Consumer Confidence Remains at Historic Lows

The Conference Board “Consumer Confidence Index” inched lower in
January and continues to be at a historic low. The “Index” now stands at
37.7, down from 38.6 in December. It appears that consumers have begun
2009 with the same degree of pessimism that they exhibited in the
fourth quarter. Consumers saying business conditions are “bad” increased
to 47.9% from 45.8%, while those saying business conditions are “good”
declined to 6.4% from 7.7% last month. Those expecting business
conditions to worsen over the next six months decreased slightly to
31.1% from 32.9%. Consumers’ assessment of the labor market, however,
was slightly more positive. Those claiming jobs are “hard to get” edged
down to 41.1% from 41.5% in December, while those stating jobs are
“plentiful” edged up to 7.2% from 6.5%.

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Card Activation Files More Lawsuits

Payment technology provider Card Activation Technologies has filed five
new lawsuits to obtain royalties for the use of its patented technology
for debit and gift cards. The lawsuits were filed in the U.S.
Federal District Court in Chicago on January 21, 2009 against Casual
Male Retail Group Inc., BeBe Stores, Whole Food
Markets, Barneys of New York, Inc. and Panda Restaurant Group.
These lawsuits bring the total to 12 filed by the company in the past
two years. Card Activation Technologies has settled most of the previous
lawsuits. Lawsuits are still pending in U.S. Federal District Court in
Chicago against Barnes & Noble and Aeropostale, Inc. In addition, over
600 letters have been sent to other companies advising them of the patent.

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FRAUD TRENDS

The number of fraud cases in the U.K. rose 16% last year to 214,342. Account takeover fraud soared by a record 207% with more than 19,000 cases reported in 2008. Frauds of this kind are enabled
through phishing, telephone scams, or by the interception of
credit cards and statements in order to take over an account, divert or fraudulently order goods or facilitate fraudulent transactions. CIFAS, the U.K.’s “Fraud Prevention Service” also reported that misuse of facility fraud rose 69% in 2008. Bank account products are the most commonly misused with plastic cards, communications and mail order accounts also proving to be popular with fraudsters. CIFAS also says the overall increase in successful identity frauds (i.e. identity frauds spotted after the granting of an account, card or policy), with CIFAS Members posted a 5.7% increase during 2008. However, there was a decline in the numbers of victims of impersonation seen over the past two years has continued, with a further 3.7% decrease in 2008 from 2007 figures.

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NFC ACADEMY

Wise Media has created the NFC Academy, a year-long initiative that will
go live in 2009 with a series of events featuring both a conference and
a Technology Village.
Throughout the year, the NFC Academy will gather researchers, pioneer
developers and advanced practitioners in the areas of mobile applications,
short-range communication and contactless security to educate the market and
foster the adoption of NFC technology. Each event will host a conference and
live demonstrations that promote an open exchange of ideas on the deployment
and growth of NFC technology in the field of contactless applications ­
including access control, ticketing and mobile payments. The NFC Academy
will provide an opportunity for high-caliber, interactive
networking, supported by activities and panel discussions on important
topics. A selection of experts will moderate each key subject on the agenda,
followed by moments for one-on-one push and pull discussions. The
Technology Village will exhibit what some of the leading NFC technology
suppliers are currently offering in terms of stable, established solutions
for the creation of future intelligent environments, mobile payment
applications and advanced information systems. Live demonstrations of NFC
technology will showcase real-world applications, ideal use of current
payment technologies and new ways to integrate NFC technologies in existing
applications.

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TSYS & TARJETAS

Outsourced payment provider TSYS announced that it has signed
a payments processing agreement with Tarjetas Unisoluciones S.A. DE
C.V., a wholly owned subsidiary of Unibanco Brasil, for the launch of
its Unicard Mexico consumer card portfolio. The portfolio will be the
first to utilize TSYS’ industry leading TS2 platform in Mexico.
Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed. YSYS says it has spent more than 15 years establishing itself as the processor of choice in Mexico.

