U.S. Economic Concerns Mount in Sept

A new survey reveals that 63% say are either very- or
extremely-concerned about the future of the economy. Also, 57%
developing new business as their number-one challenge through the
remainder of the year and “access to cash” ranked number-two at 18%.
The new survey by Harris Interactive for ING DIRECT’s “ShareBuilder
401k” also found that nearly six out of 10 small business owners
feel there are not enough incentives in place to help them start a
401(k). Many may not be aware that in addition to the tax-deferred
savings that come from most retirement programs, small businesses
starting a 401(k) plan can also receive annual tax credits of $500 for
each of the first three years after they enroll.


INSIDE Contactless Expands MicroPass

Contactless platform provider INSIDE Contactless is building
upon its “MicroPass” platform to support a variety of “ICAO-Lite”
identity applications. The International Civil Aviation Organization
has set standards for ePassports and eVisas based upon the use of
contactless chip technology with large EEPROM memory requirements to
store high-resolution biometric data and other identity information. But
ePassports, eVisas and other heavyweight ICAO ID applications represent
only about 10 percent of the overall identity market, leaving a huge,
unserved potential market for INSIDE’s ICAO-Lite solutions. As a result,
INSIDE is anticipating strong market demand for other ID cards and
documents with less stringent storage requirements and for customers
requiring lower cost solutions.


US Biometrics Access Signs GEICO FCU

MD-based GEICO FCU recently purchased and implemented US Biometrics’
AccessQ system for controlling physical access to various entrances with
fingerprint biometrics. US Biometrics worked with GEICO to specify and
implement the hardware and software system to biometrically
control strategic entrances within their facility. IL-based US
Biometrics designs biometric technologies for financial, corporate, and
healthcare clients who require absolute authentication of customers and



The Open Mobile Terminal Platform’s (OMTP) Advanced Trusted Environment
has given GlobalPlatform approval for
“GPD / STIP v2.3 Mobile Profile Specification” technology that offers a
standardized platform which authorizes the isolation
of applications with different security levels, enabling the existence
of diverse security driven business models to reside on one terminal and
“DASM”, a series of specifications eases application
deployment in a multiple actor mobile terminal environment. It
compromises of three documents: DASM Concepts and Descriptions, DASM Key
and Certificate Management, and DASM Provisioning.OMTP is backed by many
of the
largest mobile operators and has members from 24 hardware and software
vendors across the value chain. OMTP recommendations benefit carriers,
content providers, middleware vendors and handset manufacturers to
develop open and compatible mobile devices.


Chase/BP Visa Launches a New Gas Promo

BP announces a new promotion for its exclusive Chase credit card, the BP Visa, offering new customers a 10 percent rebate on all BP purchases within the 60 day promotional period. Chase Bank U.S.A., NA, is the credit card division and subsidiary of JPMorgan Chase & Co. [NYSE: JPM].

The 10 percent rebate translates into cents off per each gallon of gas. For example, if a driver were buying gasoline for $3.50 per gallon, that would be a 35-cent rebate with each gallon of gasoline. In addition, all new BP Visa cardmembers immediately enjoy double rebates earning four percent on eligible travel and dining purchases and two percent on most other purchases.
“The holidays are quickly approaching and soon we’ll all be busy with gift giving and traveling to see friends and family,” said Dave VanWiggeren, cards marketing manager, BP. “Who couldn’t use some extra cash in their pockets? With the BP Visa card’s rebate offer, cardmembers can earn rebates on all their purchases this holiday season.”

Donna Barrett, retail general manager, Chase Card Services, said: “Chase has been happy to serve BP customers for over three years. We believe that in this economic environment, it is helpful to illustrate how the rebate will transfer directly to savings at the pump and on all other purchases. We are confident consumers will be interested in the many rewards that come with using the Chase BP Visa card.”

While gasoline rebate cards continue to grow in popularity, it’s important to know that not all cards are created equal. Chase and BP have developed a unique rewards program for BP Visa cardmembers. Because the card is exclusive to BP, the gasoline rewards received are higher than most other gasoline rewards cards. BP Visa cardmembers will continue to receive rewards after the close of the promotional period, earning five percent on all BP purchases, and two percent on all eligible travel and dining, and one percent on virtually all other purchases.

