GLOBALPLATFORM EVENT

GlobalPlatform will hold a one day card specifications
technology training session in Vienna, Austria on Thursday
April 23, 2009. The training has been
designed to improve industry knowledge of the smart card specifications
available, their function and capabilities, and the benefits gained from
implementing standardized technology. The session will cover
GlobalPlatform’s role within the industry and its suite of
specifications, provide a thorough training on ‘core’ card
specifications and exclusively outline GlobalPlatform’s forthcoming
technical releases.

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AmEx Doubles Rewards for Charge Cardholders

American Express has launched a nationwide promotion that will allow all consumer charge cardholders to earn double points on U.S. standalone gas and grocery purchases up to $1,000 dollars of eligible spend each month, starting March 22nd through March 15th, 2010. To take advantage of the offer, cardholders must enroll their existing charge cards online. Consumers who apply and are approved for the AmEx charge card from April 1st, 2009 through June 30th, 2009 will be automatically enrolled in the promotion for the 12-month period beginning the date their card account is created.

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Charge-Off Averages Top 7% in February

Credit card charge-offs soared in February topping the 7.00% milestone. The velocity is unprecedented and projects a very bad year for U.S. card issuers. Capital One reported a record February charge-off ratio of 8.06% for its U.S. Card business, and a sequential increase of 24 basis points. U.S. Card delinquency also moved north in February by eight basis points, a record high. In December charge-offs soared by 73 basis points following a 44 basis points jump in November. For February, 30+ day delinquency rose to 5.10% from 5.02% in January, and up 89 basis points from February 2008. Charge-offs for February were 8.06%, compared to 7.82% in January, and 5.50% for February 2008. The average charge-off ratio for BofA, Chase, Citi and Cap One in the fourth quarter was 6.70%, compared to 4.45% one-year ago. According to CardData (carddata.com), Citi reported the largest year-on-year fourth quarter jump, rising from 4.30% to 6.98%, for its North American general purpose credit cards. Including Citi’s private label cards, the managed net charge-off ratio increased 294 basis points from 4Q/07 to 8.04% and gained 91 basis points from the prior quarter. Chase posted a managed net charge-off rate for the quarter of 5.56%, up from 3.89% in the prior year and 5.00% in 3Q/08. BofA reported that fourth quarter charge-offs rose to 7.16%, compared to 6.40% in the prior quarter and 4.75% one-year ago. (The BofA figure includes global cards but not business cards.) Capital One posted a net charge-off rate for U.S. credit cards of 7.08% for the fourth quarter, compared to 6.13% for the third quarter and 4.84% one-year ago. For historical metrics on the nation’s top issuers visit CardData ([www.carddata.com](http://www.carddata.com)).

U.S. CHARGE-OFFS
Aug 08: 6.14%
Sep 08: 6.19%
Oct 08: 6.27%
Nov 08: 6.30%
Dec 08: 6.40%
Jan 09: 6.81%
Feb 09: 7.11%
Source: CardData (www.carddata.com)

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DISCOVER & SIX

Discover’s Diners Club and payment service provider SIX Multipay have signed a merchant acquiring agreement.
Under the terms of the agreement, SIX Multipay will provide merchants
with single source electronic payment services for the acceptance of
Diners Club and Discover Network card products in key European regions
including Switzerland, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Ireland,
Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg.
SIX Multipay provides the acceptance and smooth processing of card-based
means of payment to merchants. With the card products VISA, MasterCard,
Diners, Discover, JCB, V PAY, Maestro and the electronic purse CASH, SIX
Multipay offers an intelligent cashless solution for any purchase amount
and in addition various value added services. Foreign currency
conversions at the point of sale (DCC), the loading of prepaid mobile
telephone credits at payment terminals, vouchers and the sale of gift
cards (GiftCard) create additional benefits and profits to merchants.

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Latino Literacy Now Platinum Visa is Launched

Actor Edward James Olmos and CardPartner has launched the “Latino Literacy Now Platinum Visa” affinity credit card.
Funds raised will support LLN initiatives to promote reading among
Latinos and others as a means of self-improvement. The non-profit Latino
Book & Family Festival earns $50 every time someone activates an LLN
card, plus an ongoing share of the charge volume for the life of the card. CardPartner
maximizes returns by stripping out costs, operating in the virtual
environment, offering free, customized self-service marketing tools, and
working with groups on a “human scale” not often seen in the credit card
industry.

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Crittenden Becomes Chairman of Citi Holding

Citi has appointed Gary Crittenden, previously Chief
Financial Officer, as Chairman
of Citi Holdings, and Edward “Ned” Kelly, previously the Head of Global
Banking,as Chief Financial Officer. In this new operational role, Crittenden will work with Mike Corbat,
the interim CEO of Citi Holdings, to optimize the value of the
businesses in this unit. Citi Holdings represents a significant portion
of the assets of Citigroup.

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UDAP Comes at the Worst Possible Time

New analysis suggests that “Unfair or Deceptive Acts or Practices”
regulation will result in a drastic reduction in available credit and an
increase in pricing. Auriemma Consulting Group says the regulation in
part severely restricts credit card issuers’ ability to adjust interest
rates, the primary means for controlling risk exposure. Given the
current trepidation in lending across the country, and the general
condition of our nation’s financial institutions, there is widespread
concern that this new regulation could not be coming at a worse time for
both consumers and issuers. To ensure their own survival, credit card
issuers must take matters into their own hands by monitoring the health
of both their financial positions and that of consumer spending.
Restriction of credit is going to force everyone, including consumers
and credit card issuers, to work together to ensure their mutual well
being. It is clear, though, that the card market is in for some
significant changes.

