaction amount.
• Mizuho Bank and All Nippon
Airways (ANA) are to introduce a new cash and mileage card
in late October. This is a strategic move to counter the alliance
by Japan Airlines and Aeon (noted above). The new card will allow
the cardholder to accumulate mileage points through bank
transactions and ANA air ticket purchases.
• Citibank Philippines has launched a credit card
campaign that supports recycling and environmental protection. In
the Citibank Free GreenBag promotion, the bank will partner with SM
Supermarkets, one of the largest supermarket chains in the
Philippines. Citibank credit cardholders will receive a free
GreenBag for every PHP500 ($11.37) single-receipt purchase of
tagged items at SM Supermarkets. The bag is meant to replace
plastic shopping bags. The promotion is valid from 1 October to 30
• According to the Bank of Thailand, defaults on
credit card loans in the country have increased as debtors become
more careful in their spending. However, the non-performing loans
for card issuers have not increased because the issuers are writing
these bad loans off their books when the debtors are three months
overdue. The central bank said that it is not concerned, as each
bank has enough capital to deal with rising numbers of
Europe, Middle East, Africa
• Kenya’s Postbank has signed a partnership deal
with ATM provider PesaPoint to expand its ATM
network throughout the country. The bank is aiming to double the
number of ATMs country-wide to 220 from 106. PesaPoint has
connected about 110 ATMs in 46 towns. Currently, the state-owned
savings bank boasts 85 branches, although plans are under way to
open five more by the end of the year. According to Postbank’s
managing director, Nyambura Koigi, 54 of these branches will be
automated by the end of the year.
• Independent online finance portal Fair
Investment of the UK has launched a new comparison service
that allows consumers to compare more than 220 credit cards from
around 60 providers using more than 15 different search categories,
including 0 percent balance transfer deals, interest free purchase
cards, cashback and prepaid cards, as well as deals for people with
a poor credit rating.
• Italian technology provider and processor
SIA-SSB has signed an agreement with the
European Payments Council, declaring that the
company’s clearing and settlement mechanism (CSM) is a fully
SEPA-compliant infrastructure ahead of the January 2008 deadline.
To date, SIA-SSB is the only SEPA-compliant CSM in Italy.
• Despite facing infrastructure and technology challenges,
Visa has recorded 20 percent growth across its
card product range in sub-Saharan Africa at the end of June 2007,
amounting to 20.8 million cards. Charles Niehus, Visa’s head of
business development in the region, highlighted Uganda as a new
market where Visa hopes to increase its presence. The number of
Visa debit cards issued in Uganda at the end of June 2007 was
152,000, which remains low compared with the 1 million issued cards
in Kenya, a comparable nation in terms of its size and economy.
“Uganda is still a new market. Four member banks issuing cards is a
success story because it’s not an easy exercise. We are strict in
terms of compliance so the quality of the cards issued by Ugandan
banks is the same as anywhere in the world,” Niehus said.
• Network International, one of the Middle East’s
largest card solutions providers, has entered into a processing
card agreement with Al Masraf, one of the oldest banking groups in
the United Arab Emirates (UAE), formerly known as the Arab Bank for
Investment & Foreign Trade. The contract covers end-to-end card
processing services, which will allow Al Masraf to
issue credit cards to its customers. Network International will
assist Al Masraf in card scheme certification and will also
undertake processing of customer card applications, card embossing
and personalisation, PIN generation, card authorisation, cardholder
statements and payment reconciliations.
• Citibank in Belgium is launching the Citi Travel
Pass MasterCard, which enables customers to win free flights to any
destination with a variety of airlines. For each euro spent,
cardholders earn one mile. The card can be used to redeem travel
miles on train journeys as well.
• Dutch supermarket C1000 is teaming up with
LogicaCMG, a UK-based global IT and management
consultancy company, to trial mobile phone payments linked to
customers’ online debit accounts with Rabobank.
Around 100 customers will initially participate in a six-month
trial of the wireless debit system at a C1000 branch in
Molenaarsgraaf, near Rotterdam. The phones will be equipped with
near field communication technology.
• Emarat and Emirates Petroleum
petrol stations in the UAE will no longer accept credit and debit
cards, due to the companies losing money on charges for card sales.
This move comes a month after Emarat and petrol retailers Enoc and
Eppco introduced a 1.65 percent surcharge on credit and debit card
transactions. Customers will have to use either cash or a specific
store card available at Emarat stations for purchases. Other
alternative methods of payment include a Safeer credit card
targeted at fleet vehicles, an Atheer prepaid card or an Em-Cash
stored value card.
