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CO-OP Adds 4,000 ATMS Following Deal

ONTARIO, Calif.-The CO-OP Network said it has signed a new contract with eFunds Corp. adding another 4,000 co-branded eFunds' ATMs to its network. The three-year deal will expand the CO-OP Network to almost 21,000 ATMs by the end of 2004, according to Robert Rose, president of the credit union-owned network. The ATMs are all owned by eFunds' Access Cash subsidiary, which operates 17,000 ATMs, the largest independent (non-bank owned) fleet in the country. The new contact replaces an expiring three-year deal between the two companies.

MasterCard To Hike Its Interchange Fees

PURCHASE, N.Y.-MasterCard International said it will raise interchange rates for consumer and corporate credit cards starting April 2. The new rates appear to be aimed at giving issuers a revenue advantage for issuing MasterCard instead of Visa cards, according to CardLine, a sister publication of The Credit Union Journal.

A typical $80 sale in which the cardholder is present in a store and the transaction is electronically authorized, will cost small and medium-sized merchants 7% more in interchange fees. Merchant acquirers are assessed interchange and forward the revenue to the issuer of the card used in the sale. Acquirers pass the expense on to their merchant clients.

CU Used To Launder Money

WILMINGTON, Del. -- A former treasurer for U.S. Senator Joseph Biden's relection campaign pleaded guilty last week to stealing almost $400,000 from the Delaware Democrat's campaign treasury and laundering some of it to his credit union account. Roger Blevins, III, 33, pleaded guilty to one count of interstate transportation of stolen property in connection with last April's transfer of $80,000 of the funds to his account at Fairwinds CU in Orlando, Fla. Blevins also pleaded guilty to a charge of making a false statement to the government. Authorities said Blevins made 23 unauthorized transfers form the campaign treasury, the largest of which went to his CU.

Gould Named Calif. Regulator

SACRAMENTO, Calif.-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has appointed Howard Gould, former chairman of United California Bank and of Sanwa Bank, as new commissioner of the Department of Financial Institutions, which has oversight authority over 210 state-chartered CUs. Gould will succeed another former banker, Donald Meyer, the former general counsel for Union Bank, who served as DFI commissioner since April 2000. California has the third highest number of state charters, after Pennsylvania and Michigan.

Mass. Bill Aims At Check Cashing

BOSTON-The state Senate unanimously approved a bill aimed at protecting the privacy of check-cashing consumers. The bill would prohibit credit unions and banks from requiring check-cashing customers to provide the institution with a credit card or any other personal identification information other than a name, address, telephone number and driver's license number or state identification card number. The measure allows the institution to verify the name, signature and expiration date on a credit card but does not allow it to record that information on the check without the customer's consent.

Global Access Acquires ATMs

PONTE VEDRA, Fla.-Global Axcess Corp. said has agreed to acquire 900 merchant ATMs in the southeast from a privately held Texas company, for $3.9 million. The deal gives the fledgling independent ATM operator control over 2,500 ATMs, including 1,900 it now owns. Global Axcess, which bought ATM-operator Nationwide Money Services from First Data two years ago, has been contracting with smaller credit unions to provide them with branded ATM services through a program called Nationwide Money Branded Cash Program.

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