NPD Group Offers Weekly Updates

Market research firm NPD Group is now offering the “Ecommerce Weekly
Tracking Service” to report POS data.
The “Ecommerce Weekly Tracking Service” collects data from 15 ecommerce
retailers, both vendor.com and pureplay.com, and is available for more
than 100 consumer technology categories. With this information retailers
and manufacturers can measure industry, category, brand, model and
feature-level sales and trends. The NPD Group is a provider of reliable
and comprehensive
consumer and retail information.

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Javelin to Host Data Breach Defense

Javelin Strategy will host an encore presentation of the “Data Breach Defense 2009 Webinar”. Senior Javelin Analyst Tom Wills will share updates and insights based
on recent Javelin primary market research about:the data breach risk landscape in 2009
insider fraud, Web application attacks, and other emerging threats, the impact of a down economy on identity theft, the impact of data breaches on customer relationships and
corporate reputation, US regulatory update, best practices for Prevention, Detection, and Resolution and Vendor Spotlight:
“ID Experts”, led by ID Experts President Rick Kam.

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MC and SWA Tackle Economic Downturn

Travel executives from MasterCard, Best Western and
Southwest Airlines met for the third annual “Business Travel Summit” to
discuss strategies to counter the economic downturn. Mastercard
continues to focus on
stronger expense tracking for small business travelers to reduce costs
and receive perks such as
rental car upgrades and cash back for purchases, while also eliminating
certain fees for checked bags that some airlines have implemented.
Travel brands are using the economic slowdown to grow
business-to-business relationships in an effort to provide new
value-added services to their customers. Southwest Airlines and Best
Western recently announced a partnership that provides Best Western
Rewards members the opportunity to earn Rapid Rewards credits for each
qualifying hotel stay.

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Members Group Lands Spectrum FCU

IA-based The Members Group has converted the debit and ATM processing of
CA-based Spectrum Federal Credit Union.
TMG has been the credit union’s credit card processor for nearly 15
years. The conversion comprised eight ATM machines and nearly 14,000
debit cards and took less than eight weeks. As a result, the conversion
has created back office efficiencies for the credit union. TMG’s core
products include credit,
debit, ATM and a variety of prepaid solutions, as well as online
reporting, item processing, ACH and ALM and services. TMG’s prepaid
card products are branded ATIRA.

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SCA Launches its New OSCA Awards

The Smart Card Alliance is set to honor smart card achievers and
companies with the “2009 OSCA” awards to be held in May. The Smart Card
Alliance “Outstanding Smart Card Achievement” (OSCA) awards will be
presented during the Smart Card Alliance. 2009 Annual Conference held in
conjunction with CTST 2009 – The Americas Conference on May 4 – 7, 2009
in New Orleans. Nominations are open in three award categories:
“Outstanding Issuing Organization Award”, “Outstanding Technology
Organization Award” and “Outstanding Individual Leadership Award”.
A judging panel consisting of North American smart card industry
suppliers, end-users and individuals from the analyst and media
communities will review all qualified OSCA applications.

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American Express Expands Membership Rewards

American Express has introduced new options within the “Membership Rewards” program. The new offerings enable cardholders to save their cash while redeeming points for gas cards; household appliances, such as washers, dryers and dishwashers; and gift cards at an expanded list of casual dining restaurants and broader range of retailers. The newly introduced “Express Rewards Gas Card” allows cardholders to use points for the expense of gas. The “Express Rewards Gas Card” lets cardholders to fill up at virtually any gas station that accepts American Express Cards. The “Express Rewards Gas Card” is available in $50 and $100 denominations for 6,500 and 13,000 points, respectively.

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BofA, COF, Citi, Discover, MasterCard Team

Bank of America, Capital One, Citi and Discover and MasterCard and Visa have come together to create “Help With My Credit” online resource. “Help With My Credit” will be supported by a national advertising campaign that will run on television, in national newspapers, online and in national magazines to make consumers aware of these resources and to encourage them to take advantage of the assistance available to them through issuers and counseling agencies. Three national credit counseling agencies — Take Charge America, Money Management International, and Novadebt — have agreed to participate in the “Help With My Credit” initiative.

