Safe Credit Cards Project Details Released

The Pew Safe Credit Cards Project has released an evaluation of the 12
top card issuers. Based on its research, Pew developed a set
of Safe Credit Card Standards and is recommending immediate legislative
action from Congress. Findings from the research include: 100% of cards
contained features that the Federal Reserve has
determined cause substantial harm to consumers, with 93% of cards
allowed the issuer to raise any interest rate at
any time by changing the account agreement and 87% of cards allowed the
issuer to impose automatic penalty interest rate
increases on all balances, even if the account is not 30 days or more
past due. The median allowable penalty interest rate was 27.99% per year.

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MasterCard and Fifth Third Extend Deal

MasterCard Worldwide signed a multi-year contract extension with
OH-based Fifth Third Bank. Under the agreement, Fifth Third Bank will
continue its partnership with MasterCard, issuing credit and debit
MasterCard cards for both consumers and corporations. Fifth Third holds
$119 billion in assets, and operating 16 affiliates
with 1,311 full-service banking centers in the U.S., has been issuing
MasterCard products since 1980.

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Material Deterioration Seen in Losses

U.S. credit card asset quality metrics surpassed historical peaks in the first quarter of 2009 as the unemployment rate surged 130 basis points, according to Fitch Ratings. Fitch believes end-of-quarter delinquency levels, combined with low recovery prospects, signal material deterioration in card losses in the second quarter. Higher portfolio losses combined with lower spend volume and smaller loan portfolios are expected to challenge card segment profitability in 2009 and 2010. Purchase volume dropped an average of 5% sequentially at the top six card issuers in the fourth quarter of 2008, and fell another 14.2% in the first quarter of 2009. These spending trends are expected to continue over the balance of the year. Fitch expects issuers with less dependence on interest spread income, like American Express Company, will fare relatively better from an earnings standpoint.

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VERISMART VISA

Auriemma Consulting Group has released the 2nd annual “Issuer Brand Index report”, which measures
consumer perception of top credit card issuers in the UK. This year’s
report found that Barclaycard retained its spot as the strongest credit
card brand in the UK. This position was partially supported by the
lender’s large market share of credit cards and a high level of brand
awareness, Barclaycard also earned the top ranking among respondents who
do not hold Barclaycard-branded cards. Capital One retained the #2 position in the IBI this year, driven
primarily by high perceived brand quality and awareness. Additionally,
card usage among Capital One cardholders was high enough to earn the
lender the #2 spot in that category. The lender with the highest card
usage rate was NatWest, which was the primary reason that they rose to
the #3 spot from #5 in last year’s study.

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KingsIsle Takes Gift Cards to 7-Eleven

Online entertainment company KingsIsle Entertainment has announced that
$10 prepaid “Wizard101” gift cards are now available in
7-Eleven stores nationwide. Each card offers a limited edition
collectible pet available upon redemption from one of four special sets:
“Protectors”, “Assistants”, “Adventurers”, and “Heroes”. Pets from these
sets will give players better powers such as increased accuracy,
defense, damage, and a special spell card that can be used during duels.
The gift card pets will be available in colors, patterns, and clothing
that cannot be found anywhere else in the game. Wizard101 is a
family-friendly virtual world of wizardry in which magic comes to life
in a quest that involves a massive cast of good, evil and frequently
silly characters.

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ARM Industry Index Falls 3.1% in Feb

The “Kaulkin Ginsberg Index” of economic conditions affecting the accounts receivables management industry, continued its decline from the month prior. The updated February figure for the KGI shows the index fell 36.5 points from January to 1128.5 in February, a decline of 3.1%. The February adjusted figure also represented a year-over-year decline of 10.3%. Of the seven contributing economic variables within the index, the February decline was driven by deteriorating macroeconomic conditions that led to higher unemployment, decreased value for the market capitalization of accounts receivable management (ARM) companies, and a decrease in outstanding consumer credit. Nationally, unemployment increased 6.6%, while outstanding consumer credit declined by roughly $7 billion during the month of February.

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Bio-Optronics Offers RxPaying Debit Card

Health care information provider Bio-Optronics now offers click-through
integration to Interspond’s “RxPaying” debit card solution. The “Rx
Paying Debit Card” helps ensure higher patient participation and
retention by providing immediate access to their funds, which can be
used to purchase items, request cash back from a purchase or get cash
from an ATM. It centralizes the process of patient reimbursement for
clinical studies as a whole. This offers a patient
stipend payment alternative which improves efficiency and increases
patient satisfaction. Interspond is a Trial Management Organization for
the pharmaceutical and
biotechnology industries working to identify study opportunities for
sites’ participation.

