BofA Beefs-Up Security with SafePass Card

Bank of America has introduced a new wallet-sized card that offers a
one-time-use, six-digit code sent as a text message to consumers’ mobile
devices to authorize and help safeguard sensitive transactions. The new
“SafePass Card” builds on BofA’s “SafePass” service. The “SafePass Card”
is available for a one-time fee of $19.99, while the mobile-phone-based
“SafePass” is free to all customers.
The “SafePass” service offers an additional layer of security for online
transfers and BillPay; can authorize new individual or company payees;
allows for increased transfer limits; and supplements the security of
“SiteKey” authentication for transactions from unrecognized computers
and mobile devices.

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Collins Financial Lands Mezzanine Funding

TX-based Debt collector Collins Financial Services USA has received debt
financing from LBC Credit Partners, a mezzanine fund that provides
privately negotiated loans to middle market businesses. The funding will
be used to support the
company’s portfolio growth by capitalizing on the favorable purchase
opportunities currently available in the market. In additional to the
debt funding from LBC Credit Partners, Collins has
a credit facility with the Lender Finance unit of Wells Fargo Foothill,
part of Wells Fargo & Company. Collins Financial’s majority
owner is Brazos Private Equity Partners, LLC. Over the last two years,
Collins has strengthened its management team, invested in industry
leading technologies and analytical tools, improved its operational
efficiency and now has further strengthened its balance sheet to fund
new portfolio purchases.

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Americans Switch Back to Cash for Budgeting

More evidence is emerging that Americans are switching back to cash to
manage budgets and control credit card spending. A new survey from
Coinstar shows that 23% of consumers reported using cash more often to
pay for purchases compared to one year ago. Eighty-four percent of
respondents who reported using cash more often than one year ago to pay
for purchases said this was to help control spending and manage their
budgets. Six years ago when poll respondents who used cash more often
were asked the same question, only 46% said they were using cash for
this same reason. Nearly seven in 10 Americans who use cash more often
say it’s because they are concerned about credit card debt. This
compares to 48% in 2002, nearly a 50% increase. Last week Western Union
released a similar survey which found that 67% of consumers indicated
that cold hard cash may be the hot Xmas gift this year. About 53% of
those who would prefer cash would use that money on basic living
expenses such as gas, groceries and bills.

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PayPal Unveils the SMS Security Key

PayPal has introduced mobile access for its “Security Key.” The “PayPal
SMS Security Key” adds another layer of protection to PayPal accounts
and uses the same security infrastructure as the “PayPal Security Key,”
which generates a unique security code approximately every 30 seconds on
a small electronic token. Members receive this code to their phones or
tokens, and use the codes along with their usernames and passwords to
sign in to their accounts. Both the “PayPal Security Key” token and the
“SMS” security codes are now available to customers in the U.S.,
Australia, Austria, Canada and Germany. PayPal does not charge for
delivery of security codes to a mobile device. The new SMS functionality
is provided by VeriSign’s Messaging and Mobile Media Division, which
connects to more than 600 carriers and reaches more than 2.4 billion
wireless subscribers in 150 countries.

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UNIWELL & SQUIDCARD

Uniwell Systems has integrated its electronic till platform with sQuidcard’s eMoney
solution to enable contactless transactions with loyalty schemes, enabling Uniwell customers to
accept low cost cashless transactions with the available-to-all prepaid card, with
multi-purse technology. The sQuid service is based around a smartcard used for contactless
payment. Customers top-up the free prepaid card, using it at enabled tills.
sQuid is more flexible than bank card or
other loyalty schemes, and significantly cheaper for retailers than any
other cashless system. It has been specifically designed to replace cash
transactions in fast retail environments, and is compatible with
transport smartcard applications. Uniwell Systems is a value added distributor of EPOS
systems (Electronic Point of Sale), serving the hospitality, catering
and retail sectors.

