Nokia Takes a $70MM Stake in Obopay

Nokia has decided to make a $70 million minority investment in Redwood City, CA-based Obopay. The service works on any phone and any carrier to empower consumers and businesses with the convenience of mobile payments. Obopay has also named Teppo Paavola, vice president and head of Corporate Business Development at Nokia, to its board of directors. Obopay says it will use the investment to aggressively extend its product suite and enhance its global presence. Obopay charges 25 cents to send any amount up to $1,000.

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BUSINESS PLATINUM

Amex Bank of Canada has launched the “Business Platinum Card from
American Express” which offers some of the most flexible rewards and
premium services for business owners including access to over 600
airport lounges worldwide; the “Companion Ticket” 2-for-1 travel
benefit; airport security priority through the Pearson Priority Lane;
personalized travel booking services through American Express
Travel Services, access to the American Express Business Travel
Management Program Accelerated earn rate of 1.25 points for every $1 in
purchases with the ability to instantly transfer points to Aeroplan at 1
point = 1 Aeroplan Mile and the annual fee of $399 can be tax-deductible.

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ICBC & AMEX

Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and American Express Company have reaffirmed their strategic cooperative relationship and addressed plans for the potential sale of ICBC shares held by American Express. AmEx says that depending on market conditions the company may sell its ICBC shareholding at some point after the lock-up period, and will explore all potential methods of sale that would maximize value and minimize market impact, with a preference for a private sale to investors. Through a network partnership agreement, ICBC has been issuing AmEx branded consumer and commercial cards in China since 2004. By the end of 2008, the number of co-brand cards issued exceeded 600,000, and the total consumption amount exceeded RMB 10 billion. The companies plan to expand their cooperation in various areas including credit card products development, marketing, risk management, customer service, and staff training. ICBC is the largest wholesale and retail bank in China.

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GEMALTO E-ID

Gemalto has rolled out its “eID” solution that consists of a
dedicated eID card for children aged under 12 with specific features
intended to increase their security in emergency situations.
The size of a credit card, the new “Kids-ID” card features three main
functionalities. It acts as an electronic national ID
credential for Belgian children and also serves as an official travel
document in most European countries. It contains all necessary ID
information as well as the child’s photograph. This data is printed on
the card body and also securely stored in the microprocessor, protecting
the child in emergency situations. The “Kids-ID” card can be used on the
Internet for safer access to
online chat and for use of services that require identification.

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AmEx and ICBC Reaffirm Chinese Card Deal

Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and American Express Company have reaffirmed their strategic cooperative relationship and addressed plans for the potential sale of ICBC shares held by American Express. AmEx says that depending on market conditions the company may sell its ICBC shareholding at some point after the lock-up period, and will explore all potential methods of sale that would maximize value and minimize market impact, with a preference for a private sale to investors. Through a network partnership agreement, ICBC has been issuing AmEx branded consumer and commercial cards in China since 2004. By the end of 2008, the number of co-brand cards issued exceeded 600,000, and the total consumption amount exceeded RMB 10 billion. The companies plan to expand their cooperation in various areas including credit card products development, marketing, risk management, customer service, and staff training. ICBC is the largest wholesale and retail bank in China.

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MOBICLEAR & NUCSOFT

Fraud prevention provider mobiclear has teamed with IT firm NUCSOFT to
offer the “Personal Identification Verification On-Time” (PIVOT) to
NUCSOFT’s clients. NUCSOFT will provide mobiclear’s “PIVOT”
security system to clients to ensure that its customers’ card
transactions are secure. There is also an agreement that mobiclear will
continue to develop and expand other ways of ensuring that the
electronic commerce products of NUCSOFT clients are free from
fraud or abuse.

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BEA PHASE II

Banking IT services provider Yucheng Technologies has announced “Phase
II” that expands the Bank of East Asia’s (BEA) personal e-banking
services. “Phase II” offers online bill
pay,scheduled fund transfers and fixed-term savings options, similar to
CDs, allow users to actively manage their use of savings products to
maximize
returns while meeting financial commitments and a preliminary mobile
payment system enabling users to send payments and
fund transfers to other BEA customers via text message. Yucheng is also
a leading
third-party provider of POS merchant acquiring services in partnership
with banks in China.