• Parex Bankas, one of the largest banking groups
in the Baltic region, has joined forces with American
Express to unveil the first American Express-branded cards
issued in Lithuania. Parex Bankas will issue the American Express
Gold Card and the Platinum Card, both offering several core
benefits associated with the American Express brand and products
around the world. The bank will also assume responsibility for
signing up new merchants domestically to accept the American
• While the new chip and PIN system has cut card crime within the
UK, its introduction last year made it easier for criminals to use
fake cards in cash machines abroad, according to figures released
by UK payment industry body APACS. The widespread
use of this new system has increased opportunities to steal PIN
codes from customers, which are then used overseas on machines that
do not have to read the unique microchip embedded in the card.
According to Ross Anderson from the Cambridge University
Computer Lab, the true scale of the fraud is much bigger
than the banks are admitting, because the figures do not cover
cases where banks have forced customers and retailers to carry the
cost of theft. “The banks’ claim that the chip and PIN system is
secure is completely bogus. It has not delivered the security that
was promised. It has simply led to a change in tactics,” he
• European IT security company Thales has
announced that it will be providing its HSM 8000 product to enable
Nigeria’s first wave of migration to chip and PIN in conjunction
with its local partner InterSwitch. In 2005, the
central bank of Nigeria specified e-banking guidelines suggesting
that all banks should migrate to chip and PIN by 2008. Access Bank
and United Bank for Africa have become the first banks in the
country to provide enhanced security through EMV for their
customers by upgrading to the HSM 8000.
• Bank Dhofar of Oman recently announced the
launch of the nriConnect account in conjunction with India’s
ICICI Bank, aimed at the sizable population of
non-resident Indians in Oman. The account offers customers a range
of services such as lower bank-to-bank exchange rates and quick
remittances to India. The bank will also offer customers the
country’s only chip-based credit cards, personal loans, overdraft
facilities and mobile phone banking.
• TAG Systems, a subsidiary of European IT group
EDB, has signed an agreement to supply card services for Nordic
card issuer SEB Kort in the Nordic market. TAG
will be responsible for production, personalisation and
distribution of around half the company’s cards in Sweden, Norway,
Denmark and Finland. The agreement runs to the end of 2010. SEB
plans to migrate from magnetic stripe card technology to chip
• The US subprime mortgage crisis will have only a limited impact
on Latin American banks and their customers, says business
intelligence provider InfoAmericas analyst Tricia
Juhn. Latin American bank assets are held mostly in local sovereign
securities, and the region’s economic fundamentals are sound. Juhn
expects remittances to Latin America, particularly to Central
American countries, to recover from their recent decline.
“Declining remittance flows have been a concern in Mexico since the
US housing bubble burst, given estimates that one in every four
Mexicans in the US works in construction,” she says.
• Mexican bank Banamex has started marketing a
MasterCard-branded card called Mi Ahorro Banamex (my Banamex
savings) in the Organización Soriana chain’s stores. The card can
function either as a standard prepaid card with a minimum initial
load of MXN50 ($4.63) and maximum balance of MXN5,700, or as an
interest-paying savings card with no maximum balance. Banamex says
the card can be used for purchases at Soriana stores and also at
outlets owned by affiliated retailers. In July 2007, Banamex and
Soriana formed an alliance to jointly market financial services
products to the retailer’s customers.
• Banamex has launched La Verde (Green), a credit
card targeted at supporters of Mexico’s national football team. La
Verde offers cardholders the chance to win free trips to the 2010
football World Cup and the 2009 Copa de Oro, and exclusive presale
tickets to games when the national team plays locally.
• Brazil’s Banco Itaú says in October 2007 the
number of credit cards in issue in Brazil rose by 18.5 percent to
90 million from 77 million in October 2006. Total credit card
transactions in October 2007 rose by 20.5 percent year-on-year to
BRL16 billion ($8.94 billion).
• Banco Amigo, a Mexican microfinance bank
launched in November 2006, is now offering two credit cards. The
first is a Banco Amigo-branded card and the second is a co-branded
card with Mexico’s Merca, Premier and Sé Tu retail chain. Both
cards offer a maximum balance of MXN5,000.
• Mexico’s BBVA Bancomer has bought 13,000
Hypercom Optimum T2100 countertop and M2100 mobile POS terminals.
The order brings the total number of Hypercom terminals bought by
BBVA Bancomer so far this year to 21,300. Hypercom says the
terminal purchases are the result of BBVA Bancomer’s decision to
expand its credit and debit card acquiring throughout Mexico.