Cardmembers also have the opportunity to decide how they would like to redeem their rewards. For every $25 earned in rebates, members can choose to receive a $25 BP gift card, a personal check or make a donation to The Conservation Fund, an environmental charity.

Evidence shows that BP-branded marketers benefit from the very competitive product offer. “BP Visa cardmembers go from visiting BP for roughly 35percent of their fueling trips to 70percent after receiving the card,” states VanWiggeren.

New BP Visa credit cards can be opened by going to www.choosebp.com or stopping by a BP location for an application.

About BP
BP markets more than 15 billion gallons of gasoline every year to U.S. consumers through more than 10,000 BP and ARCO branded retail outlets and supplies more than four billion gallons of fuel annually to fleets, industrial users, auto and truck manufacturers, railroads and utilities.

BP is the single, global brand formed by the combination of the former British Petroleum, Amoco Corporation, Atlantic Richfield (ARCO) and Burmah Castrol. BP is a global producer, manufacturer and marketer of oil, gas, chemicals and renewable energy sources.

About JPMorgan Chase & Co.
JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM) is a leading global financial services firm with assets of $1.8 trillion and operations in more than 60 countries. The company has more than 157 million credit cards issued. The firm is a leader in investment banking, financial services for consumers, small business and commercial banking, financial transaction processing, asset management, and private equity. A component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, JPMorgan Chase serves millions of consumers and businesses in the United States and many of the world’s most prominent corporate, institutional and government clients under its JPMorgan and Chase brands. Information about the firm is available at www.jpmorganchase.com.


Small Biz Owners Confidence Collapse

Economic confidence among small business owners slipped sharply in
September. The real mover of this month’s confidence level is the
overall sense that the economy is getting worse. The “Discover Small
Business Watch” fell to 74.6 in September, down 12.3 points from August.
Discover also found that 42% of small business owners have experienced
cash flow issues over the last 90 days, unchanged from August; 51%
believe economic conditions for their businesses are getting worse, up
from 44% in August; and the number of small business owners who think
the U.S. economy is getting worse rose to 73% from 60% in August.
Additionally, 67% of small business owners say that despite the current
economic climate, they have not been forced to borrow money to pay bills
for their business. In addition, 73% say gas prices are having a
negative effect on their profitability.


Firethorn and Fifth Third Ink a Deal

Leading mobile commerce
enabler Firethorn Holdings, LLC, a Qualcomm company announced that it has entered into an agreement with Fifth Third Processing
Solutions to bring mobile banking services to its 2,880 financial
institutions. As part of the relationship, Fifth Third Processing Solutions
will offer Firethorn’s products to its processing financial institution
clients, leveraging existing integration and connectivity to deploy
Firethorn’s mobile application. Fifth Third Processing Solutions plans to
make the service available to its financial institutions before the end of
the year.

Through Firethorn’s mobile banking solution, Fifth Third’s customers
will be able to check account balances, view transaction details and
transfer funds. Additionally, end-users will gain access to their account
history and can make account balance inquiries through SMS. Future
capabilities will include more advanced mobile transactions and mobile

Because Firethorn is a preferred mobile commerce enabler among the
nation’s leading mobile network operators, clients such as Fifth Third
Processing Solutions gain the unique advantage of preferred placement of
their brands on the wireless handset to drive adoption, and they enjoy
fully integrated end-to-end customer support.

Angela Brown, Fifth Third Processing Solutions’ senior vice president
and general manager of financial institutions services, references
Firethorn’s market position, rich history in financial services and its
vision for the future of payments as key differentiators setting Firethorn
apart from its competitors.

“At Fifth Third Processing Solutions, we see this relationship as more
than reselling Firethorn’s products,” said Brown. “It also is an
opportunity to creatively leverage the best aspects of both organizations’
domain experience, moving mobile commerce to market quickly. This
relationship allows us to gain momentum in this growing industry. This is a
huge step forward in payment innovation.”

Firethorn’s collaboration with Fifth Third Processing Solutions is
significant for consumers, as the relationship allows Firethorn to bring
them relevant content conveniently on their mobile devices in a secure,
easy-to-use application. Eventually, it also will allow Firethorn to bring
traditional and non-traditional transactions to Fifth Third’s 20 million
cardholders and numerous other financial institutions through the Jeanie(R)
Network, as well as through direct connection to other debit and credit
card networks.

