Cyber Monday Beats Expectations; Rises 15%

While holiday season retail e-commerce spending between November 1st
and December 1st is down about 2% over last year, “Cyber Monday” sales
soared by 15% to become the second heaviest online spending day on
record. For the first four weeks of the holiday season, $12 billion has
been spent online with “Cyber Monday” producing $846 million. According
to comScore, 51% of consumers indicated that the level of promotions and
discounts is higher this year than last year, while only 12% said that
there appeared to be fewer, suggesting that retailers are having to be
more aggressive in discounting to spur consumer spending. The latest
comScore data show “Pre-Thanksgiving” e-sales were off by 4%, but rose
about 12% since then. comScore noted that “Green Monday” 2007 was the
highest online spending day ever with $881 million in e-sales.
Historically, the two weeks before Christmas produce the highest volume.

2008 Holiday Season
($ millions)
2007 2008 CHNG
Nov 1 – Dec 1 $12,217 $12,025 -2%
Pre-Thanksgiving $10,035 $9,588 -4%
Thanksgiving and Later $ 2,182 $2,437 12%
Thanksgiving Day $ 272 $288 6%
Black Friday $ 531 $534 1%
Thanksgiving Weekend $ 645 $769 19%
Cyber Monday $ 733 $846 15%
Source: comScore

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BIZ OWNERS

A new survey from American Express indicate that 90% of small business
owners expressed they

“love to get up every day and do what I do” and 80%
believe they enjoy a better quality of life since starting their own
business. When asked if they would do it all
over again, 93% say they would. Financial rewards and the opportunity to make it rich might be commonly
perceived as motivators, but there are several other factors that figure
prominently when business owners reflect on what drives them,
with 62% stating it is the independence and control that being an entrepreneur offers.
The American Express survey results confirm that running a small
business is indeed a tough job. Owners work, on average,
45 hours a week, with 45% working more than 50 hours in a
typical week. Stress levels are high with 78% saying
they feel the pressure of being the ultimate decision maker and having
accountability for the success of their enterprise.

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EQUIFAX & NOVA SCOTIA

Nova Scotians can now have access to Equifax Canada’s credit reports and credit scores
online as a result of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal
Relations’ November decision, which allowed consumer reporting agencies to
sell online credit reports. Nova Scotia previously prohibited the online sale of credit reports
based on an interpretation of its Consumer Reporting Act – the Act governing the
collection and distribution of personal information by consumer reporting
agencies.

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MOBILE TRANSFERS

According to the results of a recent survey by mobile payment provider
Upaid, nearly 75% of expatriate Latin Americans would like to be able to
send money back to their home country via mobile money transfers. The
majority of those questioned (61%) are spending over US$75 a month on
fees and commission associated with cross-border payments, with many
considering their current method of money transfer “expensive”.
Many more respondents found other methods of transfer
more affordable, with less than half believing money transfer via cheque
or telephone is expensive (44% and 46% respectively).
The more traditional methods of transferring money are currently most
popular, with 80% having visited a shop. However, nearly
three quarters of those surveyed were keen to use mobile as a method for
transfer in the future, with 70% of those that currently use
mobile phones to transfer money are males aged 25 to 34.

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CITI CLEAR PAYWAVE

Citi has added “Visa payWave” technology to its “Clear Card” program. Purchases under a total value of Rp200.000 can be processed via the contactless option. “Visa payWave” is currently available in 200 outlets across Indonesia with more than 1,000 outlets expected to offer the contactless payment option early next year. The new contactless “Citi Clear Card” is targeted at young, tech-savvy customers between the ages of 21 and 39. The newly enhanced card features “M2S” offers from Citibank merchant partners such as Cinema XXI, The Body Shop, Hard Rock Café, Embassy The Club, Public, Gloria Jean’s Coffee, Cold Rocks
Ice Creamery, Gelatissmo and many more. The “Clear Afterhours” program includes many eateries, cafes and bars where our customers can enjoy live music and ‘buy 1 get 1 free’ food and beverage offers. The “Citi Clear Card” was launched in Indonesia in 2003.

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University Natl Picks TransCard for Prepaid

Prepaid debit card provider TransCard has signed an agreement with MN-based University National Bank
to process prepaid transactions. University Bank was the first bank to be certified as
a Community Development Financial Institution in Minnesota.
The bank aggressively lends to economically challenged communities in
Saint Paul and Minneapolis and has created several lending and depository
products to assist underserved neighborhoods gain access to capital and cash.
TransCard handles $1.4 billion in electronic transactions annually and was
recently featured as a “10 to Watch” by Intele-Card News and is a provider of
prepaid
debit card solutions branded with Discover® Network, MasterCard and STAR
associations.