• BBVA Bancomer says its revenues from credit and
debit card commissions and fees rose by 19.1 percent year-on-year
to MXN3.98 billion in the first half of 2007. The bank says the
growth was due to the volume of transactions and not to an increase
in its prices.
• UK-based credit reference agency Experian has
paid BRL138 million for an additional 5 percent stake in
Serasa. The purchase takes Experian’s total stake
in the Brazilian credit bureau to 70 percent. Experian acquired an
initial 65 percent in Serasa in June 2007.
• Itautec has indicated that its gross revenues
rose by 16.5 percent year-on-year to BRL777.8 million in the first
half of 2007. Recurring net profits rose to BRL23.7 million in the
first half of 2007, up from BRL13.9 million in the same period of
2006. Itautec provides ATMs, POS terminals and outsourced ATM
services in Argentina, Brazil, Mexico and Paraguay as well as in
Spain and Portugal. The company plans to set up a subsidiary in
Italy. ATM clients in Latin America include Paraguay’s Bancard,
BBVA Argentina and Banamex.
• Kabira Technologies, a US-based payments
processing software vendor, has formed an alliance with Bull, the
French computer manufacturer. The deal calls for Bull to promote
Kabira’s multi-channel payments software to its banking clients in
Latin America. Over the next few months, Kabira will be setting up
partnerships with Latin American systems integrators and software
firms in an effort to roll out its software to local banks.
• NCR has installed the first ATM in Argentina
that offers real-time deposits. The ATM was installed at Banco
Patagonia, and NCR is running a trial with another Argentine bank,
according to a report by news service BNAmericas.
• Postilion, a subsidiary of US-based banking
software company S1, is to market its card-processing software in
Brazil through an alliance with local reseller VAS
Consultoria Empresarial. The Postilion software works with
POS, web and mobile channels. “We expect that by the end of 2008
every Brazilian retail bank will be processing transactions carried
out on mobile devices,” says Vlademir Santos, a VAS director. “We
believe that the 100 million mobile devices in use in Brazil can
become real-time payment channels.”
• National Commercial Bank of Jamaica has launched
the NCB Visa Business credit card. The card comes with travel
accident insurance and auto rental insurance, and business owners
can apply preset spending limits for their employees. Companies
applying for the card before March 2008 will have the joining fee
waived and will receive a reduced interest rate of 17 percent for
the first year. The card can be used worldwide, NCB says. It also
offers the KeycardBiz, a Jamaican-dollar-denominated business
credit card for use only in Jamaica.
• RBC Royal Bank has agreed to buy Caribbean bank
RBTT Financial Group for TTD13.8 billion ($2.2
billion). Following the deal, which is subject to regulatory and
shareholder approval, RBC will have a presence in 18 countries
across the Caribbean, as well as 130 branches and 1.6 million
clients. It currently has 46 branches and 68 ATMs in nine Caribbean
countries. RBTT operates an ATM network and offers international
credit cards across the Caribbean.
• Argentine bank Santander Río has launched a
mobile internet banking service for its customers who use a
BlackBerry e-mail device. The bank says it is the first Argentine
financial institution to offer wireless banking on the unit. Its
personal banking customers currently can use their BlackBerry only
to download a 60-day transaction history and review the due date
for payments from their accounts, while business customers can also
use the device to authorise funds transfers and payments.
• Western Union’s Orlandi Valuta money transfer
service unit has added 18 new agents with a total of 1,060
locations in Central and South America. The majority of the new
agent locations previously offered Western Union’s Vigo
money-transfer service. These locations will now offer Orlandi
Valuta as well as Vigo services.
• The Federal Reserve says US revolving consumer
credit, which includes credit card loans, rose at a seasonally
adjusted annual rate of 8.1 percent in August 2007 to $915.5
billion. In July 2007, revolving credit rose by an annual rate of
7.5 percent to $909.3 billion.
• American Express came first for overall customer
satisfaction in US marketing services company JD Power and
Associates’ 2007 credit card satisfaction survey. The survey asked
cardholders about ten major US credit card issuers. Discover came a
close second for overall customer satisfaction, and first in two
subsectors: rewards, and billing and payment processes.
• The National Retail Federation (NRF), a US trade
association, is asking the credit card industry to stop forcing
retailers to store credit card data. The NRF says requiring
retailers to store card data for purchases makes their IT systems
an attractive target for hackers to break into. Instead, card
companies should be responsible for storing transactional data, the
• US households will receive 5.3 billion offers for new credit
cards during 2007, the Synovate Mail Monitor
credit card direct mail tracking service reports. The full-year
forecast is down from the 5.76 billion offers received in 2006,
Synovate says. Due to the decreased volume for 2007, Synovate
predicts response rates will rise to 0.6 percent from 0.5 percent,
representing 32 million applications for new credit cards.
