Direct Mail Credit Card Offers – Off a Cliff

A monthly index appears to show slight upticks in November and December
after a record decline in October. The SAGE “Consumer Balance Index” has
retraced seven points of its 22-point decline that began in November
with a drop from 95 to 87 points. The largest decline in the “CBI” came
in October when it dropped ten points from the previous month to a low
of 73 points. SAGE says more consumers in January than in December
reported they had money left over for savings at the end of the month.
The “Index” that tracks active shopping for new cars, housing, and eight
other major goods declined 14 points, from 95 in December to 81 in
January. The largest declines in active shopping are for carpeting,
furniture and housing. SAGE suggest the signs are that the recession
reached a bottom in October, but it is not clear that the recession has
reached its “absolute bottom.”

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William Mills Agency Taps McManus

Finance and technology PR firm William Mills has tapped Peter McManus to
serve as the director of business development. McManus will be
responsible for
leading the agency’s financial public relations business development
efforts aimed at financial and enterprise technology vendors based in
the U.S. and abroad. McManus has more than 25 years of experience as a
publishing and
business development executive in the financial services arena and is a
former publisher of Bank Systems + Technology magazine. He most recently
served as publishing director of TechWeb (previously CMP Media), a
network of business-related IT news and product review sites. In this
position, he spearheaded the development and introduction of new
products that yielded more than $1 million in additional revenue.
Prior to his tenure with TechWeb, McManus was a sales manager for New
York Times Custom Publishing and a regional sales manager for
International Business
Magazine, managing national accounts including Citibank, Travelers
Insurance, KPMG, Ernst & Young, AIG, Aetna, General Electric, American
Express and Dreyfuss.

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Profits Bitten by Rising Charge-Offs in 2008

Pre-tax profit for the U.S. credit card industry declined 2.7% in 2008
to $39.6 billion driven by rising expense streams, especially
charge-offs. During 2008 estimated industry revenues increased 5.6% to
$169.0 billion while estimated expenses rose 8.4% to $129.4 billion.
According to R.K. Hammer, 2008 expense streams include $45.3 billion for
operating expense, $28.2 billion for blended cost of funds and $55.9
billion in net charge-offs. Charge-offs rose 36% in 2008 and represent
43% of the expense stream. On the revenue side, interest income rose
4.4% to $101.4 billion and fee income increased 7.3% to $67.6 billion.
Hammer notes there have been eight recessions, eight panics, and three
depressions in the U.S. since 1797. The recessions averaged 1.4 years in
length. The Hammer econometric model indicates the current economic
downturn began late in 4Q/07 and is not expected to run its course until
at least mid-3Q09, placing further pressure on card issuer/bank revenues
and profits for the next 9 months or longer.

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Ingenico’s Fourth Quarter Revenue Rises 5%

Ingenico’s consolidated revenue for the fourth quarter rose 42% to $290
million. During 2008, the Company sold more than four million terminals.
On a pro-forma basis, including Sagem Monetel in 2007 and 2008 and at
constant exchange rates, fourth quarter revenue rose 5% year on year. In
the fourth quarter, the Chinese market posted revenue of almost $26
million, compared to $3 million in 4Q/07. This performance was due to both
the Ingenico China subsidiary and Fujian Landi, a company acquired at
the end of June. During the fourth quarter Ingenico unveiled its new
marketing and strategic vision “Beyond Payment” and obtained the
market’s first “PCI-PED 2.0” approval for a CounterTop terminal.
Ingenico says the exposure of the group to reduced consumer spending
remains limited and Ingenico has not, to date, observed any delays in
decision making of its customers. Finally, it believes that current
economic conditions do not compromise its medium-term growth potential,
which is supported by recurring needs and strong demand in technological
innovations. For complete details on Ingenico’s fourth quarter
performance visit CardData ([www.carddata.com](http://www.carddata.com)).

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SDCCU Adds Serverside Personalization

The San Diego County Credit Union has implemented Serverside Group’s
“myOwn Card” to create personalized Visa check and credit cards.
Once the cardholder has logged onto the site, cardholders can either
upload an image of their own or choose one from a variety of galleries,
including San Diego beaches and plants. Using a cutting-edge designer,
they can then enlarge, rotate, move or flip their chosen image so they
get just the card they want in a matter of seconds. No software
downloads are needed and the entire card design process is secure.

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PayPal Q4 TPV Up 14%; Sharply Below Q3’s 28%

eBay reported that PayPal posted $623 million in net revenue for the
fourth quarter, an increase of 11% year-over-year, and up 4%
sequentially. Net total payment volume for the quarter was $16.0
billion, an increase of 14% year-over-year. The revenue and net TPV
growth was fueled by expanded adoption of PayPal Merchant Services
across the Web and the inclusion of Bill Me Later, acquired on November
7th. However, by comparison, PayPal’s third quarter revenues were up 27%
and Q3 volume rose 28%, versus the year ago quarter. Global active
registered accounts increased to 70.4 million, representing 23%
year-over-year growth. During Q4 PayPal handled 252.2 million payments,
a 18% increase over the prior quarter, and up 24% from 4Q/07. During the
quarter PayPal expanded its reach on the Web with the launch of merchant
service account deals with American Airlines (U.S.), Hoyts Cinemas
(Australia), Promarkt (Germany), Aldo Shoes (Canada), Jet2 (U.K.), Laura
Ashley (U.K.), Amway (U.S.), and Zappos.com (U.S.). It also continued
its global expansion with the launch of new localized sites in Mexico,
Hong Kong and Singapore. Additionally, PayPal extended its mobile
strategy by partnering with RIM to become the exclusive payment option
on the “BlackBerry Application StoreFront.” For complete details on
eBay/PayPal’s fourth quarter performance, visit CardData ([www.carddata.com](http://www.carddata.com)).

