The search for customer service, excellence and innovation in card & payments has begun, with the call for entries for The Card & Payments Awards 2014 now launched.

Deadline for entries is Thursday 3 October 2013.

The aim of the Card & Payments Awards, now in its ninth year, is to search out and reward players in the UK and Irish card and payments market who respond to customers’ needs with responsible lending practices, product and technological innovation, and operational excellence. The Card & Payments Awards is open to entries from credit, debit, prepaid and charge card issuers as well as merchant acquirers and other payment providers in the UK and Republic of Ireland.

TSYS is the main sponsor of the awards, which will continue to be judged by an independent panel, chaired by John Woods, chairman of leading financial information provider Moneyfacts.

The panel includes industry representatives from both UK and Irish umbrella payment bodies, The UK Cards Association and Payments Council and IPSO, and all four main card payment organisations, American Express, Diners Club international, MasterCard and Visa, as well as the Electronic Money Association, the Prepaid International Forum, the Mobile Marketing Association and consumer-focused organisations.

Categories cover product development, technology, innovation, security, marketing, CRM, customer service and responsible lending practices. The awards also include dedicated categories for alternative payments providers, new debit card programmes and for initiatives launched by merchant acquirers.

There are two ‘By Nomination’ categories: Industry Personality of the Year salutes an individual for a significant contribution, while the Lifetime Achievement Award seeks to underscore a significant and consistent contribution made across the span of a career.

The awards process will culminate in a black-tie Awards Dinner & Ceremony next February at The Grosvenor House Hotel. The event, which traditionally sells out well in advance, attracted some 1,350 people this year.

Martin Fielding, CEO of awards organiser Card Partnerships, said: “Once again, there is a great deal of anticipation about the entries we expect to receive for 2014. Banks, Issuers and Payments brands continue to work hard to differentiate themselves in a demanding trading environment and these challenges stimulate creativity and innovation. Whatever the achievement or innovation from whatever functional area, we look forward to seeing some of the exciting work being undertaken in the UK and Irish payments industries.”

He added: “The judging process  for The Card & Payments Awards subjects all entries to rigorous scrutiny and as a result being shortlisted, let alone winning an award,  is a great achievement to which all those in the industry can aspire.”

The categories are designed to reflect a range of disciplines and activities that are common to issuers, payment card brands and payments services operating across the UK and Irish markets.

The categories, sponsored by Affinion International, American Express, Aspire Lifestyles, Diners Club International, First Data, FIS, Gemalto, Giesecke & Devrient, Ingenico (also a Silver Sponsor), MasterCard, TSYS Managed Services EMEA, The Ashton Partnership and Visa, are as follows:

- Best new credit card product of the year

- Best new prepaid card product of the year

- Best new debit card programme of the year

- Best card design of the year

- Best card marketing campaign of the year

- Best card benefits programme of the year

- Best card cross-selling programme of the year

- Best affinity or co-branded card programme

- Best business card programme

- Best CSR programme of the year

- Best initiative in mobile payments

- Best merchant acquiring initiative

- Best alternative payments programme

- Best security or anti-fraud development

- Best technology initiative of the year

- Best industry innovation of the year

- Best achievement in customer service

- Best CRM programme

- Most responsible credit card lending practices

- Best overseas payments programme

- Industry personality of the year (by nomination)

- Lifetime Achievement Award (by nomination)

The deadline for entries is 17.00 on Thursday 3 October 2013.

In addition to category sponsors The Card & Payments Awards has secured valued sponsorship from: VocaLink (Reception Sponsor) and Contis Group (After Show Party Sponsor).

The winners will be announced at a black-tie Awards Ceremony and Dinner on Thursday 6 February 2014 at The Grosvenor House, London.

For more information, or for details on how to submit an awards entry, visit the updated website at www.cardandpaymentsawards.com