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SECU Grows Scholarship Program

RALEIGH, N.C.-The boards of both State Employees CU and the SECU Foundation have voted to continue the credit union's landmark scholarship program, which awarded college scholarships to every single public high school in the state last year, credit union officials announced.

In its first year, the foundation's "People Helping People Scholarship Program" awarded more than $4.5 million in college grants, including a $10,000 scholarship to one student at each one of the state's 350 public high schools and 22 charter high schools; and two $5,000 scholarships to attend every one of North Carolina's 58 two-year community colleges, according to Mark Twisdale, spokesman for the foundation.

The scholarships cover all tuition for recipients. The public school scholarship program, likely the most ambitious in the country, is expected to reach $6.5 million a year over the next few years, he said.

"Decisions on recipients are made at the local level and not by the credit union or the foundation," he told The Credit Union Journal. The main criteria are academic achievements and good character and integrity.

Fiserv Opens Processing Plant

BROOKFIELD, Wis.-Fiserv is opening an item processing plant in Burlington Vt., to serve its client Merchants Bank, and area credit unions and banks.

The 7,500-foot facility is fully automated and uses the CAR-LAR system that is capable of automatically reading the handwriting on most checks.

The system helps speed processing and cuts costs. Fiserv is one of the biggest processors of checks and images and has processing operations across the country.

Cardtronics Inc. Posts 3Q Loss

HOUSTON-Cardtronics Inc., operator of the world's largest fleet of ATMs, reported a net loss of $200,000 for the third quarter, due mainly to financing costs of its rapidly expanding operations.

That compared with a profit of $2 million for the third quarter last year. Cardtronics, which operates almost 27,000 ATMs, almost twice the size of Bank of America's second-largest ATM fleet, said revenues for the third quarter were up 13% to $71.7 million, compared to the same quarter last year.

For the first three quarters of the year Cardtronics reported a 52% rise in revenues, to $199.2 million, due mainly to last year's acquisition of 15,000 ATMs from E*TRADE. Net income for the first three quarters declined to $1.8 million, from $3.2 million for the first nine months last year.

Cardtronics also forms the backbone of the Allpoint surcharge-free network that serves credit unions. Cardtronics recently unveiled a plan to join MasterCard in a nationwide surcharge-free ATM network.

Pay-By-Cell Phone Around Corner

AUSTIN, Texas-Mobile Evolution said it has completed a pilot in which 100 mobile merchants, including cab drivers and trade-show vendors, accepted payment cards by keying the card numbers into cell phones, and is now unveiling the card-processing service to merchants nationwide.

The year-old company said its technology will allow any cell phone with a viewing screen to become a secure payment terminal.

The product is designed for smaller merchants that handle less than $50,000 per terminal per year. The company uses Innovative Merchant Services, a unit of Intuit, to sponsor transactions into the card networks, and Global Payments Inc. to provide cardholder authentication for the cell-phone initiated transactions.

When customers are ready to pay, merchants launch software in the phone and enter a PIN to access the payment application.

Once logged in, the merchant keys in the card data, sale amount and the customer's billing ZIP code for address verification against the card account. A summary of the transaction then appears on the phone screen.

If the information is correct, the merchant transmits the transaction data to Innovative Merchant Services for processing.

The merchant captures the cardholder's signature on a separate paper document, and provides the customer with a paper receipt for the transaction.

Google Plans Payment Service

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif.-Google is expected to unveil an online payment system as soon as the next few weeks in order to take advantage of holiday spending season.

The payments system, to be called Google Wallet, will allow consumers to pay merchants online from their own credit union or bank accounts without using a credit card. The company has been piloting the system for the past six months.

It is not clear whether Google Wallet will also facilitate person-to-person transfers. The online payment system is expected to be part of a comprehensive strategy by the Internet search engine that will include the subsequent launch of an online classified and selling service, similar to the one offered by eBay.

Earnings Rise At eFunds

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz.-Transaction processor eFunds Corp. reported third quarter profits surged 48% to $15.8 million, or 34 cents a share, compared to the same period last year, even while revenues declined.

The company, which processes transactions for the credit union-owned CO-OP Network, said total revenues declined 5% for the quarter, due to last year's sale of its ATM fleet to TRM Corp.

But operating expenses also declined by 8% to $115.2 million, as a result of the ATMs sale. For the first three quarters of the year eFunds reported a 46% rise in net income to $43.1 million, or 90 cents a share, compared to the first nine months last year, and a 14% decline in revenues to $363.7 million, because of the absence of the ATM revenues.

Husband, Wife Charged In Hold-Up

LAFAYETTE, Ind.-A Chicago couple were arrested after a brief highway chase and charged with the armed robbery a short while before at Industrial FCU.

Donnell Robinson, 34, and Vanessa Ortiz, 27, have been charged with robbing the credit union.

Police recovered an undisclosed amount of cash, believed taken in the heist, and a BB gun from the Dodge pickup the married couple were driving when they were arrested.

Serial Robber Hunted In Georgia

MARIETTA, Ga.-A man believed to have held up Associated CU a year ago may be responsible for as many as 11 other area armed robberies.

Most of the heists were at SunTrust or Wachovia branches, but the robber is also believed to have hit Bank of America, Integrity Bank and Associate CU, authorities said. The suspect carried a gun in at least some of the robberies.

Utah Schools Get CU Funding

SALT LAKE CITY-Four more local school districts are the recipients of $20,000 in grants from the 100% For Kids Credit Union Education Foundation, which has provided more than $3 million in school funding over the past two years. The newest awards were: $4,800 to Moss Elementary for software to promote English proficiency; $8,900 to Hillside Elementary for books; $5,000 for Robert Frost Elementary for books; and $3,700 for Jackling Elementary to purchase microscopes, globes and other equipment for math and science. The foundation is an arm of the Utah League of CUs.

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