NACS Says GAO Study Confirms Hidden Swipe Fees

The National Association of Convenience Stores says the GAO report
confirmed many of the most harmful aspects of unfair, hidden fees
swipe fees that are incurred every time a consumer pays by debit or
credit card. The report shows that the credit card companies and their
issuing banks mislead the public about their increasing rates and about
the benefits of credit cards to businesses. The report also outlines an
unfair, anti-competitive system that hurts Main Street businesses and
their customers in order to pad the banks’ bottom lines, with little
relation to the actual costs of processing payments. The report makes it
clear that unless Congress acts to bring competition and transparency
into the interchange system, the big banks and credit card companies
will keep lining their pockets at the expense of small businesses and
consumers nationwide.

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The Equifax Credit Score Card is Launched

Equifax has introduced “The Equifax Credit Score Card” that provides consumers with a free
snapshot of their credit score range and a high-level explanation of their credit
standing. Access to the credit score range also includes a description of some of
the key factors that may be impacting the credit score, as well as a customized
recommendation of an Equifax product that can help the consumer better
understand, track and protect their credit. Equifax Credit Score Card is absolutely free–consumers are not required
to provide their credit card information in order to receive it and are under no
obligation to purchase other Equifax products.

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NRF Says GAO Study Reveals Interchange True Cost

The National Retail Federation says the GAP study shines a spotlight on
credit card fees and their cost to consumers. the NRF says interchange
is a fee averaging 2% that Visa and MasterCard banks charge
merchants each time one of their credit cards is swiped to pay for a
purchase. The credit card industry’s interchange or “swipe fee” revenue
has tripled from the $16 billion collected when NRF began tracking the
fees in 2001 to $48 billion last year. Visa and MasterCard rules
effectively force merchants to pass the fees on to consumers by
requiring them to be included in the advertised price of merchandise
and making cash discounts difficult. As a result, the NRF says the
average household paid an estimated $427 in higher prices last year, up
from $159 in 2001.

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InstaSave Powers Lowes Foods Fresh Rewards

Digital CRM marketer InstaSave has launched digital coupons delivered
via mobile phone text messaging to Lowes Foods Fresh Rewards customers. Consumers
that receive targeted text messages can reply with a key word to have the digital coupon
automatically connected to their loyalty account and ready to scan at
checkout. InstaSave is expanding its targeted
cross-channel customer CRM platform for broader distribution through
multi-channel personalization. This new text messaging capability for digital coupons
now adds all mobile phones to InstaSave’s existing email, smart phone and
Internet channels of digital coupon delivery. InstaSave partnered with Mobile Discovery to
power this new innovative mobile channel. Mobile Discovery is working with
InstaSave to expand the mobile text messaging program to include QR codes and image recognition
capabilities.

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INTERAC & CARD CONDUCT

Interac Association has disclosed the importance of addressing the
changes in the debit card marketplace in Canada and is prepared to work
with the Government in regards to the Card Conduct Code. Interac is
prepared to explore the feasibility of the merchant routing proposal to
ensure goals of transparency and choice are fully achieved. INTERAC
debit system serves millions of Canadians everyday, given nearly 60% of
all card payment transactions in Canada are debit. Given Canada now has
a multi-network debit environment, all competitors should play by the
same transparent rules providing adequate protection for merchants and
consumers. Because competitors do not abide by the same rules, INTERAC
is operating at a distinct disadvantage to its US-based multinational
competitors.

