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Affinity Banking News - Autumn 2009

Citibank launches two new co-branded cards in Russia...

In Russia, Citibank has introduced two new co-branded cards in the retailing and telecoms sectors.

With regards to the first of these, Citibank has signed an agreement with the X5 retail grouping whereby it will launch a co-branded card with Perekrestok during the first half of 2010. Cardholders will earn rewards when making purchases at a Perekrestok shop as part of the Perekrestok Club loyalty program with both debit and credit cards available. The original Perekrestok Club loyalty card was launched in 2006 and now boasts more than 900,000 cardholders. In 2009, the loyalty scheme expanded beyond Moscow and the Greater Moscow region with loyalty cards now in use almost everywhere that the supermarket chain is present in Russia.

As for the second, Citibank is collaborating with Russia's largest cellular operator, MTS, and MasterCard for a new co-branded credit card that combines three loyalty programs, offering customers an opportunity to earn more points and more free minutes. In fact, with every purchase made in Russia and abroad, cardholders will accumulate bonus points faster and will be able to exchange them for free minutes, SMS packages, gift certificates from large retail chains and other rewards as part of the MTS Bonus program.

Some of the major benefits offered include: one bonus point for each RUR30 spent with either the main or supplementary cards; accumulation of points on the telephone number of the main cardholder or on any other MTS number; provision by MTS of one bonus point for each RUR5 spent on MTS services as part of MTS Bonus program;  between 3,000 and 6,000 welcome points after the first purchase depending upon the level of card held; a grace period and a revolving line of credit for up to RUR600,000; and up to a 20% discount at Citibank partner stores worldwide.

The application form for the new card can be completed at MTS outlets, at Citibank branches and at shopping mall venues as well as online at Citibank's own website. Applications are reviewed within three business days and subscribers' mobile numbers are registered with the MTS Bonus program within seven business days.

... introduces a new card in Hungary in conjunction with Magyar Telekom...

Meanwhile, in Hungary, Citibank has joined forces with Magyar Telekom for a new co-branded card with no annual fee in the first year. In addition, during the first three months, cardholders can obtain cash back equivalent to 10% and 20% of their purchases with their Silver and Gold credit cards, respectively, based on their T-Home and T-Mobile monthly invoices if payments are made through direct debit. The new credit card is being offered to Gold and Platinum level members of the T-Home and T-Mobile loyalty programs.

... and rolls out a new 'ultra premium' Miles & More credit card

Although not a brand new program, Citibank, Miles & More, Lufthansa and MasterCard are marking four years of successful co-operation in Russia with the launch of the Miles & More Ultima MasterCard card, a new 'ultra premium' credit card for Russia's affluent frequent flyers and the first elite co-branded credit card in Europe based on MasterCard's World Signia platform. This new card is an exclusive product aimed at premium class customers and offers credit limits of up to RUR1,500,000, a welcome bonus of 7,500 award miles, travel insurance, a concierge service and Priority Pass club membership, which allows access to VIP and business lounges in 650 airports around the globe, in addition to all other benefits already carried by the existing Miles & More MasterCard card issued by Citibank in Russia.

MasterCard begins working with ISIC at an international level

In another co-branding initiative involving MasterCard, the global card brand and payments company has begun co-operating with International Student Identity Card (ISIC) for what it hopes will be a ground-breaking product for students, namely a three-in-one card which combines the traditional international student identity card with targeted discounts and global payment functionality.

The first such card in Europe has been launched by Credit Lyonnais as part of its Zen Etudiant package for students in France. The card is available across the LCL network, and is intended for students who are LCL customers and currently studying at university or college. The bank has implemented a simple process that allows students to use e-mail to download a photo of themselves, which is then integrated onto the card. Once the process is complete and has been approved by LCL and the cardholder, the LCL ISIC MasterCard card is available within one week.

The second issuer to test the card concept is OTP in Hungary. Introduced in September 2009, two programs are available, namely the MasterCard Online ISIC and the MasterCard Online ISIC Junior, both of which operate on an unembossed MasterCard platform. University students of 18 or over can apply for the card, with the Junior version expiring on the 24th birthday of the cardholder. As well as a comprehensive array of locally tailored features, the card program also offers emergency card replacement and cash withdrawal abroad supported through the OTP helpdesk.

The international student identity card was first issued in 1956 and has helped students experience a better quality of life ever since. ISIC is the only international proof of full-time student status, endorsed by UNESCO, national governments and ministries of education worldwide and is sold each year to over 4.5 million students in 120 countries.

American Express enlists exclusive card issuer in Georgia...

