Employment Trends Index Moderates in March

The Conference Board “Employment Trends Index” fell again in March and now stands at 90.1. It declined 2.3% from the February revised figure of 92.2, and down 22.1% from a year ago. The 20-month-long decline in the “ETI” is seen in all eight of its components, most notably over the past six months in temporary-help hires and part-time workers for economic reasons. The “Index” aggregates eight labor-market indicators, each of which has proven accurate in its own area. Aggregating individual indicators into a composite index filters out so-called “noise” to show underlying trends more clearly. The conclusion is that the most intense stage of job losses is over.

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Underbanked Overwhelmingly Support Prepaid Cards

The Network Branded Prepaid Card Association and the
Center for Financial Services Innovation have released the results of a survey for underbanked consumers using reloadable prepaid cards that indicate 96%
percent of users said the cards were useful. In the survey, consumers cited a wide range of benefits as reasons for the high satisfaction rates with reloadable prepaid cards, in which 84% cited the protection of funds if the card is lost or stolen; 77% noted the security because of the ability to carry less cash; 76% that indicated budget control because of the ability to spend only the amount that is on the card and 80% have the ability to gain the social benefits of utilizing plastic.

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MasterCard Names a New Asia/Pacific Chief

MasterCard has named Vicky Bindra as president, Asia/Pacific Middle East Africa region. Mr. Bindra joins MasterCard from GE Capital, where he was CEO, President, India, since 2007. Prior to that, he held several senior-level assignments at Citibank in New York and Singapore in consumer banking, credit cards, small business, sales and marketing and private banking. In addition, he was a partner at Bain & Company.
Bindra will join MasterCard on June 1st to replace Andre Sekulic who is retiring.

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Omni Prepaid Earns MC Certification

Omni Prepaid has completed the “MasterCard
Global Vendor Certification Program” for its PA-based “OmniPrint” division. Omni Prepaid was one of the first companies to use
MasterCard’s on-line capture system for the Global Vendor Certification Program. The
company attained the MasterCard certification on March 19th, and is now
certified for card mailing, personalizing, embossing, and encoding. Omni Prepaid’s “OmniPrint” division operates an in-house Visa, and now
MasterCard, secure and certified print on-demand card fulfillment center that can
print gift cards, ID badges, loyalty cards, health insurance cards, merchant cards
and more with 24 hour turn around. In addition to printing they can integrate with a
client’s API, ship directly to the card recipients, customize the mailing and
assist with card design.

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UBC Offers a Free Terminal Program

NJ-based payment processor United Bank Card has launched the “Free Terminal Program” that offers merchants a wide selection of
advanced payment terminals. The terminal choices include the “Verifone Vx510 Dual Com”,
“Hypercom T4210 dial” or “T4220 IP/dial”, “Nurit 8020 wireless”, “Hypercom
T7Plus”, “Nurit 2085”, “Nurit 8320” and “Nurit 8500X”.
With the exception of the “Nurit 8020” wireless device, all of these
terminals can be sold, leased or placed for free with absolutely no
charge to the ISO.

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AmEx Unveils its Small Meetings eXpert

American Express Business Travel has introduced “Small
Meetings eXpert” designed to plan and book meetings with fewer than 50 attendees.
“Small Meetings eXpert” provides real-time connection to browse content,
compare rates and book guest rooms, meeting space, catering and audio
visual equipment. The solution also offers exclusive access to
pre-negotiated rates and packaged deals from the American Express hotel
and meeting supplier network. “Small Meetings eXpert” enables users to place a temporary hold on meeting space.
This allows for the additional time that may be needed to seek internal
approval prior to making a final commitment. Attendee management and
reporting capabilities are also key features of the solution.
Small meetings often represent unseen spend that can equal an incremental two
thirds of a company’s managed meeting spend. Through the control and
transparency provided by “Small Meetings eXpert”, companies are able to
consolidate this previously unseen and unmanaged spend and ultimately
drive significant savings to their bottom line.