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Direct Selling Association Endorses FDC

The Direct Selling Association has endorsed First Data’s “Money
Network” as the electronic commission payment distribution service of
choice for its member companies. DSA says there are more than 15 million
direct sellers in the USA, and more than 200 companies that are members
of the Direct Selling Association. First Data processes the transaction
and harnesses the power of the data to deliver intelligence and insight
for millions of merchant locations and thousands of card issuers in 37
countries.

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DEC LEI

The Conference Board Leading Economic
Index (LEI) for France declined 1.0% and The Conference Board
Coincident Economic Index (CEI) decreased 0.1% in December.
One of the seven components of The Conference Board
Leading Economic Index (LEI) for France increased in December. The
positive contributor to the index was the yield spread. The negative
contributors to the index are industrial new orders, production
expectations,
inverted new unemployment claims, the stock price index, building
permits (residential) and the ratio of the deflator of manufacturing
value added to unit labor cost for manufacturing*.
In the second half of 2008, the LEI
declined by 5.5% (a -10.7% annual rate), down further from
the 1.9% rate of decline (a -3.8% annual rate) during the
first half of the year. Additionally, weaknesses among the leading
indicators have remained very widespread in recent months.
The LEI for now stands at 100.9 (2004=100).

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OUR WORLD & OUR FAMILY

The Western Union Foundation has donated $2
million to communities in 19 countries through the “Our World, Our Family”
signature cause program, culminating in $9.1 million in grant monies
awarded in 2008 and marking a 67%increase in grants paid from 2007. The
” Our World, Our Family” program is a five-year, $50 million

signature program designed to provide communities with the skills,
knowledge and resources essential to breaking the cycle of poverty. The
program is
framed around four areas: Our World Gives; Our World Learns; Our World
Strives and Our
World Speaks. Through grant awards, each program area is given equal
attention
towards helping families across the globe continue stay connected, overcome
barriers and realize their dreams. In 2008, the Western Union
Foundation awarded grants to 276
organizations in more than 75 countries and territories, supporting
causes from natural
disaster relief to fostering educational opportunities in communities
around the world.
Giving in 2008 focused on disaster relief grants, direct donations to
non-governmental
organizations and Agent Giving Circle grants or direct donations from
its Agents worldwide.

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NFC ACADEMY

The NFC Academy is taking shape with its first conference in Abu Dhabi and the formation of its Advisory Board. The high-end technology congress brings together researchers, pioneer developers and advanced practitioners to educate the market and foster the adoption of NFC technology including contactless applications such as ticketing and mobile payments. The Advisory Board includes Paul Korczak; Assistant Chief Officer at MetroCard New York City Transit; Sertac Ozinal; CEO at BKM Interbank Card Center (Turkey); Tinboat Arslanouk; Director of Business Development at Du – Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company (United Arab Emirates); Koichi Tagawa; NFC Forum Chairman and General Manager of Global Standards and Industry Relations Department at Sony (Japan); Michael Hegenbarth; Senior Director of Standardization and Consulting at Bundesdruckerei (Germany); Remy de Tonnac; CEO at Inside Contactless (France); Kurt Schmid; CEO at Nexperts (Austria); and Carlo Maria Medaglia Professor at the University of Rome “Sapienza”
(Italy). The next NFC Academy conferences will be held in Paris on May 29 at the Hyatt Regency Paris-Charles de Gaulle, and Milan on November 4-5 at the Milanofiori Congress Center.

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Prepaid Cards Can Drive Consumer Behavior

A new report has found that 42% of Internet households have at some time received a prepaid card as a loyalty reward for their shopping or card usage activity. Two-thirds of those who have received one say they are valuable. More than one-third of these respondents consider this type of reward to be very valuable. Atlanta-based Synergistics Research says that in terms of the impact on behavior and customer loyalty, half overall indicate that they shop more frequently at particular merchants or locations as a result of getting this type of reward. Three in ten overall report that they use a particular credit card more often as a result. Additionally, a majority of those who
received one say they shop more frequently at the merchant as a result,
and three in ten use a particular credit card in order to earn prepaid
reward cards.

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