In Georgia, American Express and Bank of Georgia have announced that the latter will begin issuing the former's payment cards. The two partners believe tha the cards, which will be available exclusively through Bank of Georgia's local network, will provide innovative and unique benefits, which are designed to meet the needs of consumers both in Georgia and when travelling around the world. In particular, the cards are designed to satisfy the requirements of busy clients with demanding lifestyles through a range of benefits that are new to the Georgian market. These include the American Express Membership Rewards program that enables cardholders to earn points that can be redeemed for a wide array of retail, travel and leisure rewards.

... and launches new co-branded cards with SAS Scandinavian Airlines

Another important new initiative concerning American Express has seen it enter into a strategic partnership with SAS Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) that encompasses the launch of co-branded cards for both companies and consumers and co-operation between the EuroBonus frequent flyer program of SAS and the Membership Rewards global loyalty program of American Express. In particular, the relationship sees the launch of two SAS American Express cards, namely the SAS American Express Corporate card for companies in Denmark, Norway and Sweden, and the SAS EuroBonus American Express card for consumers in Sweden.

The new SAS American Express Corporate card has been created for Scandinavian companies and is designed to help them gain visibility and control of their total travel and entertainment expenditure, while rewarding them with additional SAS 'credits' redeemable against new flights with SAS. The program also enables companies to streamline their expense management processes and significantly reduce time spent by employees on expenses administration. Furthermore, corporate travellers will be eligible to earn EuroBonus points towards flights with SAS and partners.

Meanwhile, the SAS EuroBonus American Express card, is tailored to meet the needs of a group of customers in Sweden that appreciates the benefits of a premium card that has all the advantages of American Express combined with the EuroBonus loyalty program.

Banesto develops financial services portal in conjunction with Real Madrid

In Spain, Banesto and Real Madrid have joined forces to offer to the football club's members and supporters a new, differentiated financial services proposition. Specifically, by means of the web site and a dedicated telephone number, the club's members and supporters are able to access a financial services offering that includes a current account, a savings account, a mortgage and co-branded debit and credit cards, all offering highly competitive conditions. Moreover, upon taking out any one of these financial products, members and supporters will receive a free gift such as an official shirt or branded clock.

Bank Austria begins issuing UEFA Champions League pre-paid card

Also in the realm of football-related initiatives, and as an extension of its existing co-operation with UEFA, Bank Austria, a subsidiary of UniCredit in Austria, has announced the launch of a pre-paid card displaying the UEFA Champions League logo. Customers using the card for payments also have the chance to win tickets to the UEFA Champions League final in Madrid in May 2010.

Co-operative Bank launches new affinity partnership in the UK

In the UK, the Co-operative Bank has disclosed the launch of an affinity partnership with Emma’s Diary, offering a new and easy way to support expectant mothers with their possible new financial requirements. Specifically, Emma’s Diary provides access to products and offers relevant advice to young families in this important stage of their lives. Indeed, at this key life stage, there are many financial considerations, and as a result the Co-operative Bank has selected products and services with this in mind for Emma’s Diary including current accounts, savings, personal loans, mortgages and financial advice.

Newcastle Card Solutions launches new pre-paid cards with Phones 4u

Newcastle Card Solutions, a subsidiary of the Newcastle Building Society and one of the UK’s largest issuing banks for prepaid cards, has teamed up with Tuxedo Money Solutions to offer two pre-paid cards for Phones 4u - Neon for teenagers and Escape for adults.

The Neon card, which is aimed at teenagers aged from 13 to 17, can be used to withdraw cash from ATMs in the UK and abroad, and offers a secure solution for downloading games and music online. The card costs GBP9.99 with no monthly fee and offers up to 20% cashback at certain online stores, with a minimum balance of GBP10 and a maximum of GBP500. It is fully approved by the Financial Services Authority (FSA) for teenage use, with parental approval required when signing up. The card supports standing orders and direct debits, as well as PAYG mobile top ups. As for the Escape card, this offers the same features plus a secondary card for a fee of GBP4.99. Both cards can be topped up at any Phones 4u store as well as online, at any PayPoint and in post offices, as well as via bank transfer and via payrolls.

Deutsche Bank and Vodafone tie for co-branded credit card in Germany

Meanwhile, Vodafone signed an agreement with Deutsche Bank in Germany with a focus on the growing market for mobile banking services. As part of the agreement, Vodafone has begun offering a co-branded Visa credit card issued by Deutsche Bank which incorporates an SMS service to control banking transactions. The partnership is expected to extend to further cross-selling opportunities in the future and both partners believe that there is likely to be a high future demand among customers for flexible and secure mobile banking services.

Postbank initiates new affinity ventures with eBay and OBI

Also in Germany, Postbank is rolling out new affinity initiatives with eBay and OBI.

