VENTURE INFOTEK & DISCOVER

Venture Infotek Transaction Management and the Diners Club International
business unit of Discover Financial Services have signed a long-term
merchant acquiring agreement. With these agreements, the partnership is
intent on generating more acceptance opportunities for both Diners Club
and Discover cardmembers, for which Venture Infotek will provide single
source electronic payment services. Cardmembers eventually will be able
to use their cards at Venture Infotek merchants in India. Venture
Infotek Global was incorporated in 1997 and pioneered the introduction
of e-Payments in India through what has reached over 165,000 Merchant
locations across India.

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NFC CONFERENCE

The NFC Forum non-profit industry association that advances NFC
technology is conducting a “Spotlight Session” for Developers from 9AM
to 5PM on September 4th at the Lasaretti Hotelli-Ravintolaat. Held in
Oulu, Finland, the Conference is the second in a series of Forum
Spotlight Sessions and will feature NFC experts providing practical
knowledge, opportunities to network and hands-on training for NFC
application developers. Costing NFC Forum members US$70 (€50),
non-members US$210 (€150) and students $70 (€50), the event will also
allow attendees to learn about the market for NFC and sample use cases
already deployed in more than 100 projects around the world; update on
the status of NFC Forum technical specifications from the Forum’s
Technical Committee Chair; preview the compliance program; briefing on
tools and certificates for secure element programming; to learn to
program a secure element applet; and listen to a panel discussion on
best practices from recent implementations. Presenters and panelists
represent Nokia; the NFC Forum; MasterCard; Sony; University of
Hagenberg; Heikki Huomo; SCM Microsystems; Visa; and ViVOtech.

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Chase Sapphire Ad Campaign Launches Today

Chase Card Services has officially introduced its new rewards cards targeted to households with at least $120,000 in annual income. The new affluent “Chase Sapphire” cards have no preset limit, offers personalized customer service and is linked Chase’s “Ultimate Rewards” program. The card is available as “Sapphire” and for a $95 annual fee as the “Sapphire Preferred.” Both cards offer unrestricted benefits, including no annual spending caps, points that never expire and no travel restrictions or blackout dates on travel reward redemptions. “Sapphire Preferred” offers one-to-one point transfer to airline and hotel programs, points worth 25% more when redeeming for travel online, and a spend bonus of 10,000 points for customers spending $50,000 annually. The new cards are being promoted through an integrated marketing campaign across multiple channels including: television, print, newspaper, online, events, public relations, and direct marketing. Chase is also partnering with the Travel Channel on a multifaceted campaign to promote Chase Sapphire through numerous product integrations in Travel Channel’s signature shows and inclusion in Travel Channel’s new brand campaign – “Catch it.”

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Recession Appears to be Bottoming Out

A monthly index suggests that the recession is bottoming out. The Conference Board “Leading Economic Index” increased 60 basis points in July, following an 80 bps gain in June, and a 120 bps rise in May.
It has increased for four consecutive months. The six-month change in the index has risen to 3% (a 6.2% annual rate) in the period through July, up substantially from -2.8% (a -5.4% annual rate) for the previous six months. However, the “Coincident Economic Index” was flat in July – the first time it did not register a decline since October 2008.
Six of the ten indicators that make up “The Conference Board LEI” for the U.S. increased in July. The positive contributors – beginning with the largest positive contributor – were interest rate spread, average weekly initial claims for unemployment insurance (inverted), average weekly manufacturing hours, index of supplier deliveries (vendor performance), stock prices, and manufacturers’ new orders for nondefense capital goods.

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WIRECARD 2Q/09

Wirecard has reported its 2Q/09 and 1H/09 sales revenues up 14.9% to EUR
54.5 million and 17.4% to EUR103.6 million, respectively. Having
outperformed figures from the year-ago-period, consolidated sales
revenues in 2Q/08 was EUR47.4 million while 1H/08 figures were EUR 88.3
million. Meanwhile, EBITDA increased 13.0% to EUR14.6 million for the
quarter from EUR12.9 million last year while it increased 15.4% for the
half to EUR27.4 million from EUR23.7 million the year prior. The share
of this consolidated sales revenues contributed by the Wirecard’s
“Acquiring & Issuing” segment increased by 87.1% in 1H/09 Y/Y from
EUR16.7 million to 31.2 million euros. Wirecard’s “Acquiring & Issuing”
segment EBIT contribution amounted to EUR8.5 million for the half, up
47.4% Y/Y from EUR5.8 million. The Management Board of Wirecard AG
affirms its forecast of EBIT growth of 10-25% in the current financial
year.

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JUNE DEBT

The latest credit card data indicate a recovery may finally be underway as credit card gross dollar volume rose 9.8% and credit card outstandings edged up by 2.0% in June, compared to one-year ago. Despite setting a new high in June, credit card loan growth remains sluggish.
Annual growth in May was 2.1%, compared to an annual gain of 2.3% for April and 4.4% for March. According to the Reserve Bank of Australia credit card balances posted A$44.8 billion for June versus A$43.9 billion one-year ago. Credit card volume came in at A$19.3 billion, compared to $18.3 billion for June 2008. Credit limits now stand at A$124.7 billion, compared to A$119.2 billion in June 2008. According to the RBA there are currently 14.3 million credit card and charge card accounts in Australia, compared to 14.0 million one-year ago.

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BillMyParents Lands a New Director

Socialwise, parent company of alternative payment provider
BillMyParents, has appointed Mark Miller, previously with DC Shoes, as a
member of the Board of Directors. In this role, he will use his
extensive network of online merchants, Actions Sports athletes, and
industry connections to position BillMyParents as a leading youth
payment system. Miller has over twenty-five years experience working
in Action Sports and youth culture businesses. As a senior executive,
Mark focused
on developing and executing go-to-market strategies for consumer goods
companies. Most recently, he served as the Senior Vice President and
General Manager of DC Shoes, a subsidiary of Quiksilver Inc., where he
managed the Americas’ division including strategic partnerships with
both retail and online distribution channels.

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FTC Sets New Fees for Telemarketers

As of October 1st, the FTC will apply new fees for telemarketers that
access numbers on the “Do Not Call Registry”. The first five area codes
are free, and organizations that are exempt from the Do Not Call rules,
such as some charitable organizations, may obtain the entire list for
free. Telemarketers must subscribe each year for access to the Registry
numbers. The access fees for fiscal year 2010 (from October 1, 2009 to
September
30, 2010) are based on the Do-Not-Call Registry Fee Extension Act of
2007. Under
the Act’s provisions, in fiscal year 2010, telemarketers will pay $55
for access
to Registry phone numbers in a single area code, up to a maximum charge
of $15,058
for all area codes nationwide. Telemarketers will pay $27 per area code
for numbers they
subscribe to receive during the second half of the 12-month subscription
period.

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Americans Set to Pull-Back on Holiday Spend

While most retailers are resigned to very weak holiday sales, a new
survey confirms Americans plan to pull-back again this year. Only about
half of American adults plan to spend $300 or more on holiday gifts, a
10% decrease from what Americans last year said they typically spend,
according to a survey commissioned by ING DIRECT. Spending between $500
and $999 is expected to change from 25%, which
Americans in 2008 said they typically spend, to 23% this year. Spending
$1,000 or more is also projected to change from 12%, which Americans in
2008 said they typically spend, to 10% this year. The ING survey also
found that every region of the country plans to spend less this holiday
season. Additionally, The survey revealed that 84% of Americans agree
that having money in the bank makes them happier than spending money on
things they do not need.

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