• American Express has appointed Daniel T Henry as
executive vice-president and chief financial officer. Henry has
been acting CFO since February 2007, and was previously
vice-president and CFO at American Express’s US consumer, small
business and merchant services group.
• American Express has launched the Thank You gift
card for employee rewards, sales incentives and consumer
promotions. The card is available in various denominations from $25
to $100, and comes with special offers from participating US
retailers. It can be used at Amex-accepting merchants in the US,
but not at ATMs. A monthly service fee of $2 is waived for the
initial 12 months after purchase.
• US Airways and Barclays have
launched the US Airways Dividend Miles MasterCard BusinessCard for
small business owners. The card comes in two versions: a no-fee
version offering new cardholders up to 15,000 free miles, and a $79
fee card offering up to 25,000 free miles plus additional benefits.
The US Airways Barclays MasterCard has been available for consumers
since January 2006.
• The University of Notre Dame has become the second US university
to accept Chase Card Service’s blink contactless
credit cards at its sports complexes. Cardholders can now use blink
cards at 60 concession stands throughout Notre Dame’s campus,
including the Notre Dame Stadium. Chase has been issuing Notre Dame
affinity cards since 1995. In October 2006, Louisiana State
University started accepting blink cards at its Tiger
• Payments processor Chase Paymentech says
merchants using its processing network will be able to accept
internet and telephone payments by customers using financial
services provider Green Dot’s MoneyPak prepaid cards. Green Dot
sells MoneyPak at 40,000 retail locations across the US.
• Discover Financial Services has added
TSYS to the list of processors that use the
Discover Network. Under the agreement, TSYS will be able to process
prepaid and credit card transactions on behalf its issuer clients
via the Discover-owned payments network. Discover hopes the deal
will open its network to card issuers that use TSYS for their
processing. TSYS also processes via the American Express,
MasterCard and Visa networks. “The deal offers existing and
potential card issuers who use Discover Network more choice of
processors,” a Discover spokesperson tells CI. “These [issuers’]
cards have the issuers’ brands, but they also have the Discover
Network acceptance mark, similar to a MasterCard issued by
• According to a global payment processor First
Data survey, US consumers make an average of 10.5 PIN
debit card transactions a month. This compares with nine PIN debit
transactions a month five years ago, First Data says. The average
number of signature debit transactions per consumer a month is
• FraudSciences, a provider of card-not-present
fraud detection services, has raised $11 million in a Series B
venture funding round. US-based Redpoint Ventures and Israel- based
BRM Capital were among investors participating in the round.
FraudSciences will use the proceeds to roll out its managed fraud
analytics and transaction verification service to e-merchants.
FraudSciences refunds its customers for charge-backs related to
• Conan Lane has been appointed executive director at card
processor Heartland Payment Systems. Lane will be
responsible for improving the card processor’s operational
efficiency. He was previously vice-president and chief operations
manager for PNC Bank’s Merchant Services team.
• US processor Metavante has entered into a direct
relationship with merchants for the first time after buying a
portfolio of 1,800 merchant accounts from Hamilton, Ohio-based
First Financial Bank. Under a long-term exclusive
merchant referral deal, First Financial will also make referrals to
Metavante for POS card acquiring and processing services. Metavante
has been providing processing on a service-bureau basis to First
Financial since 2000.
• Metavante’s NYCE Payments Network subsidiary is
to start offering a mobile banking and m-payments service to US
financial institutions before the end of 2007. NYCE will deliver
the Monitise Americas service to several unspecified US banks,
using its PIN debit card network to process transactions. Customers
will be able to pay bills and transfer funds using their mobile
phones, according to NYCE. Monitise Americas is the first
commercially available m-banking service from a US debit card
payments network, NYCE says. The service is a joint venture between
Metavante and UK-based Monitise, which operates the Monilink
m-banking and m-payment system in the UK.
• Pulse EFT Association has introduced
DebitProtect, a neural network-based fraud detection system, across
its entire ATM and POS network. The US debit processor says
DebitProtect carries out risk scoring for PIN-based,
signature-based and PIN-less debit transactions on the Pulse
network, and notifies designated financial institution staff via
e-mail of possible fraudulent transactions. PIN-less debit
transactions involve using a debit card to make telephone or