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Comdata Teams with Regal Software

Payment technology provider Comdata has partnered with Regal Software
Technologies to enable their customers to expand corporate electronic
accounts payable solutions. With the
electronic payment solution, Comdata electronically generates a unique
MasterCard account number for every vendor payable and provides
settlement data to automate the reconciliation process. The electronic
payment solution is ideal for mid- to large-size
companies and the application modules provided by
Regal allow for seamless integration with “Dynamics” to offer users an
alternative payment method to manual check disbursements.

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Credit Card ABS Metrics Sink Again in Feb

Performance among credit card-backed securities deteriorated across all key metrics, except yield, in February. The charge-off rate increased to its highest level ever and delinquency hit a 20-year high. According to “Moody’s Credit Card Index” charge-offs for February hit 8.82%, compared to 7.74% in the prior month and 5.68% one-year ago. Delinquency rose to 6.14% compared to 5.94% in January and compared to 4.71% for February 2008. Moody’s expects the charge-off rate index to hit double digits by year end. Most analysts are predicting 9% charge-offs by December, but it largely depends on the unemployment rate. Cardholder payments also dropped in February to 15.16%, compared to 16.39% in January. However, yield increased to 17.49% from 16.58% in January. The one-month excess spread declined to 5.62% in February, compared to 5.81% in January.

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NCO Group Posts $287MM Fourth Quarter Loss

NCO Group reported fourth quarter revenues of $362.5 million, a decline of 30% from the year ago quarter. Also, a fourth quarter net loss of $286.6 million and EBITDA of $10.9 million. The net loss
and EBITDA results included a non-cash allowance for impairment of
purchased accounts receivable of $35.7 million and $1.4 million of
restructuring charges primarily related to the acquisitions of SST and
OSI. The net loss also included a non-cash impairment of goodwill and
other intangible assets of $289.5 million. For the year NCO posted revenues of $1.5 billion, a net loss of $337.1 million and EBITDA of $95.5 million. For complete details on NCO’s latest performance visit CardData (www.carddata.com).

NCO GROUP REVENUES
4Q/07: $279.7 million
1Q/08: $318.4 million
2Q/08: $405.0 million
3Q/08: $381.1 million
4Q/08: $362.5 million
Source: CardData (www.carddata.com)

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ABA Reports Record Card Delinquency in Q4

Consumer credit delinquencies in the fourth quarter reached its highest level ever, according to the American Bankers Association’s “Consumer Credit Delinquency Bulletin.” Based on total dollars outstanding, delinquency rose to 5.52% in the fourth quarter. Sequentially, delinquent dollars increased 78 basis points. Home equity lines of credit delinquencies also reached a new record, rising 31 basis points to 1.46%. Every category saw rising delinquencies except mobile home loans. The ABA report defines a delinquency as a late payment that is 30 days or more overdue.

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Mpayy Rolls-Out its Secure Debit Service

Chicago-based alternative payment provider Mpayy has rolled out its
“Secure Debit” payments service to all mobile application developers.
Application developers can process payments for just $0.20 + 2.00% from
within
applications on Android, iPhone or Blackberry. Application marketplaces
can open Mpayy Retail Ecommerce & Checkout Host
(REACH) accounts and provide their personal and merchant accounts to the
buyers and sellers within their marketplace. When sellers receive their
funds, Mpayy can move the net amount, providing marketplace fees in real
time, eliminating receivables periods. Merchants get instant mobile
commerce capabilities, and can get paid to their REACH account directly
from their customers’ mobile devices.

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JCB International Names a New Top Exec

JCB International has named Koremitsu Sannomiya as President and Chief
Operating Officer. Sannomiya succeeds Kenji Seto, who has served in the
position since June 2007. Sannomiya had held a number of key positions,
including Executive Vice President since 2000, providing visionary
leadership in key areas and vital issues: corporate planning,
supervising JCB’s Next Generation System migration project, and
developing emerging markets such as small value and utility payment.
Prior to his appointment as President and Chief Operating Officer at
JCBI, he served as Board Member, Executive Officer, and Head of
Strategic Market Development Headquarters Division at JCB, where he
helped to substantially expand the horizon of the credit card payment
market in Japan by marketing new solutions and services, including
widening the small value market with the QUICPay(TM) contactless smart
card payment solution, and undertaking Eco-Action-Point program platform
operations on behalf of Japan’s Ministry of the Environment.

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