In the former case, Postbank and eBay have struck up a partnership for the promotion of a new eBay SparCard, a card linked to a savings account, and a new eBay Business Girokonto, a current account for business customers. The eBay SparCard offers a variable interest rate on deposits currently standing at 2.0% while the card is especially directed at eBay customers who can use it to make purchases at the online marketplace and also enables customers to withdraw money at no charge at Postbank cash machines across the country. As for the business current account, this exists in two versions. While the eBay Business Giro Bronze is available for a monthly fee of EUR29.90 and allows users a credit line of EUR3,000, the eBay Business Giro Silber costs EUR49.90 and includes a credit line of EUR6,000.

As for the latter venture, this simply involves OBI, the DIY chain, installing cash machines operated by Deutsche Postbank at 180 of its stores in Germany during the first six months of 2010. OBI customers will be able to withdraw cash during the opening hours of the stores between 8.00 and 20.00. Earlier in 2009, Postbank had already started a partnership with Shell in Germany for the instalment of 1,300 cash machines at the fuel company’s petrol stations in Germany.

Société Générale creates a Rolling Stones bank card

In France, Société Générale, Universal Music and Visa have created the first Rolling Stones bank card in Europe to mark the launch of the remastered versions of all post-1970 Rolling Stones albums. This card is available from Société Générale branches as a limited edition product for a fee of EUR24 a year in addition to the standard card subscription fee. It completes the So Music collection of cards, which has gained 140,000 customers since its launch in May 2008. The So Music Rolling Stones card has the standard features of a bank card plus access to the services of the website which offers concert tickets, competitions and preferential rates on downloads. It is available in Carte Bleue V Pay, Carte Bleue Visa and Carte Visa Premier versions.

Crédit Agricole ties with M6 for youth-oriented payment card

Another media-inspired card launch in France sees Crédit Agricole and M6 introducing Mozaïc M6, a new payment card offering innovative services to the youth market. This partnership is based on the leading position that these companies already hold in the youth market, in entertainment and in banking respectively. This card is designed to provide a financial framework that supports young customers and meets parents’ concerns about their children’s spending. It is backed by a current account, so it puts its young users in an ‘adult’ financial position and gives them the necessary independence to learn to manage their budget safely. It also provides its cardholders with entertainment benefits and special offers on high-tech products, fashion, culture and music; these benefits are available online, as the preferred medium for young people.

Ford and Santander combine to boost passenger car sales in Spain

In Spain, Ford and Santander have developed a joint campaign to facilitate the sale of passenger cars at competitive prices and with an attractive finance scheme included. Specifically, up to the end of 2009, the bank's customers are able to acquire cars at an 18% discount to the normal price, an offer that will be in addition to the incentives already put in place to stimulate car purchases by both national and regional governments in Spain. Moreover, significantly, it is Santander itself which is providing the finance scheme, rather than Ford's own captive finance arm.

ALD Automotive gains access to insurer's distribution network

In Spain, ALD Automotive and Groupama Seguros have signed an agreement by means of which the network of agents and brokers of the insurance company, composed of more than 6,000 intermediaries, can offer leased vehicles and fleet management services to their individual and company customers. This distribution and marketing agreement includes the option of offering a comprehensive service for leasing and fleet management, which includes vehicle maintenance, repairs, insurance, claims management, driver assistance and used vehicle sales, among other services. The agreement creates a new source of income for Groupama’s agents and brokers, plus a new service to develop customer loyalty and retention. In fact, the relationship between ALD Automotive and Groupama Seguros dates back to 2005, when ALD began offering leased cars to Groupama’s staff in Spain.

CajaMadrid sets up four new commercial affinity agreements...

As in previous quarters, Spain's CajaMadrid has unveiled a number of new commercial affinity agreements for the provision of banking products on preferential terms with professional or trade associations. In fact, new relationships have been set up with the Confederación de Organizaciones Empresariales de la Comunidad Valenciana (CIERVAL), the Confederación Regional de Organizaciones Empresariales de Murcia (CROEM), the IIustre Colegio de Abogados de Valencia (ICAV),  a professional association representing more than 9,200 lawyers in the Valenica region, and PIMEC, a trade association working on behalf of small and medium-sized enterprises in the Catalan region.

... with BBVA responding with a pair of its own

In a similar vein, BBVA has disclosed a brace of new commercial affinity partnerships of its own, again focused on making banking services available with more favourable conditions.  In its case, the relationships have been struck with the Cámara de Comercio de Madrid and the CEIM (Confederación Empresarial de Madrid), as well as with the CEP (Confederación Española de Policía), a professional body serving around 60.000 members of the police force.

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