PAYPAL HISTORICAL
$VOLUME #ACCOUNTS
4Q/07: $14.0 billion 57.3 million
1Q/08: $14.4 billion 60.2 million
2Q/08: $14.9 billion 62.6 million
3Q/08: $14.8 billion 65.3 million
4Q/08: $16.0 billion 70.4 million
SOURCE: CardData (www.carddata.com)

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Curbing Merchant Attrition is More Than Price

A new survey has found that 78% of merchants switch credit card
processors because of pricing. However, dissatisfaction with a certain
aspect of the merchant processing relationship is generally what pushes
merchants to consider leaving. The Aite Group study found that 48% of
merchants say that poor customer service or too slow to react to their
needs are major factors too. About one-third in indicated the could not
understand their statements. Aite says attrition in merchant acquiring
represents a great opportunity for ISOs and acquirers to pick up new
customers, though competitors seeking to attract merchants away from
incumbent providers must come up with a good value proposition. More
than half of merchants that accept card payments have changed processors
at least once since they started their business. ISOs and acquirers must
focus on enhancing their product offerings, developing stellar customer
service and ensuring they are accessible to their merchants. By
structuring the sales force by vertical, processors may better appeal to
their merchant customers.

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Text-2-Transact Launched for STV Cards

Prepaid and loyalty card program provider Smart Transaction Systems has
released “Text-2-Transact” to process gift and loyalty card transactions
from any cell phone like a standard POS or payment
terminal by using the phone’s text messaging capabilities.
“Text-2-Transact” works by allowing a mobile merchant, such as a pizza
delivery driver, a farmer’s market vendor, or a mall kiosk, to use a
cell phone to “text” the particulars of a gift or loyalty card
transaction to Smart Transaction Systems. Smart Transaction Systems
immediately sends back an approval or decline message confirming the
status of the transaction. Text-2-Transact uses numeric values to
represent every aspect of the
transaction, making the process much faster and simpler than traditional
text messaging. Unlike standard POS terminals, there are no downloads,
no extensive set-up processes, no rental fees, or special requirements.

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SYBASE & PAYBOX

Enterprise software service Sybase has acquired mobile payment provider
paybox solutions AG. paybox will be integrated into Sybase 365. As a
provider of the broadest mobile commerce
offering, paybox brings Sybase a proven track record and a solid
customer base. Sybase will now provide mobile operators, financial
institutions and
merchants with a full suite of mobile payment solutions enabling their
customers to undertake person-to-person remittances, make payments for
goods and services, top-up mobile airtime and pay bills from a mobile
device, in both developed and emerging markets.

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GEMALTO E-ID CARDS

Digital security provider Gemalto will deliver an additional one million
electronic ID cards for citizens and residents of the
Kingdom of Bahrain. This electronic identity card, the size of a credit
card, is now the official ID for Bahrain citizens, as well as foreign
residents. The contactless technology combined with the match-on card
biometric capability allows the ID card to be also used as a travel
document, increasing speed,
convenience and security of identity verification at border crossing.
Gemalto will also provide consultancy on smart card
related solutions, including Public Key Infrastructure and smart card
applications and training. This new high-end identity card combines
built-in biometrics, contact and contactless technologies, and serves as
official ID and travel document. The card can store medical information
of the cardholder and allows possibility for an e-driving license.

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RDS & TRANSNET

POS system provider Retail Data Systems has entered an agreement with IP
IP networking solution provider Precidia to offer the “Transnet” payment
engine. Retail Data Systems has deployed the TransNet solution in
several quick service restaurants (QSR) using existing NEC cash
registers and POS systems. TransNet is a payment application that
handles transactions from card swipe to authorization by a processor and
offers merchants and dealers the flexibility to route transactions to
any processor, without any hidden fees or difficulty. The router-based
design provides a higher level of security than competing options, by
safeguarding the payment application on a firewalled, SSL encrypted
router rather than a vulnerable PC or POS device.

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Security One FCU Switches to TNB

TNB will take over the processing of the 2,500 debit and 1,500 credit
card portfolio of TX-based Security One Federal Credit Union.
The new processing agreement enables Security One to issue new credit
union-designed plastics for its card-carrying members. Debit cardholders
will
receive a Texas-themed card and credit cardholders will receive a
patriotic card with an
image of an eagle and U.S. flag. TNB will take over the processing of
approximately 2,500 signature debit
accounts and 1,500 credit cards with outstanding balances exceeding $2
million.
The Security One FCU credit card program will be evaluated by TNB’s
portfolio
consulting team to assess pricing, product, and risk in correlation with
its performance.
Security One also plans to roll out TNB’s Rewards2U loyalty program for
both its
signature debit and credit cardholders. The credit union will leverage
Rewards2U
for other credit union products and services, such as online bill pay,
home loans,
and auto loans in addition to using it to reward cardholders for usage.
Security One Federal Credit Union has 10,000 members and assets of $46
million.

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