Final 08 Holiday Tally Worse Than Expected

Bricks and clicks retailers faced the most challenging sales environment in years for a holiday shopping season. The National Retail Federation reports that holiday sales declined 2.8% in 2008, weaker than its projected -2.2% forecast. It represents the first decline in holiday sales since NRF started forecasting and tracking the numbers in 1995.
Retail industry sales for December (which exclude automobiles, gas stations, and restaurants) declined 2.2% unadjusted over last year and decreased 1.4% seasonally adjusted from November. November sales were revised down to a 3.4% decline unadjusted year-over-year from the original reported 2.2%. December retail sales released today by the U.S. Commerce Department show total retail sales (which include non-general merchandise categories such as autos, gasoline stations and restaurants) decreased 2.7% seasonally adjusted from last month and dropped 7.9% unadjusted year-over-year.

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Plastic Jungle Names a New CEO

Web-based gift card exchange service Plastic Jungle has hired Gary
Briggs, previous with eBay, as its new CEO.Briggs most recently served
as Chief Marketing Officer for eBay North America, where he also held
several executive positions including vice president and country
manager, eBay Canada (www.ebay.ca) and vice
president, consumer marketing at eBay.com. During his tenure at eBay,
Briggs led the brand, advertising, consumer research, promotion and
entertainment marketing efforts for the company, where he earned
Brandweek’s “Marketer of the Year” award in 2003, and was also on the
“Best of 2003” lists of USA Today, The Wall Street Journal and
Advertising Age. Before joining eBay, Briggs was one of the founders and
Chief Marketing
Officer of OurHouse.com and was Director of
Worldwide Brand Strategy for IBM Corporation, where he was responsible
for the company’s brand positioning and cross-corporate marketing
integration and co-authored the marketing strategy for the company’s
“e-business” campaign.

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Latitude Software Offers Payment Vision

MD-based receivable management solution provider Latitude Software is now offering the “Payment Vision”
payment gateway powered by Autoscribe. “Payment Vision” concentrates payments captured
at various windows such as IVR, Internet and call centers. All payment
collection windows connect to a central hub which collapses payment
silos into a single administrative, risk management and reporting system.
Under the agreement, PayAPI will be connected to the Latitude collection
system. The integrated solution will allow users of Latitude to schedule
one-time and recurring ACH, credit and debit card payments directly from
within their collection software screens. Latitude Software is a provider of collection
software that meets the needs of collection agencies, collection law
firms, debt buyers, and credit grantors.

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Prepaid Cards Move Beyond Young and Poor

Prepaid card products are moving beyond lower income and younger consumers and are now spread relatively evenly among most income groups.
A new report finds that about 18% of Americans earning between $35,000 and $75,000 per year are using prepaid products both online and offline.
Javelin Strategy & Research says with multiple loading and reloading mechanisms available today, prepaid cards have longer-term usage and are less disposable in nature, making prepaid programs attractive to financial institutions as a versatile method to increase revenue. Also, the multi-channel nature of the prepaid relationship with middle-to-higher income consumers demonstrates and validates the revenue stream capabilities that prepaid issuance provides. Javelin also found that security is paramount in prepaid card issuance, not only in terms of fraud mitigation but also in the scrutiny that issuers face to comply with anti-money-laundering and “know your customer” initiatives. The new report finds that the processor choice is often overlooked and undervalued by prepaid program managers.

PREPAID USAGE
(by Annual Income)

$150K
None 22% 17% 15% 3%
Online 9% 14% 21% 9%
Offline 11% 16% 21% 5%
Source: Javelin Strategy & Research

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US Airways to Deploy FraudNet for Cards

Atlanta-based Transform will implement “41st Parameter’s FraudNet”
software for US Airways. The 41st Parameter’s “FraudNet” prevention software utilizes a
risk engine and “device fingerprint” for all ticket buying transactions
enabling US Airways to analyze for suspect travel patterns,
billing inconsistencies, high risk ticket characteristics,
booking patterns, software patterns, and many other data elements
not utilized by traditional risk management solutions.
Transform (321transform.com) is a management and technology consulting
firm that develops and implement initiatives focused on
increasing revenue and quality, decreasing costs and variation, and driving
profitable growth. 41st Parameter’s solutions provide Internet security,
decreases the anonymity of the Internet and assist clients to gain
valuable insight into every online transaction and customer
interaction.

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FINANCIAL CRISIS

A new survey has found that the majority of people think
the problems in the economy will soon lead to a ‘Global Depression.’ About 72% in the U.K., 72% in France, 66% in Germany and 60% in the U.S. think that this is the case. TNS found that the majority of respondents across all countries believe that the crisis will continue for at least another one or two years, this figure is 59% for the U.K., 57% in the U.S., 49% for Germany and 56% for France. Only 18% of the respondents in the U.S. and France believe that the crisis will have no direct effect on their personal situation. This is much higher in the U.K. (26%) and even higher in Germany (32%). TNS also found that 33% of U.S. and 29% in the U.K. are the most in fear of losing their jobs. The fear of losing one’s house is greatest in the U.S. (mentioned by 11%).

