AmEx Lands Card Partnership in San Francisco

American Express is now the “Official Card Partner of the San Francisco
Convention & Visitors Bureau”. American Express p will help SFCVB
members extend their marketing reach and provide insights to member
businesses to help them understand current customers, identify new
customers and entice lapsed customers to return.Some of the first
programs that will take place as a part of this
partnership include “American Express Exclusive Offers – Only in San
Francisco” value-added offers from San Francisco retailers, hotels,
restaurants, and spas; “3 Nights for the price of 2″ and “Dine About
Town San Francisco, ” where diners may select from more than 100 Bay
Area restaurants offering prix-fixe lunch menus for $21.95 and/or
dinner menus for $34.95 with American Express as the preferred method of
payment.

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FNDS3000 Names a New CEO and a New EVP

Prepaid card provider FNDS3000 has appointed John Hancock, previously
with British American Business
Council as CEO/Director and John Watson, previously with Howdens
Millwork, will serve as EVP/Director. Hancock presently serves as
Chairman of the British American Business Council, the
premier transatlantic trade group, with some thirty chapters in the USA
and the UK and over 3000 Corporate Members. He has spent most of his
career in the Retail Services industry in Europe, Asia and North
America. Watson served as EVP/CAO of Howdens Millwork and was
responsible for planning, administration and financial management.
FNDS3000’s focus has been on the development and implementation of a
variety of prepaid card programs outside the USA, including services to
individuals who lack access to debit cards or advanced banking services.

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U.S. Consumer Sentiment Returns to Record Lows

Consumer sentiment has returned to a near six-year low after getting a late summer boost from falling oil prices. The continuing credit crunch, deteriorating jobs market, the auto industry bailout and other bleak economic news have bombarded consumers this fall. The overall “RBC CASH Index” stands at 15.3 for December, 19.4 points below November, and nearly in line with the all-time low of 14.6 reached in July. The “RBC Jobs Index” dropped more than 8 points in December to 65.6. The “RBC Expectations Index” dropped 44.5 points, to -21.2, the first time the index has been in negative territory since August.
The “RBC Current Conditions Index” dropped to an all-time low in December and currently stands at 16.5, compared to 25.6 last month.
The “RBC Investment Index” which was at 34.8 in November, currently stands at 31.0, a new low since the index was created in 2002.

RBC CASH INDEX
Dec 07: 65.9
Jan 08: 56.3
Feb 08: 48.5
Mar 08: 33.1
Apr 08: 29.5
May 08: 39.0
Jun 08: 22.5
Jul 08: 14.6
Aug 08: 33.8
Sep 08: 69.2
Oct 08: 37.0
Nov 08: 34.7
Dec 08: 15.3
Source: Royal Bank of Canada

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Oasis Online Hires a New Board Member

Data storage product developer Oasis Online Technologies has appointed
Jean Rice, presently the President of Action Healthcare Management
Services, to the Board of Directors. Rice is President and a principal
of Action Healthcare Management
Services which serves self-funded employer group health plans,
third party administrators and Taft-Hartley Trusts, major insurance
companies, hospitals and school districts throughout the United States.
Oasis Online Technologies is focused on the acquisition and
development of core technologies and products that are easily adapted to
multiple market segments which require secure mobile storage of
information and data that is convenient, portable, and can be used
online or offline.

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NFC for M-Payments Not Ready for Prime Time

A new report released this week concludes that “Near Field Communication” technology will not offer viable large-scale mobile payment solutions for at least six years. ABI Research’s “Mobile Commerce and Payments” study calculated the potential revenue in 2013 from mobile transactions using SMS, mobile Internet and downloadable mobile applications to be $18 billion. The research, cited in this week’s CardFlash International, also found that Internet shopping would account for almost three quarters of mobile commerce revenue in 2013. A further 15% would come from parking, with the balance split about evenly between taxi fares and movie tickets. ABI noted that companies already seizing mobile payment opportunities include parking solutions provider Verrus, Bharti Airtel and movie theater operators in India, as well as eBay and Amazon.

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NFC SLOW ADOPTION

A new report released by ABI Research titled “Mobile Commerce and
Payments” examines several emerging
markets in which consumers are or will be using their mobile devices to
purchase goods or services using SMS and mobile Internet. It highlights
important players within the space, suggests who should play and who
will benefit, and outlines what MNOs, merchants, and financial services
providers can do to take advantage of these opportunities. According
to the report, near field communication (NFC) has developed more slowly
than anticipated, and will not offer
viable large-scale mobile payment solutions for at least six years. In
the mean time three existing technologies – SMS, mobile Internet and
downloadable mobile applications – have the potential to deliver what
NFC (so far) cannot.

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Aberdeen Releases a Report on POS Systems

Marketing intelligence service Aberdeen has released the “Aberdeen AXIS
Report for POS Systems” that provides POS vendor assessments. Aberdeen
found that at least 60% of
retailers have POS or point-of-service systems that are older than five
years; out of the 60%, 35% of retailers currently use POS systems that
are older than 10 years. AXIS was developed in
response to requests from Aberdeen’s 2.5+ million business readers
spanning 40 countries, including representation from 90% of the Fortune
1000. Aberdeen is a provider of fact-based research and market
intelligence.

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TASQ & HYPERCOM

One of the largest providers of POS equipment and services in North America has inked a deal to market Hypercom’s new 32-bit “Optimum T4205” to the Canadian marketplace. TASQ Technology will offer the new terminal which is targeted at small independent merchants. The “T4205” shares the same platform and compact form factor inherent in Hypercom’s “T4200” line of products. It is “PCI PED” approved and “Interac” certified. It supports French, English and Spanish and can process debit, credit, smart card and value-added transactions such as gift/loyalty. TASQ says the “T4205” is an excellent entry-level solution for small merchants looking for an upgraded “EMV/Interac” terminal replacement.

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APACS PAYMENT GUIDE

Payment association APACS has produced “Payments & accessibility”, a
new advice guide aimed at helping consumers with a disability access the
range of services available. The Payments & accessibility guide covers
a range of payment methods, including cheques, telephone and internet
banking and plastic cards, together with advice on staying safe from
fraud. It is free to download
from the APACS website at www.apacs.org.uk and has been shared with
groups representing those with disabilities.
Under The Banking Code, banks and building societies are obliged to
provide customers with alternatives if they are unable to use standard
services.

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Skybox Security Joins the PCI Council

Risk and compliance management solution provider Skybox Security has
joined the PCI Security Standards Council as a new participating
organization. As a Participating Organization, Skybox Security will now
have access to the latest payment card security standards from the
Council, be able to provide feedback on the standards and become part of
a growing community that now includes nearly 500 organizations. Skybox
is the first and only network compliance and assurance
vendor to support the PCI DSS V1.2 standard released in October. Through
its participation, Skybox aims to the advance the automation of
assessments and compliance processes for network-related PCI
requirements – some of the most difficult for enterprises to enforce due
to high complexity and labor costs.

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WIRECARD & LIDL

Electronic payment provider Wirecard has been selected to provide credit
card payment processing for retailer Lidl’s new online shop. Lidl is a
retailer of household goods, tools and toys and winter
sport articles. In implementing the project, a great deal of importance
was assigned to establishing the shop from the very beginning on a
technologically sophisticated level and simultaneously exploiting the
existing core structures of the parent company, Schwarz Group. Wirecard
supports over 10,000 companies from many and various industry segments in automating their payment processes and minimizing cases of default. Wirecard Bank provides account and credit card services both for business and private customers and is a Principal Member of VISA, MasterCard and JCB.

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