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Holiday Payment Card PDV to Rise a Mere 3%

Due to a shorter holiday season, lower consumer spending and more
aggressive risk management, payment card volume for the period between
Thanksgiving and Christmas will likely rise a mere 3%. Americans are
projected to use general purpose credit/debit cards and store credit
cards to charge more than $152 billion in retail purchases this holiday
season. Based on payment card purchase volume data for the second and
third quarters of this year, current spending indices and holiday sales
projections, overall spending via all payment means is expected to be
flat or retract this year. For the 2007 holiday shopping season, holiday
purchases on general purpose credit/debit cards and store credit cards
increased about 10%, according to CardTrak ([www.cardtrak.com](http://www.cardtrak.com)). Signature
debit card use is expected to increase by 7.2%, while store credit cards
will be up 1.6%. Credit card volume is expected to be about 1.4% above
last year. Consumers will likely rack up $152.8 billion in holiday sales
on VISA, MasterCard, American Express and Discover credit cards. The
figures exclude travel, everyday and business expenses. The National
Retail Federation says total holiday retail sales are expected to increase
2.2% this year to $470.4 billion.

Holiday Card Volume
(four weeks ending 12/25)
2005 2006 2007 2008 Y/Y Gain
Credit: $ 77.1 b $ 85.6 b $ 92.2 b $ 93.5 b + 1.4%
Debit: $ 28.2 b $ 35.3 b $ 41.0 b $ 44.0 b + 7.2%
Store: $ 14.7 b $ 13.9 b $ 15.1 b $ 15.3 b + 1.6%
TOTAL $120.0 b $134.8 b $148.3 b $152.8 b + 3.0%
Source: CardData (www.carddata.com)

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OPTIMUM T4200 TRIAL

Hypercom Corporation announced that it has provided contactless-enabled
payment devices for the successful consumer trial launched recently at
Melbourne’s Docklands in Australia. The trial includes 12 merchants and 200 consumers who have
configured their phones to support contactless payments by remotely
downloading a software application on their SIM card. The trial will
continue for several more months, and is expected to show a high level
of consumer acceptance for this new means of payment.
This is the second successful mobile payment trial.
Earlier this month, Hypercom announced that Intermarche, one
of France’s leading retailers with almost 1,500 retail outlets has
installed Hypercom technology as part of the Payez Mobile Trial for NFC
payments in two test sales outlets in Caen and Strasbourg, two cities in
France.

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OneBridge Targets CUs with UltraData

Credit union card processor OneBridge has converted ND-based Capital
Credit Union to a real-time interface with Harland Financial Solution’s
“UltraData Enterprise” processing solution. As part of their conversion
to the UltraData Enterprise solution, Capital Credit Union went live
with the interface for their in-house Visa credit card program.
OneBridge provides financial institutions with complete, one-stop card
processing solutions to help them maximize the value of their in-house
credit, debit and ATM programs.

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CASH VS CARDS

According to a recent holiday retail survey conducted by
Maritz Research Canada, 70% of Canadians say they will use
cash (including debit cards) to pay for purchases and plan to spend 14% less than last year
from an average reported spend of $663 in 2007 to an average planned spend of
$571 and 66% plan on shopping at Wal-Mart. The percentage of the types of gifts include 57% for entertainment, 43% for electronics
41% for toys and 39% for gift certificates.

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Mutual Merchant Services Up 30% in 2008

Mutual Merchant Services has seen a increase of 30% in current annual
processing volume run rate of $88.5 million since January 2008.
MUTM has added several key Independent Sales Offices in the past
month. Mutual Merchant Services provides credit and
debit card acceptance, check guarantee, check verification, check
conversion, check 21, advance funding, ACH check processing, prepaid and
bill pay services and POS software, hardware, and e-commerce products.

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CONSUMER CAPABILITY

A poll commissioned by the Canadian Foundation for Economic
Education and undertaken by The Strategic Counsel, shows that many Canadians
may have unjustified confidence in their own financial and economic
capability. Among the Survey discoveries, Canadians in general appear to be more confident about personal
financial matters than understanding the economy and economic issues.
When the 1000 respondents were given 13 multiple-choice economic and financial questions, the
results were as follows: 10%: Very knowledgeable; 34%: Somewhat knowledgeable; 28% Struggling and 20%: Limited knowledge.
Over the course of the Survey, those with higher education show greater knowledge and confidence and those with more knowledge and
confidence indicated that they had higher levels of income and the overall level of knowledge and confidence of men appears to be
higher than for women. Those 18-34 years of age report the lowest levels of financial confidence and knowledge. Other findings include:
94% were not aware that Canada’s national debt was between $250 and $499 billion. 49% had no idea; 78% were not able to identify “homes” or real estate as the single
greatest source of wealth for most families and 76% did not know that the highest rate of interest that can legally be
charged is 60%.

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