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USDS Seeks to Buy Debt Management Concerns

Los Angeles-based U.S. Debt Settlement says it is in acquisition
mode for consumer debt reduction and management services companies. The
firm recently acquired the assets of TX-based Compass Credit Services.
Compass Credit’s offerings included a transfer of 600 current clients
and more than 6,700 prospects. USDS also says it has signed a letter of
intent to acquire another company that has 5,000
clients and does eight million a year. The Company says it plans to
go public this year on the Frankfort Exchange during the first quarter.

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CREDANT STUDY

Data security experts Credant Technologies have released the results of a recent survey that reveals
9000 USB sticks have been forgotten in people’s pockets at the dry cleaners.
The survey was carried out to gauge the frequency and ease
with which mobile devices such as USB and memory sticks are lost or
forgotten in strange places such as dry cleaners and also as a warning
to people across the globe to be vigilant when downloading information
to carry around with them as it does frequently get lost.
Dry cleaners in the suburbs, on the commuter belt or based in city
centres find the most USB or memory sticks. One dry cleaner in the heart
of the City of London said he is getting an average of 1 USB stick every
2 weeks, another said he had found at least 80 in the past year.
A similar survey was conducted by Credant Technologies last September amongst taxi
drivers in London and New York, which showed that over 12,500 handheld
devices such as laptops, iPods and memory sticks are forgotten at the
back of taxis every 6 months.

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TouchSuite Salon POS System Introduced

Financial technology provider Invenstar has introduced the “TouchSuite
Salon” POS system for small to mid-size salon and spas. TouchSuite
Salon is an all-in-one, touch screen retail management POS
system offering a full suite of business solutions, including client
management, inventory, marketing, and merchant services like cash
advance, credit card and check processing, and support. It has
everything a small business salon and spa owner needs in a POS system,
such as 3-touch booking, total management, advanced reporting, a cash
drawer, receipt printer, laser report printer, barcode scanner, battery
backup, keyboard, data backup drive and TouchSuite Salon software
already installed, helping salon and spa owners automate sales,
bookings, and marketing processes for maximum revenue and business growth.

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FIS and CUNA Create a New CU Fraud Service

Fidelity National Information Services and CUNA Mutual have teamed to create a technology solution for credit unions that will allow for more efficient and secure transfer of the plastic card fraud data needed to activate an insurance claim. The companies said that credit unions are experiencing greater operating costs and tasks related to managing plastic card fraud data and claims. Due to the large number of data breaches, the incidence of fraud continues to grow at a rapid rate. Without the CUNA Mutual and FIS integration, credit unions must manually capture, enter and transfer fraud claims data and reports between the companies. FIS and CUNA estimate the new card services capability will save the credit union approximately 20 minutes of administrative data processing time per claim. The new service is available to approximately 2,300 credit unions that partner with both CUNA Mutual and FIS for their plastic card programs.

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hhgregg Extends Circuit City Card Program

IN-based electronics retailer hhgregg will accept Circuit City gift
cards until April 1. hhgregg will accept
Circuit City gift cards that, upon verification of the gift card
balance, can be applied toward any hhgregg purchase. The gift card value
will be good toward up to 20 percent of the total hhgregg product
purchase price and is not available for use on hhgregg.com. hhgregg
currently operates 108 stores in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Indiana,
Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina and Tennessee.

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NCR Introduces APTRA Deposit Gateway

NCR has launched the web-based “APTRA Deposit Gateway” software as a
service that enables financial institutions to perform check image
processing for envelope-free deposits made at the ATM. The solution,
including server hardware and application software, will receive check
images and transaction details captured at the ATM, consolidate the
transactions and provide the financial institution with online access to
view check images, make corrections, generate transaction reports and
send image cash letters electronically. Through the SaaS model,
financial institutions will be provided with online access to this
system and enables financial institutions to go-to-market
quickly with minimal upfront investment or risk, by relying on NCR’s
hosted infrastructure.

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