Amazon Payments to Expand 1-Click Checkout

Amazon Payments has released its “Amazon Mobile Payments Service to enhance Amazon’s 1-Click checkout experience for customers. Amazon MPS is built on the same flexible, reliable, and secure Amazon
Payments infrastructure that many developers and businesses are using
today for their PC based checkout experience. The Amazon Mobile Payments
Service optimizes the check out experience for mobile devices and
provides tens of millions of Amazon.com customers the peace of mind and
convenience of shopping on mobile third party sites using information
from their Amazon.com account. Amazon Mobile Payments Service provides developers and merchants with a
payment option for their customers that is as easy and familiar as the
checkout experience on Amazon.com – including the convenience of
Amazon’s 1-Click checkout. After signing in from an Amazon MPS enabled
device or mobile application, customers are automatically able to make
future purchases from their mobile devices using 1-Click functionality.
Through a simple set of API’s and an optimized mobile browser
experience, developers and merchants can easily extend single or
multi-use payment options to their customers. Developers and merchants
who already offer Amazon Payments on their website can easily add the
new mobile payment option for their customers without any additional
backend technology development.

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More Prepaid Card Issuers Roll-Back Fees

Prepaid Card Holdings is offering a no monthly fee plan for some of its
cash loading customers. Prepaid Card Holdings will waive its monthly
fee when customers deposit either $350 a month or more by direct deposit
or $700 or more in cash each month. For consumers that don’t meet the
monthly deposit minimum, Prepaid Card Holdings charges only $5.95 per
month. Prepaid Card Holdings is a publicly traded holding company whose
current holdings consist of a 100% interest in Merchant Processing
International Inc. DBA Bank Freedom and the Berman Marketing Group, a
multi-channel direct market firm.

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AmEx President Alfred Kelly Decides to Exit

American Express’ President has resigned and will leave the company early next year to explore a CEO opportunity elsewhere. With the departure of Alfred Kelly, the Company announced several senior leadership and organizational changes. The company’s global consumer, small business and network businesses will report to Edward Gilligan, vice chairman. Mr. Gilligan had previously led the global B2B Group.
A new “Global Services” organization that includes company-wide customer service, technologies, operations, business processing and information management will report to Stephen Squeri, who has been promoted to group president. A new “Enterprise Growth” organization is being created to leverage existing assets, generate incremental fee revenue and drive the company’s entry into new payment areas and related businesses. A senior level executive from outside American Express is being recruited to head this organization. Judson Linville continues as president and CEO, U.S. Consumer Services, reporting to Mr. Gilligan. He is responsible for the consumer card, “Membership Rewards” and consumer travel businesses in the company’s largest market and for the prepaid card and travelers cheque businesses globally.

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Holiday Retail Sales to Dip for a 2nd Year

Holiday retail sales this year will likely decline 1.0% from the year-ago period, which saw a -2.8% Y/Y decline, representing the first back-to-back decline in holiday retail sales in the last four decades. Availability of personal credit is a significant factor in these findings, with credit card companies down on raising rates/fees and even canceling cards in reaction to recent credit card legislation. Consumer credit fell by a record $21.6 billion in July to $2.5 trillion. Other major factors impacting 2009 holiday retail performance, according to Archstone Consulting management strategy and operations consultancy, include the savings rate, which dipped slightly to 4.2% from 4.5% in June, but it is still high compared to a Y/Y 2.6% savings rate; the US unemployment rate, which was at 9.7% in August having dropped from 61.9% in September 2008; and real wages having plummeted 4.1% in August Y/Y.
Archstone notes that with 7 million fewer people employed in the U.S this holiday season compared to 2008, many consumers will remain under considerable financial stress and will stay frugal.