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New Website moneyStrands is Introduced

Strands Labs, Inc., the developer of
social recommendation and personalization technologies, announced
the public launch of its new online personal finance management service
named moneyStrands (http://www.moneystrands.com/). The innovative site
offers consumers a comprehensive set of free money management
functionality based on a highly customizable rich Internet application
platform. Strands’ awaited move into the personal finance vertical is
part of a multi-staged strategy to develop consumer facing services that
leverage its patent-pending social recommendation technology in high
value, high impact domains.

With the ongoing global financial crisis and more uncertainty about the
economy still looming, there is no denying that being “penny wise” is
the order of the day. However, for many, the idea of money management
has traditionally come to conjure up unpleasant images of monitoring
multiple bank and credit card accounts, maintaining impractical expense
sheets, and often dealing with conflicting advice from different
sources. In order to bridge this gap, moneyStrands offers its users an
extensive suite of easy to use and engaging personal finance
capabilities at no charge. The list includes:

– The ability to present a unified view of the user’s finances in
one convenient site by aggregating and automatically updating
information from all her bank, credit card and other financial accounts.
– A host of ‘widgets’ that utilize advanced data visualization
techniques to analyze and highlight the meaningful trends in the user’s
income, debt and spending patterns.
– Intuitive transaction drill down capabilities and a convenient
budgeting component.
– Configurable email reminders and mobile text alerts ensuring the
user gets notified and can quickly adapt to unforeseen financial events.
– A community oriented section that lets the user see how she
compares to her peers and others.
– A specialized version of Strands recommendation technology that
matches the user with money saving financial and commercial products and
the most relevant expert-authored money management tips based on her
financial profile.
– A highly customizable widget-based user interface with a fun and
engaging design that enables the user to uniquely combine and shuffle
the most personally relevant aspects of her financial life, all on her
own workspace.

moneyStrands also sports an easy to use iPhone application in addition
to a full-featured mobile web version for all browser-enabled smart
phones so users can also access their account balances and budgets
conveniently while on the go.

“Americans are reacting to this psyche-changing financial squeeze like
none other before and are turning to the Internet in record numbers in
search of tools that will help them get back on the right track with
their money,” said Atakan Cetinsoy, V.P. – Personal Finance Products, at
Strands. “moneyStrands has been built to do just that. We focused our
efforts on providing a fun and engaging experience that not only
encourages best practices for personal finance but also has the
potential to train users for sustainable changes in their financial
practices. I believe we have achieved this balance by automating the
most cumbersome money management tasks while putting the emphasis on
what really matters for the user to consistently replace their unhealthy
financial habits with healthy ones. moneyStrands exemplifies as much a
self-improvement psychology as it does financial mastery,” he added.

About Strands

Strands develops software technologies that help people discover the
most personally relevant content and products on the Internet. Strands’
patent-pending Social Recommender is capable of automatically learning
people’s tastes and quickly adapting to their changing information needs
as their preferences evolve over time. It can be used to generate
real-time recommendations in a vast number of domains. Strands was
established in 2003 by CEO & Founder, Francisco J. Martin and is
headquartered in Corvallis, Oregon. Currently, Strands and its
subsidiaries have more than 100 employees at offices in the U.S., Spain
and Finland.

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THINKING MONEY

Money advice website ThinkingMoney.org is proposing partnerships with
credit card companies as a way to generate income for charities, not
relying on the public
The Charity Commission has reported that as many as 52% of charities
will be
affected by the credit crunch, with 30% already reporting falls in their
income. Both business and charities alike are using strategic
partnerships to
strengthen their position in the marketplace and create longevity in
their income streams. Thinking Money can report that charities such as
The National Trust, UNICEF, Breakthrough Breast Cancer and the WWF have
all partnered with credit card companies to generate income.

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SafPay Introduces Virtucard Mall Card

Alternative payment provider SafPay has released “Virtucard”, a
cash-based virtual mall card that gives online merchants a more secure
Consumers fund their free Virtucard account for up to $1,000.00 directly
through their bank’s online bill payment system as if they were paying a
bill. The bank’s trusted third-party processors handle the transactions,
which means neither SafPay nor the merchant have access to the
consumer’s checking account information. As a result, merchants are free
from the added risk of handling sensitive financial information and the
consumer’s financial assets are not at risk when they shop online using
their Virtucard. Virtucard merchants are not subject to the extensive and often
severe compliance measures, such as PCI, that face online credit card
merchants because consumer financial information is not at risk. The
lack of additional transaction fees also means that merchants can now
accept micro-payments that have been previously too cost-prohibitive to
accept with a credit card merchant account.

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NFC & ETSI

The NFC Forum has issued a MoU with the European Telecommunications
Standards Institute (ETSI). Under the terms
of the agreement, the NFC Forum and ETSI will align their activities to
help the NFC community to implement solutions that comply with
NFC-related specifications developed by both organizations.
ETSI develops globally-applicable standards for many different
Information and Communication Technologies (ICT). Among these are
standards for smart cards for mobile communications and other
applications, standards for close range inductive data communications
and for a variety of short range devices.
As the NFC Forum and ETSI prepare to release additional specifications,
the relationship will aid the coordination of activities related to
testing and product certification. The agreement will also enable the
two organizations to exchange questions and answers regarding each
other’s work and to better coordinate future endeavors.

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