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Card ABS Metrics Validate Consumer Distress

Among credit card asset-backed securities the average monthly payment rate declined 12 basis points in January to 17.15%. Portfolio yields also sank 121 basis points from December to 16.00%. FitchRatings noted that more of the credit card trusts have started to trap excess spread, as the three-month average excess spread falls below a predetermined level, usually between 4.00% and 4.50%. On the other hand, some of the trusts or series, which had trapped excess spread account in the previous months due to the one-time LIBOR spike, saw their excess spread bounce back and release the cash back to the issuers. Also, the Federal Reserve Board launched the long-awaited “TALF” program on March 3, with the potential capacity up to $1 trillion of lending to consumers and businesses. Investors can request one or more three-year on-recourse loans backed by eligible ‘AAA’-rated asset-backed securities. Eligible credit card ABS are those issued to refinance existing credit card ABS maturing in 2009, and the limit is capped at the amount of the maturing ABS.

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Traveling Consumers Want More Self-Service Kiosks

A new survey by Buzzback Market Research on behalf of NCR indicates that
in addition to low costs and no-frills, travelers also want to be able
to access additional transaction via kiosks. Nearly one in three
respondents or 28%
indicate they’d like the flexibility to do more at the device, such as
upgrade, make seat changes and purchase in-flight meals with 35%
even greater number who would like to be able to check into
their hotel or secure their car rental. The research reveals a clear
connection between self-service and
passenger preference, with 82% of respondents indicating they are
more likely to choose a travel company that allows them to interact
easily via kiosk, online and mobile self-service channels. Greater use
of mobility, such as the use of mobile boarding passes, is
welcomed by consumers, 33% indicated they would like to
receive boarding passes on their mobile devices. Many airlines are
currently piloting this technology.

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Green Dot CEO Recognized for Industry Achievement

Prepaid provider Green Dot CEO and founder Steve Streit was honored with
an “Industry Achievement Award” from Paybefore. In 1999, Streit began
to sell prepaid debit cards targeted to the millions of Americans who
earn less
than $50,000 a year and who are underserved by the financial services
industry. In 2004, Green Dot launched the Green Dot Financial Network,
the first retail cash-acceptance reload network, which has quickly
become the leading reload network for open-loop cards in terms of its
national footprint, the number of card programs supported, and in terms
of consumer and merchant reload brand awareness. Today, Green Dot
provides consumers with financial empowerment through a suite of
products and services, including prepaid debit cards, gift cards, and
the Green Dot “MoneyPak”.

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BENTO & ALOHA

Sushi supplier Bento Nouveau has selected Radiant’s Systems “Aloha
Enterprise” solution for its new concept, Bento Zushi,
The Aloha Enterprise solution includes Radiant P1220 POS hardware
terminals with biometrics, Aloha Quick Service Point-of-Sale software,
Aloha Command Center and Aloha Insight. Utilizing the biometric
technology at the POS enables Bento Nouveau to more accurately control
labor by confirming that the correct employee is clocking in and out.
The addition of Aloha Command Center and Aloha Insight provides the
ability to monitor all store-level site systems for support and
compliance purposes with maximum security while giving Bento Nouveau the
visibility and control needed to efficiently analyze operational results
and quickly make decisions, enabling the restaurant operator to more
efficiently automate its
operations, manage to better results and effectively measure its
performance.

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First Data Q4 Revenue Rises 8% But Loss Widens

First Data reported fourth quarter revenue of $2.3 billion, an increase
of 8% over the year ago quarter. However, the net loss for the quarter
was $3.22 billion, compared to a year-earlier net loss of $273.2
million. Merchant Services reported revenue of $1.1 billion, up
18%. Financial Services revenue was $695 million, down 4%. International
generated revenue of $434 million, down 6%. During the quarter, First
Data announced the successful termination of its joint venture, Chase
Paymentech Solutions, with JPMorgan Chase and also extended its merchant
alliance joint venture, Wells Fargo Merchant Services for five years.
First Data also adopted a revised segment reporting structure on January
1st. The company’s segments will include Retail and Alliance
Services, Financial Services, International and Integrated Payment
Systems. For applicable prior year and quarterly periods, the company
will provide financials realigned to these segments in connection with
our first quarter 2009 Securities and Exchange Commission Form 10-Q
filing. For complete details on First Data’s fourth quarter performance
visit CardData ([www.carddata.com](http://www.carddata.com)).

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