Consumer Sentiment Finally Comes Out of a Funk

U.S. consumer sentiment rebounded significantly in April as
expectations soared due to the economic stimulus and related programs.
The trend reversed seven months of crumbling confidence that brought one
index to its lowest level in February. The RBC “CASH Index” (Consumer
Attitudes and Spending by Household) posted its first significant
improvement since September 2008. Overall consumer confidence advanced
30.1 points, bringing the RBC “CASH Index” to 38.3 in April, compared to
8.2 in March. Consumer sentiment was bolstered by a 58.3 point increase
in Americans’ expectations for the future. Americans’ attitudes about
current conditions and investing also increased in the past month, but
they continue to worry about jobs. The RBC “Current Conditions Index”
improved markedly in April to 35.8, compared to 14.8 in March. The RBC
“Investment Index” rose to a reading of 44.8, up 20.2 points from 24.6
in March. The RBC “Jobs Index” edged up 4.4 points in April to 45.2,
compared to 40.8 last month.

RBC CASH INDEX
Apr 08: 29.5
May 08: 39.0
Jun 08: 22.5
Jul 08: 14.6
Aug 08: 33.8
Sep 08: 69.2
Oct 08: 37.0
Nov 08: 34.7
Dec 08: 15.3
Jan 09: 13.3
Feb 09: 1.6
Mar 09: 8.2
Apr 09: 38.3
Source: RBC CASH

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MORPHOTRAK

Sagem Securite and Printrak have joined forces to create “MorphoTrak” and will offer
biometric and identification management products and solutions to
Federal, state and local governments, and commercial markets.
“MorphoTrak’s” markets include law enforcement, border
control, civil identification, facility/IT security and access control.
MorphoTrak and its global parent, Sagem Securite, are providers of large fingerprint identification systems, facial and iris
recognition, as well as identification technologies such as smart cards,
secure travel documents, e-passports, and drivers’ licenses.

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MC GTO EXEC

MasterCard’s St. Louis-based Global Technology and Operations has hired Antonio Ferri, previously with Dante Consulting, as group executive of Enterprise Architecture. Ferri will direct the MasterCard IT roadmap and oversee components of the software development lifecycle and continue the implementation of advanced processes to improve business and IT operations. Ferri comes to MasterCard GTO with nearly 30 years of experience in IT. He will manage and work with IT business partners, suppliers and vendors critical to the success of the MasterCard computing infrastructure. Ferri earlier served as chief development officer and chief enterprise architect at PriceWaterhouseCoopers with responsibility both for U.S. and European territories.

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Banks and Equens Team for Cross-Border Payments

Payment processor Equens and the U.S. Federal Reserve Banks have signed an MOU to begin processing payments between the U.S. and Europe.
Starting in early 2010, both parties will offer banks a cost-efficient channel for processing cross-border payments in multiple currencies, including the US dollar and euro. Cross-border payments can be characterized by relatively low transaction volumes and high associated fixed costs. The strategic partnership between the Federal Reserve Banks and Equens is based on an increasing market demand for efficient processing of low-value cross-border payments on a global level. Both organizations are also members of the International Payments Framework and are a collaborative effort among public and private payment groups in Africa, Europe, North America and South America. The cross-border service offering will support banks in further reducing their processing cost base, and strengthen their competitive position in the market.

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VISA NFC

Visa has introduced the world’s first commercial Visa mobile payments service for POS using NFC technology. Maxis, Nokia and Maybank have teamed with Visa to offer “Visa payWave” on mobile devices. Maxis is the largest wireless carrier in Malaysia with more than 11 million subscribers, Nokia is the world’s leading handset manufacturer and Maybank is a top financial institution in Malaysia. Maybank Visa account holders can download their “Visa payWave” credit account details directly to their “Nokia 6212” classic handset over the Maxis wireless network. Once the account has been personalized on the phone, account holders can then begin to make purchases at any one of the 1,800 merchant outlets that currently accept “Visa payWave” in Malaysia. The contactless chip embedded in the device will also power a number of additional functions, including a contactless transit application that enables Malaysian commuters to pay for charges while using metropolitan transit systems, bus terminals, highway toll gates and car park facilities at more than 3,000 contactless payment touch points throughout Malaysia. Maxis has branded these mobile payment services under the name Maxis “FastTap.”