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Heartland Back On PCI DSS Validated List

Following the completion of its annual “Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard” assessment, Heartland Payment Systems has successfully validated its compliance with “PCI DSS.” As such, Heartland is returning to Visa’s List of “PCI DSS Validated Service Providers”. According to Visa, Heartland will appear on the list today. Heartland Payment Systems delivers credit/debit/prepaid card processing, payroll, check management and payments solutions to more than 250,000 business locations nationwide. Heartland is also the founding supporter of “The Merchant Bill of Rights”.

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CPI Lands Multiple Elan Card Awards

CPI Card Group received
two Élan awards and five finalist positions at the 2009 ICMA Annual
EXPO. The awards recognize the latest advancements and achievements in
card design throughout the industry. CPI’s awards and finalist cards, for five different clients, were in the
following categories: Winner of the “Best Gift & Promotional Card”, Toys Card, manufactured for Walgreens;
“People’s Choice” was a tie, First Data Go-Tag Sticker, manufactured
for First Data; “Best Identification Card” and a finalist for Guanajuato Driver’s License,
manufactured for Latin ID; “Unique Innovation” VSX Sport Card, manufactured for Limited Brands;
“Best Secure Financial Card Design”, Elevate Card, manufactured
for Virgin America and Barclaycard US; “Best Other Secure Card Design”, First Data Go-Tag Sticker,
manufactured for First Data and “People’s Choice”, Toys Card, manufactured for Walgreens
The only award that recognizes card design innovation as well as
technical achievement in the industry, the ICMA Élan Awards honor card
manufacturers and vendors for their excellent card design and innovative
products.

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Portfolio Recovery Q1 Profits Fall 15%

Portfolio Recovery Associates reports a 15% decline in first quarter
net income. However, total revenue in the first quarter increased 6% to
$68.2 million. Cash collections rose 13% to $89.9 million. The Company
purchased $961 million of face-value debt during the first quarter for
$52 million. This debt was acquired in 87 portfolios from 19 different
sellers. PRAA says it was able to produce record cash collections of
nearly $90 million in the first quarter. Call center and other
collections increased 13%, external legal collections decreased 19%,
internal legal collections grew 95% and purchased bankruptcy collections
gained 63% when compared with the year-earlier period. For complete
details on Portfolio Recovery Associates’ first quarter results visit
CardData ([www.carddata.com](http://www.carddata.com)).

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Visa Posts Strong Profits In Weak Economy

Visa reported that first calender quarter net income increased 70% to
$536 million and net operating revenue rose 13% to $1.6 billion,
compared to the same quarter in 2008. However, global transaction growth
for the quarter ended March 31st slowed to an annual rate of 6%,
compared to 8% in the prior quarter and 15% in the year ago quarter. For
the first calendar quarter there were 9.4 billion transactions processed
via VisaNet. Though slightly negative in the U.S., payments volume
continued to grow on a constant dollar basis in all other regions
globally. Visa also notes that processed transactions continued to post
solid growth globally. Visa released fourth calendar quarter
performance data which showed that payments volume growth, on a nominal
basis, was a negative 1% over the prior year at $675 billion. Total
volume, on a nominal basis and inclusive of cash volume, was $1.1
trillion, flat over the prior year. Total cards carrying the Visa brands
rose 8% worldwide over the prior year to over 1.7 billion. Total
transactions increased by 9% over the prior year to 14.9 billion. For
complete details on Visa’s latest performance visit CardData
(www.carddata.com).

VISA-NET TRANSACTIONS (millions)
Mar 30, 2009 9,360
Dec 31, 2008 9,797
Sep 30, 2008 9,590
Jun 30, 2008 9,473
Mar 31, 2008 8,800
Dec 31, 2007 9,094
Sep 30, 2007 8,645
Jun 30, 2007 8,411
Mar 31, 2007 7,645
Note: Visa, Visa Electron, Interlink and PLUS
cards processed on Visa’s networks.
Source: CardData (www.carddata.com)

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Chase Card Services and Acxiom Team

AR-based interactive marketer Acxiom has signed a multi-year renewal with Chase Card Services, the credit card division of
JPMorgan Chase & Co., to provide customer marketing solutions. Acxiom has 40 years of experience and a proven methodology in database
marketing and consumer-centric strategies. The company provides services
for most of the largest U.S. credit card issuers and retail banks.
JPMorgan Chase is a global financial services
firm with assets of $2.1 trillion and operations in more than 60
countries, and the company has issued about 159 million credit cards in
the United States and Canada.

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