WU PRODUCT TEAM

The Western Union Company has tapped Victoria Lopez-Negrete, previously with Epana Networks, to lead the Hispanic Product
Management team. Jorge E. Consuegra, previously with Yahoo, will lead the U.S. Product Management team and
Greg A. Schneider, previously with Simon Property Group will have responsibility for leading the newly formed
Marketing Information Management and Loyalty team supporting Western
Union’s in-region structure. Lopez-Negrete brings to Western Union 20 years of consumer and financial
services experience. She joins Western Union from Epana Networks, a
prepaid phone card business. As a regional executive, she also managed Citibank’s credit card
business in 11 countries across Latin America. As general manager for
MasterCard International – Mexico, she managed MasterCard’s
relationships with all Mexican banks and helped capture significant
market share gains. Consuegra holds a progressive track record in digital, direct marketing, brand
management, consumer packaged goods and consumer financial services
marketing. Schneider will help transform
Western Union’s regional business by developing a best-in-class
marketing information management team to better serve the region,
including leveraging Western Union’s Gold Card loyalty program and its
more than seven million users. At Simon, he
managed the Simon Giftcard, the largest Visa
prepaid program in the world with over 35 million cards sold.

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Employment Trends Index Collapses in January

The Conference Board “Employment Trends Index” fell further in January. The index now stands at 96.6, down 1.0% from the December revised figure of 97.5, and down 18.6% from a year ago. “The Employment Trends Index” has recently been declining faster than at any time since the 1974 recession. The Conference Board says such declines suggest considerable job losses will persist for several more months. It is becoming clearer that the continued worsening economic conditions are forcing many companies to make further downward adjustments to their workforce. The 18-month-long decline in the “Employment Trends Index” 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.

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E-PAYMENT GRANT

Payment network provider Bling Nation has received a $500,000 grant from
CORFO, the Chilean economic development agency. The
grant will subsidize Bling Nation’s partnership with Micrologica, an
engineering company specializing in the
design and development of electronic products for applications in
telecommunications, financial services, transportation and related
industries. Bling Nation’s core technology is an integrated issuing and
acquiring
processing platform designed specifically for local and regional banks.
Through its Community Payment Network, Bling Nation enables financial
institutions to more profitably support payments between their local
demand deposit account (DDA) customers and their merchant customers by
bypassing the current global debit payment model with an efficient,
cost-effective and local payment network. The CORFO grant
will finance a portion of the salaries of the specialized team employed
by Micrologica Innovation, overhead costs, training and travel expenses.
Micrologica Innovation, the consortium formed by Bling Nation and
Micrologica, is investing $2 million in the development of the hardware
and software tools that make up Bling Nation’s service offerings.
Product initiatives include mobile payment devices, software
applications to support mobile payments in smartphones, wireless
point-of-sale machines and contactless payment tags.

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Chenault Ranked Among Top Black Executives

American Express CEO Kenneth Chenault has been named a ” BLACK
ENTERPRISE 100 Most Powerful Executives in Corporate America”.
The final tally includes nine CEOs, 11 division chief
executives, and a host of top executives that significantly contribute
to their company’s revenues. Each executive holds a senior management
position at one of the top 1,000 publicly traded companies or at an
international corporation grossing revenues of $1 billion or more.
Nineteen companies have multiple executives on the list.
AmericanExpress and General Electric lead the way with four companies that
boast two executives on the list, Citigroup has two. The selection
criteria and comprehensive profiles of the 100 Most
Powerful Executives in Corporate America is available in the February
2009 issue of BLACK ENTERPRISE

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MC EUROPE 4Q/08

While positive, MasterCard Europe posted lackluster gains across the board for all payment cards metrics in the fourth quarter. For the fourth quarter, the European region reported growth in MasterCard gross euro volume (8%), purchase volume (8%), purchase transactions (8%), cash transactions (7%) and cards issued (10%), compared to the same period in 2007. For the third quarter, the European region reported growth in MasterCard gross euro volume (17%), purchase volume (17%), purchase transactions (13%), cash transactions (12%) and cards issued (15%), compared to the same period in 2007. At year-end 2008, 195 million MasterCard cards (excluding “Maestro”and “Cirrus”) had been issued by MasterCard customer financial institutions across Europe. European cardholders made 1.6 billion purchase transactions in the fourth quarter of 2008 and could use their MasterCard cards at 8.3 million acceptance locations in the region. In addition, the “Maestro” brand mark appeared on 313 million cards, up 5.4%, compared to the same quarter in 2007. Consumers can now make point of sale purchases with their “Maestro” cards at 7.1 million merchant locations throughout Europe. For complete details on MasterCard Europe’s fourth quarter performance visit CardData (www.carddata.com).