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CONTACTLESS WEBINAR

Frost & Sullivan’s Smart Cards
Practice in Asia Pacific will host “Asia Pacific Contactless Smart Card Market: What will keep it going
in 2009?” on December 17th. This briefing will look at key applications, market trends and
challenges faced by the Asia Pacific market during this time and will provide an update
of related and upcoming research and provide an opportunity for a question and
answer session with the analyst. Highlights include a focus on mass transit, government
ID and contactless payment applications and leading countries in these industries.

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4th Quarter Could Be an Inflection Point

The U.S. credit card market is taking it on the chin as charge-offs
march upward in tandem with rising unemployment rates. A new research
report found that credit card issuers remained profitable through 2007,
but card receivables and volume growth have continued their general
slowing since then. The Mercator Advisory Group study suggests that the
fourth quarter could be an inflection point in consumer card borrowing.
Issuers are deploying their recessionary credit management tools.
However, the big unknown is how issuers will deal with a new external
challenge: the loan funding crunch. Two extreme scenarios are suggested
for 2009: one where the Fed’s TALF facility helps issuers maintain
funding, and an alternative where a perfect storm of converging events
re-shapes the card industry. Mercator says some of the most threatening
possibilities for the credit card industry reflect potentialities it has
never before experienced.

Charge-Offs & Unemployment
Unemployment Charge-Offs
4Q/06: 4.6% 4.1%
1Q/07: 4.5% 3.9%
2Q/07: 4.6% 3.7%
3Q/07: 4.7% 4.0%
4Q/07: 4.9% 4.1%
1Q/08: 5.0% 4.5%
2Q/08: 5.7% 5.3%
3Q/08: 6.5% 5.4%
Source: Mercator Advisory Group

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AmEx Expands its Travel Program Assessment

American Express Business Travel has introduced a complimentary travel
program assessment to identify cost savings. The
assessment will use a proprietary solution to analyze key performance
indicators such as
online booking adoption, nonrefundable ticket usage and compliance to
preferred vendors and travel policies. In addition to the free travel
program assessment, American Express Business Travel also recommends
several tools and strategies within its
solutions suite to help companies recession-proof their travel programs,
manage travel spending through this economic crisis and drive savings
year round. Services include “Aim to Reclaim” – a service that
identifies and tracks refundable tickets, allowing travelers to reclaim
lost travel dollars by finding
and processing unused e-tickets. “Confirm they Conform” – technology
that can automatically confirm an
employee has booked within company policy. “Calculate Savings Realized”
-is a proprietary methodology to measure the
effectiveness of the strategies and solutions implemented by a company.
This tool is able to calculate the true savings a company has realized
over a period of time, and goes hand-in-hand with the “Opportunity
Forecaster” and “Peer Power”, a social online community built for
professionals
who manage travel for their companies. Companies interested in
receiving the free assessment can log on to
American Express’ corporate travel online community
www.BusinessTravelConneXion.com.

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BankCard USA Victimized by Click-Fraud

Card processing provider BankCard USA has teamed with
Connection Marketing to reduce pay-per-click
fraud against online advertisers. Click-fraud allows competitors to prevent
their competition from making sales online, thereby significantly
reducing a business’s profit and potentially running their competitors
out of business altogether. BankCard USA has commissioned Connection Marketing to
create a universal protocol to catch, identify, and deal with
perpetrators of click-fraud. The findings will be made public and
free-of-charge at BankCard USA’s website. Currently, Bankcard USA has
made available on its website Connection Marketing’s Click Fraud Defense
101 manual that online advertisers can use to reduce their exposure to
click fraud.

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FDIC Finds Overdraft Programs to be Abusive

A new survey reveals that debit card transactions are the most
frequent cause of overdrafts and that these purchases typically are less
than the overdraft fee charged. In most cases, banks do not warn
customers at the ATM machine or checkout counter if their transaction
will result in this fee. The FDIC report also shows that over half of
the large banks surveyed process overdrafts from largest to smallest,
which can artificially increase the number of overdrafts fees incurred
by consumers. The FDIC found that a majority of banks reported
automatically enrolling customers into overdraft systems that impose a
fee. Rules under consideration by the Federal Reserve Board would
require banks to give customers the choice of opting out of the
expensive, fee-based overdraft program. The FDIC says that artificially
increasing overdrafts without a customer’s express consent unfairly
strips billions of dollars annually from checking accounts.

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Barclaycard US Unveils Holland America Visa

Barclaycard US has christened the “Holland America Line
Rewards Visa.” It is Carnival’s Holland America Line first co-branded credit card. For every $1 spent on Holland America Line purchases, cardholders earn two Holland America Points. For all other purchases, cardholders earn one point. Cardholders earn 5,000 points upon first use and can accrue an additional 5,000 points for balance transfers completed within the first 30 days of account opening. Points can be redeemed for various cruise packages and onboard services and amenities.
The card is available as a “Visa Signature” and “Visa Platinum” card.
Last year Barclays launched the “Princess Rewards VISA Signature” card with Carnival. (CF Library 11/06/07)

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