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Great Clips to Install NCR Bundled POS

NCR has entered into an agreement with hair care franchisor Great Clips
to offer a turnkey, bundled
POS solution to more than 2,700 franchised salons throughout the United
States and Canada.
Developed collaboratively by NCR and Great Clips, the POS package
includes the “NCR RealPOS” 70 workstation, preloaded
Great Clips “StyleWare” custom software, and peripherals including an NCR
thermal printer. The customized POS solution is
designed to maximize front-end uptime through reliable technology and
the availability of extensive support services.
To ensure the solution is ready when needed, the
technology is backed by an extensive services program in which the salon
receives Help Desk support as well as five-year, same-day, on-site
maintenance coverage. Professional on-site installation is also
available to the salons.

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3V VIRTUAL VISA

The ACI Worldwide solution that provides a managed, hosted version of “ACI Retail Commerce Server” has been drawing new retail customers amidst the challenging economic environment. “ACI On Demand” offers new and existing customers with payment processing software, yet off-loads the cost of hardware and operating system expenses.
During 2008, 30% of ACI’s merchant retail customers in the Americas either renewed or extended their licenses. In addition to these product renewals and extensions, ACI added four new customers last year. The electronic payment systems software provider is expected to release fourth quarter data in February. The Company reported revenue of $108.6 million in the third quarter, a 28% gain over the prior-year period. Net income for the quarter was $1.7 million compared to net loss of $1.3 million during 3Q/07. At the end of the third quarter, there was an estimated 60-month backlog of $1.4 billion compared to $1.3 billion one-year ago. ACI continues to expect full year 2008 sales between $430 million and $440 million. For complete details on ACI’s latest performance visit CardData (www.carddata.com).

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CVC SENIOR ADVISOR

Global private equity firm CVC Capital Partners has appointed Larry A. Klane as Senior Advisor
Klane will work with CVC’s Global Financial Institutions Team to support CVC’s global investment advisory
activities in the financial services sector. Most recently, Klane served as
President of the Global Financial Services division of Capital One
Financial Corporation. He joined Capital One in 2000 to help lead
the company’s transformation to a diversified financial services
business. Klane’s other responsibilities during his tenure at
Capital One included overseeing the firm’s international activities, a
range of domestic lending businesses, Capital One’s direct deposit
business, and all mergers and acquisitions activities. He was also a
member of Capital One’s Executive Committee, a Director of Capital One
Federal Savings Bank, and Chairman of the Board of Capital One Bank
Europe PLC. Klane is a graduate of Harvard College and the Stanford Graduate
School of Business. CVC funds have investments in 51 companies worldwide employing approximately
434,000 people in numerous countries. Together, these companies have
combined annual sales of approximately $90 billion.

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WESTLB & FDC

First Data has signed a partnership agreement with state bank WestLB to
launch “First Merchant Solutions” to provide card acceptance services for retail
customers in Germany and across Europe. WestLB will provide the licenses and payment services
infrastructure while First Data will provide a comprehensive range of
merchant acquiring services. The creation of the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) is a central factor
in simplifying the regulatory, commercial and technological environment
to benefit international merchants, service providers and acquirers.
Against this background, the retail sector has needed a valid,
cross-border card acceptance agreement that enables retailers to
benefit from greater efficiency, more competitive pricing and the
assurance of settlement and payment flow to any desired account within
the SEPA region.

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Subway to Deploy Torex QSR POS Solution

POS solution provider Torex has entered into an agreement with QSR
SUBWAY to implement the “Torex Quick Service Restaurant POS solution”.
The solution is capable of growing with the
business as the SUBWAY restaurant chain continues its expansion
program. Additionally, working with a proven global solution means that
sandwich franchisor minimizes the risk to its business while controlling
costs and enabling speed to market. Upon completion of the roll out
the SUBWAY chain will have Torex software installed in over 30,000 of
its restaurants in 87 countries.

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LUXE VISA INFINITE

Wing Lung Bank has officially rolled-out the world’s first “Visa” payment card embedded with a real diamond and surrounded by a platinum membrane. The new “LUXE Visa Infinite” will be offered by invitation only to customers holding at least HK$5 million in assets with the bank. The “Visa” card offers a HK$1 cash rebate for every HK$200 spent, with a bonus of up to four times at selected merchants. Other perks include: private chef, shopping, entertainment, tailoring service and worldwide personal assistant service. Also, complimentary access to golf courses, private clubs and airport lounges. Other international issuers of “Visa Infinite” cards include: The Royal Bank of Canada; CIBC Aerogold; Emirates Bank; and United Overseas Bank. (CFI Library 9/29/03; 6/4/07; 3/14/08; 3/17/08)

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