RETAIL SALES FORECAST
2005: +4.0%
2006: +2.5%
2007: +3.0%
2008: -2.8%
2009: -1.0%
Source: Archstone Consulting

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Discover Named Most Innovative IT User

Discover was listed for the fourth consecutive year on the 2009
InformationWeek 500 annual list of the most innovative users of
information technology. This recognition was thanks to Discover’s
customized online tools helping consumers evaluate spending behavior,
manage debt and make smart financial decisions. These new tools were
Discover’s first move toward Web 2.0 components and include its “Spend
Analyzer Tool,” with an interactive summary to help consumers get a
better understanding of their spending habits by organizing all of their
Discover card purchases into categories such as travel, supermarkets and
retail merchandise. Meanwhile, Discover’s “Paydown Planner” gives
cardholders a customized look at how long it will take to pay down a
balance over a specific amount of time.

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Mercator Advisory Group Adds a New Exec

Mercator Advisory Group has hired Bob Landry, previously with CGI, as
vice president, Banking Group Services.
Landry joined Mercator from CGI, a global diversified supplier of end to
end IT and business process services with over $4 billion in annual
revenues where he served as partner, director of banking and financial
markets strategy. While at CGI, Landry lead CGI’s US based banking and
investment strategy group and served as a senior executive consultant.
Before CGI, Landry worked for the TowerGroup from 1995 until 2006 where
he was charged with building several research practices covering core
systems, customer strategies, delivery channels, consumer lending,
retail payments, emerging technologies, financial services strategies
and IT spending. Landry has held positions at Software Services of
America, Henco Software, Honeywell Information Systems and RCA Computer
Systems.

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MILE MAXIMIZER

Aeroplan financial cards and travel partners have partnered to launch
its “Mile Maximizer” Bonus Aeroplan Mile, allowing members to earn over
4 miles per dollar spent when they use their CIBC or American Express
Aeroplan payment card. The “Mile Maximizer” bonus plan is eligible for
purchases made through aircanada.com, Avis, Delta Hotels and Resorts and
Fairmont Hotels & Resorts and runs until December 20. Namely,
cardholders are allowed to earn 2X Aeroplan Miles on aircanada.com when
purchasing an Air Canada flight within North America; to earn 2X
Aeroplan Miles with Avis Car Rental; to earn 2X Aeroplan Miles with
Delta Hotels and Resorts/Fairmont Hotels & Resorts; to earn 2X Aeroplan
Miles when using the CIBC “Aerogold Visa” or CIBC “Aerogold Visa
Infinite” to pay for the eligible offers; and to earn 1 Bonus Aeroplan
Mile for every $1 charged to an American Express “AeroplanPlus
Platinum”, American Express “AeroplanPlus Gold” or, American Express
“AeroplanPlus” Card.

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INTELLILINK SPEND

A new global information tool that provides extensive reporting and expense management capabilities for organizations of all sizes on a single scalable platform has been released the world’s leading infrastructure payments network. Visa’s new “IntelliLink Spend Management” platform integrates with the entire suite of Visa B2B payment products and is available to commercial card issuers around the globe immediately. The new platform offers expense management capabilities, including compliance triggers, receipt imaging, multi-level transaction data and direct ERP integration; enhanced data capture, matching and delivery; integration of non-card spend to support sourcing analytics across the entire accounts payable function; multiple branding options for issuers, including tools that can be customized to support differentiation strategies; dashboard management and flexible reporting tools, and alerts for cardholders and commercial program managers; and options for extending capabilities beyond payment, including travel booking integration. Visa “IntelliLink Spend Management” is provided through an alliance with Spendvision.

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CBL Malls to Offer AmEx Gift Cards

TN-based CBL Malls is now issuing American Express Gift Cards.The CBL Select
Gift Cards will replace the current CBL Malls Gift Card, which has been
offered since 2004. Previously, CBL Malls Gift Cards were only redeemable at retailers and
restaurants that were located at a CBL property and that accepted
American Express. The new CBL Select Gift Card will be redeemable at any
location that accepts American Express. In addition, the new CBL Select
Gift Card will not have any monthly service fees deducted over the life
of the card – a first for this type of program.

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