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AmEx OPEN Enables Small Biz Gov Contracts

American Express OPEN has launched “OPEN for Government Contracts:
Victory in Procurement(VIP) for Small Business”, created to enable small business
owners to capitalize on growth opportunities with government contracts.
Despite the enormous growth opportunity presented by federal contracts,
40% of business owners do not have any knowledge of how to apply for federal
contracts. In addition, 40% are not sure their product or service is purchased by the
federal government, according to a SCORE survey of 1100 small business owners.
The VIP program has set the following goals: educate and help one million business owners better understand the
contracting process; encourage 100,000 businesses owners to get “contract-ready” by
registering on the CCR or obtaining the proper certification(s) for their
businesses; facilitate up to 10,000 teaming, mentoring and coaching
opportunities for businesses and help business owners secure $1 billion in government
contract and sub-contract commitments. By partnering with Business Matchmaking,
SCORE “Counselors to America’s Small Business” and Women Impacting
Public Policy (WIPP), OPEN®’s VIP program is expected
to help business owners at every level of contract readiness access as much as
$1 billion in procurement opportunities.

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DEUTSCHE BANK & GEMALTO

Deutsche Bank has been appointed the Depositary Bank for the Level I
American Depositary Receipt (ADR) program of Gemalto. Gemalto digital
security had 2008 annual revenues of EUR1.68 billion and 10,000
employees operating out of 75 offices, research and service centers in
40 countries. Providing mobile connectivity, identity/data protection,
credit card safety, health and transportation services,
e-government and national security, Gemalto provides governments,
wireless operators, banks and enterprises a wide range of secure
personal devices such as Subscriber Identification Modules (SIM),
Universal Integrated Circuit Card (UICC) in mobile phones, smart banking
cards, smart card access badges, electronic passports, and USB tokens
for online identity protection.

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WalMart/MoneyGram Attack Western Union with New Pricing

Walmart has taken on Western Union full-force with a new rate of $7 to transfer up to $200 to more than 190 countries. In partnership with MoneyGram, Walmart is offering the discounted rate at more than 3,500 stores across the U.S. effective today. The companies say the new rate is 40% off the going rates charged by competitors. Walmart has entered the financial services market in a big way over the past two years, offering check cashing starting at $3; three-day, next-day and same-day bill payment delivery options, with prices starting at 88 cents and the “Walmart MoneyCard” a reloadable, pre-paid Visa debit card, available for $3. MoneyGram has 186,000 agent locations in 190 countries and territories. WalMart says the holiday season is one of the busiest times of year to send money. According to Walmart’s internal research, during the month of December the number of transfers typically increases by 14% over the previous 11 month average.

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SEPT DEBT

The recovery is sending mixed signals as credit card gross dollar volume was flat in September while credit card outstandings rose by 22 basis points in September, after rising 18 basis points in August, compared to one-year ago. Despite setting a new high in June, credit card loan growth has been sluggish in 2009. Annual growth in July was 1.6%, June was 2.0%, compared to May at 2.1%, 2.3% for April and 4.4% for March. According to the Reserve Bank of Australia credit card balances posted at A$45.1 billion for September versus A$44.1 billion one-year ago. Credit card volume came in at A$19.2 billion, compared to A$18.9 billion in August and and A$19.2 billion for September 2008. Credit limits now stand at A$125.6 billion, compared to A$121.3 billion in September 2008. According to the RBA there are currently 14.4 million credit card and charge card accounts in Australia, compared to 14.1 million one-year ago.

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REDECARD & PAYPASS

ViVOtech NFC and contactless payment systems contactless technology has
been selected to operate the MasterCard “PayPass” technology in Brazil
in conjunction with Redecard, the acquirer, at multiple merchant
locations. With 1.8 billion transactions per year in 1.3 million
merchant locations across Latin America, Redecard used ViVOtech
contactless technology to enable acceptance of MasterCard PayPass at
multiple locations. MasterCard Worldwide, Credicard, Citibank’s credit
card administrator for the Brazilian market, and Redecard have announced
the launch of MasterCard PayPass contactless payment technology in Rio
de Janeiro for public transportation and other quick service merchants.
ViVOtech’s infrastructure and application software products for mobile
payments, promotions and marketing enable its 550,000 reader-installed
base in 35 countries to function as communication and marketing devices,
communicating with consumers using Near Field Communication and interim
sticker technology enabled phones.

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