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Ohio to Deploy the ACS EPPICard MasterCard

ACS announced that the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services has
implemented the “EPPICard” prepaid MasterCard to
distribute benefits to recipients of cash
assistance programs. The Ohio EPPICard can be used at member
banks, retailers and ATMs. In August 2009, paper distribution of program
benefits will begin to be phased out.
The state of Ohio has also relied on ACS for EPC distribution of child
support benefits for nearly five years. ACS processes more
than half of the nation’s child support payments; manages 20 electronic
payment card programs for state and federal clients, disbursing
government payments and benefits; processes nearly 375 million Medicaid
claims each year totaling more than $39 billion in payments; services
student loans for more than 10 million borrowers; and facilitates more
than 75 million online searches for unclaimed property per year.

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Commerce and Navy FCU Extend Visa Contracts

Visa has inked Commerce Bancshares and Navy Federal Credit Union to
long-term deals. MO-based Commerce Bancshares will continue offering the
full range of Visa consumer and commercial products – including prepaid,
consumer debit and credit, small business debit and credit and
commercial cards – through 2013. Commerce Bancshares will also continue
to use “Visa Debit Processing Service” for its prepaid processing
capabilities. Under the terms of the Navy FCU agreement, the world’s
largest credit union will continue to offer Visa-branded consumer credit
and debit products to its 3.1 million members worldwide. In addition,
Navy Federal will expand its Visa prepaid and small business product
offerings. Commerce Bank operates in approximately 350 locations in the
Central U.S. Navy FCU has 3.1 million members and 170 branch offices. In
December M&T Bank renewed its brand partnership agreement with Visa and
WI-based M&I Marshall & Ilsley Bank signed a a seven-year agreement to
renew its partnership with Visa. (CF Library 12/2/08; 12/3/08)

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LEI DROPS 4.3%

The Conference Board Leading Economic
Index (LEI) decreased 4.3% and The Conference Board
Coincident Economic Index (CEI) decreased 1.4% in December. Four of the ten components that make up the leading
economic index increased in December. The positive contributors to the
index include real money supply, stock prices, interest rate spread, and the
(inverted) business failures. The negative contributors include the index of
overtime worked, the six month growth rate of labor productivity, the
new orders for machinery and construction component, the Tankan
business conditions survey, dwelling units started, and real operating
profits. Industrial production registered a record drop this month. The number of employed persons and
the real retail, wholesale, and manufacturing sales component also made
negative contributions to the index. The six-month growth rate of the
CEI fell to -3.9%(a -7.6% annual rate), also its lowest
level since 1974. Moreover, the weaknesses among the coincident
indicators continued to be very widespread. At the same time, real GDP
continued its downtrend through the third quarter of 2008 – it declined
at a 1.8% annual rate. This is the first time since 2001 that
real GDP has declined in two consecutive quarters. The LEI and the CEI have been falling for more than a year now,
and their rate of decline continued to accelerate in the second half of
2008. In addition, the weaknesses in both composite indexes have been
very widespread. The coincident index now
stands at 99.0 (2004=100).

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Market Trackers Confirm Card Mail Drop-Off

Another industry tracker weighs in on the number of card direct mail
offers sent to Americans in 2008. Chicago-based Mintel Comperemedia
estimates 5.4 billion credit card direct mail offers for 2008, the
lowest annual total the firm has reported since 2000. Estimated 2007
mail volume was 7.4 billion and 8.3 billion for 2006. According to
CardWatch.com, direct mail credit card packages fell to an estimated 3.9
billion pieces in 2008, compared to 5.6 billion in 2007 and 5.8 billion
in 2006. The 3.9 billion level is the lowest since 2003. Synovate’s
“Mail Monitor” service estimates that U.S. households received 3.8
billion offers for new cards during 2008, a 27% decrease, or 1.4 billion
fewer offers mailed in 2008. Mintel reports that households making over
$100,000 a year received only 1% fewer credit card offers in 2008 than
in 2007. But households making $50,000 or less saw a 42% drop in new
credit card mail volume.

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RATE FREEZE

Barclays has made cuts in its credit card, mortgage and small business
interest rates which are tied to the Bank of England base rate
reduction of 0.5% points and augment a series of Barclays
initiatives designed to enhance its practical support of homeowners and
small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Barclays currently has approximately £15 billion in lending
balances in place with SME customers in the UK market, up 6%
year-on-year. Barclays is committed to making at least a further £1.5 billion
available to SMEs in 2009, bringing our total commitment to around £16.5
billion by the end of 2009 and is making available its CreditFocus service free of
charge to all UK small businesses in 2009, whether or not they are a
Barclays customer. Barclays is the leading bank on the recent Government initiative
on European Investment Bank (EIB) support. We have negotiated with the
EIB a relaxation in the customer qualifying criteria for an EIB-backed
loan and have committed to passing on the financial benefit of this in
full to the borrower. Barclays was the first in the industry to draw a
new EIB loan.

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