“By joining forces with Fifth Third Processing Solutions, we gain
multiple touch points with core processors, debit networks and credit
networks, giving us access across the financial services industry,” said
Tripp Rackley, CEO of Firethorn. “Our relationship with Fifth Third
Processing Solutions extends beyond mobile banking and is another step in
our efforts to collaborate with the right companies and institutions that
bring value through financial services, merchant relationships and
point-of-sale payment capabilities. Our mission at Firethorn is to monetize
the mobile channel for our strategic clients. We do this by creating
opportunities — through the Firethorn solution — to generate revenue,
improve customer acquisition and retention and lower operational and
servicing costs.”

As the mobile commerce subsidiary of global wireless technology leader
Qualcomm, Firethorn is able to leverage Qualcomm’s substantial wireless
technology innovations and its world-leading development expertise to
design and deliver a superior mobile user experience.

About Firethorn

Firethorn, a Qualcomm company (Nasdaq: QCOM), is a mobile commerce
enabler chosen by some of the nation’s leading financial institutions and
wireless operators. The Firethorn mobile wallet is a single, secure,
certified application embedded on select wireless handsets. It enables
financial institutions to deliver branded services to consumers via the
mobile device; wireless operators to deliver consumer-convenient,
mass-market applications to subscribers; and mobile device users to access
and add multiple financial relationships with one password. For more
information on Firethorn, visit http://www.firethornmobile.com.

About Fifth Third Processing Solutions

Fifth Third Processing Solutions processes over 26.7 billion ATM and
POS transactions per year for more than 2,880 financial institutions and
over 158,356 retail locations worldwide, including the Armed Forces
Financial Network (AFFN), First Niagara Financial Group, Sovereign Bank,
The Kroger Co., AutoZone, Abercrombie & Fitch and The Finish Line.
Annually, Fifth Third processes $179.1 billion in credit card sales.
According to The Nilson Report (March 2008), Fifth Third Bank is the fourth
largest bankcard acquirer.

Qualcomm is a registered trademark of Qualcomm Incorporated. All other
trademarks are the property of their respective owners.


Visa’s Partridge to Join the CIGNA Board

CIGNA Corporation announced that John M. Partridge, chief operating officer of Visa, Inc.,
will join CIGNA Corporation’s Board of Directors effective January 26, 2009.

“We welcome John as the newest member of our board of directors,” said
H. Edward Hanway, chairman and chief executive officer of CIGNA
Corporation. “John’s management and IT experience will certainly be
beneficial as we transform CIGNA into the nation’s leading health
service company.”

Partridge was appointed chief operating officer of Visa Inc. and interim
president of Visa U.S.A. in July 2007. He joined Visa U.S.A. in October
1999 and has served as president and CEO of Inovant since November 2000.
From 1998 until joining Visa, Partridge served as senior vice president
and chief information officer of Unum Provident Corp., where he led a
corporate restructuring initiative and had direct responsibility for
technology and operations. From 1989 to 1998, he was executive vice
president for Credicorp Inc., where he was responsible for consumer
banking, technology and operations. Prior to that he held various
management positions with Well Fargo.

He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics from the University of
California at Berkeley.

More information on CIGNA’s Board of Directors is available at:


CIGNA (NYSE: CI), one of the nation’s leading health service companies,
is dedicated to helping the people we serve improve their health,
well-being and security through a diversified portfolio of benefits and
services. Serving approximately 47 million people throughout the United
States and around the world, CIGNA’s operating subsidiaries offer a full
portfolio of medical, dental, behavioral health, pharmacy and vision
care benefits as well as group life, accident and disability insurance.
To learn more about CIGNA visit www.cigna.com.


U.S. Banking Consolidation to Continue

New research from TowerGroup finds that the weeks and months to come
will bring more mergers and restructuring for the U.S. banking industry,
even as the drive for greater regulation, transparency, and cooperation
continues to be debated. At the same time, financial institutions will
return to a focus on more traditional banking activities, as credit
terms become tighter, capital is withheld from the market, and economic
growth is further stifled. While most other developed banking markets
are consolidated into the hands of five or so top players, the U.S.
market has been more fragmented. TowerGroup says the consolidation cycle
will create another two to three national banks
alongside Bank of America and the new Chase. While many thousands of
community banks, credit unions, and mid-tier institutions will continue
to find success in their markets, the top-tier banking echelon will be
far smaller than it is today.