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FEB LEI

The Conference Board Leading Economic
Index decreased 5.4% and The Conference Board
Coincident Economic Index decreased 1.9% in February.
Four of the ten components that make up the LEI increased in February. The positive
contributors to the index include the new orders for machinery and
construction component, the (inverted) business failures, real money
supply, and the interest rate spread. The negative contributors include
real operating profits, the index of overtime worked, the six-month
growth rate of labor productivity, the Tankan business conditions
survey, dwelling units started, and stock prices.
and there were large downward revisions to the previous five
months as actual data for operating profits for the fourth quarter of
2008 became available. The Conference Board CEI for Japan also declined sharply. Industrial
production has fallen at a record pace for three consecutive months, and
it is now 30% below its January 2008 level. The six-month growth
rate of the index fell to -7.9% (a -15.1% annual rate),
the lowest since the index began in 1965. In addition, the weaknesses
among the coincident indicators continued to be very widespread in the
last six months. At the same time, real GDP contracted at a 12.1%
annual rate in the fourth quarter of 2008, the largest drop in 35 years.
The growth rate of real GDP averaged -4.2% (annual rate) in 2008.
The Conference Board LEI for Japan now stands at 71.5 (2004=100)

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VIETCOMBANK & EZIO

Gemalto is providing its “Ezio Strong Authentication Server” to the Bank for Foreign Trade of Vietnam (Vietcombank). This
comprehensive two-factor authentication solution takes advantage of
MasterCard’s Chip Authentication Program (CAP) and Visa’s Dynamic
Passcode Authentication (DPA), both of which are part of the EMV
standard. To create a more consistent and unified way to access their services,
users use the same corporate EMV microprocessor card for their purchases
as well as access their online banking service. Users simply insert
their corporate card into a custom designed handheld card reader to
generate a one-time password for secure access to their online banking
service and the system provides one-time-password (OTP) and digital signature
capabilities.

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First Data Clears the Hypercom T4205

First Data has given “Class B+” certification to Hypercom’s
Optimum T4205 with SPOS32 software. The PCI PED-approved 32-bit Optimum T4205 features a compact form
factor, clear and intuitive keypad, large 24MB memory and high speed
processor for fast transactions and multi-application support, all
secured by “HyperSafe32” RSA-based security
infrastructure. The certification opens an important sales channel for Hypercom’s entry-level dial device
through First Data’s large customer base of more than 5.4 million
merchant locations.

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OXFAM GIFT CARDS

Oxfam Canada and Shoppers Drug Mart have introduced a gift card can be
used to purchase goats, chickens,
donkeys and other essential supplies for families living in poverty
while honouring your friends and family too. The new card is a component
of Oxfam’s highly successful Oxfam Unwrapped
program where consumers can purchase gifts online to make a difference
for women and men living in poverty around the world. The Oxfam gift
card retails for $58 – the average cost of delivering a
goat to a needy family in the developing world. When the card recipient
goes online to redeem their gift card, they can choose from a wide range
of virtual gifts including: mosquito nets, literacy kits and even tools
to help farmers. Oxfam Canada is a non-governmental aid organization
that works with partner organizations in over 20 countries around the
world.

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FEB LEI

The Conference Board Leading Economic
Index for the U.K. declined 0.6% in February to 92.1, following a 0.5% fall in January and a 0.7 percent
drop in December. Order book volume, stock prices and consumer
confidence made the largest negative contributions to the index, more
than offsetting a positive contribution from the yield spread. The LEI has declined for 16 consecutive
months, while the The Conference Board Coincident Economic
Index declined 0.1% in February, after remaining unchanged in January
and increasing 0.2%in December. The coincident economic index
now stands at 104.1 (2004 = 100).

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CROSS BORDER PAYMENTS

Payment processor Equens and the U.S. Federal Reserve Banks have signed
an MOU to begin processing payments between the U.S. and Europe.
Cross-border payments
can be characterised by relatively low transaction volumes and high
associated fixed costs. The strategic partnership between the Federal
Reserve Banks and Equens
is based on an increasing market demand for efficient processing of
low-value cross-border payments on a global level. Both organisations
are also members of the International Payments Framework and are a
collaborative effort among public and private payment groups in Africa,
Europe, North America and South America. The cross-border service offering
will support banks in further reducing their processing cost base, and
strengthen their competitive position in
the market. The Federal Reserve Banks are collectively the largest ACH
operator in
the United States, with almost 40 years of experience and ACH expertise.

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