RadioShack Offers the Vision Silver Prepaid MC

With most taxpayers receiving stimulus checks ranging from $600 to $1,200, consumers using at least $50 of the funds from their IRS refund checks of up to $2,500 for payment at 4,500 RadioShack store locations between May 4 and July 12, 2008 will be offered a 10% discount . Any unused remainder of the refund will be distributed on a “Vision Silver” Prepaid MasterCard. The “Vision Silver” Prepaid MasterCard can then be used at any POS/ATM MasterCard is accepted with applicable charges, RadioShack will not assess a card activation fee upon activation, will impose no product exclusions and gives the card user the option to keep the card as a permanent MasterCard. Rules for RadioShack’s federal stimulus and IRS refund offer will be available in participating stores starting May 4.

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LendingTools.com to Support New NACHA ACH Rules

Applications service provider LendingTools.com will now support NACHA’s International ACH Transaction rules amendment to become effective in March of 2009. The rules change will allow ACH participants to easily identify international payments using the new IAT Standard Entry Class code. The amendment will also require IAT transactions to include addenda information that complies with the Bank Secrecy Act’s “Travel Rule” and programs administered by the Office of Foreign Assets Control. LendingTools.com receives information directly from NACHA’s ACH Rules publications for rule and standard entry class code changes. All changes to services affected by NACHA rules are overseen by LendingTools.com’s Accredited ACH Professionals, the regulatory and procedural compliance officer, and a management review committee. LendingTools.com, Inc. specializes in the design and delivery of web-based applications for the financial services industry and delivers them through correspondent processing organizations.

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Small Biz Economic Confidence Continues to Slide

During the month of April, 55% of small business owners can confidently say the U.S. economy is “poor”, up 2% from the month prior, while 16% feel the economy is strong. Additionally, 44% have experienced cash flow issues over the last 90 days, 27% of owners plan to increase spending on business development in April, 44% plan to decrease spending and 75% have seen effects on profitability, of which 86% have seen adverse effects. Among consumers, 58% notice businesses charge more when gas prices are up, 39% are willing to pay higher prices to small business that use “green” energy practices and 63% doubt the economy will improve in the next six months. The Discover “Small Business Watch: Small Business Economic Confidence” monthly index measures the relative economic confidence of 22 million U.S. small business owners who employ less than five employees and collectively produce over a trillion dollars in annual receipts.

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BEST CARDS

Premier Card Solutions has been recognized with the ICMA “Elan Awards” for advancements and achievements in plastic card design. These recognitions include “Best Gift Card Design” for its “Spiderman” gift card, which was designed for Blockbuster, as a finalist in the Best “Free Form” Card with “Tag and Ribbon” designed for Target and as a finalist for “Best Gift Card Design” with the “Gator Gift Card”, also designed for Target. Over the past 3 years, Premier Card Solutions has received 8 awards at the ICMA Elan Awards.

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AmEx U.S. Card Profits Sink 19% Y/Y

American Express reported that its U.S. Card Services division posted a first quarter net income of $523 million, compared to $644 million for 1Q/07 due to higher loan loss provisions that rose 52% year-on-year. U.S. gross dollar volume rose 9% and the AmEx cardbase expanded by 7% during the first quarter, compared to the quarter one year-ago. Total net revenues for the first quarter increased 11% to $3.7 billion. Total U.S. card loans rose 15% to $38.1 billion. Delinquency on U.S. card loans (30+ days) rose to 4.1% versus 3.5% in the prior quarter and 2.9% for 1Q/07. Charge-offs on total U.S. card loans rose to 5.5%, compared to 4.3% for 4Q/07 and 3.7% for 1Q/07. Card volume in the U.S. hit $114.6 billion, up 9% from the year-ago quarter. The total number of domestic cards-in-force grew to 52.9 million cards, compared to 49.3 million for 1Q/07. For complete details on American Express’ first quarter results, visit CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]).

American Express U.S. Card Portfolio Snapshot
1Q/08 4Q/07 3Q/07 2Q/07 1Q/07
Volume $114.6B 123.0 115.2 115.7 105.4
Cards 52.9MM 52.3 51.7 50.5 49.3
Source: CardData (www.carddata.com)

[1]: http://www.carddata.com

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WINASUGO & UKASH

WinAsUGo Mobile Casino has partnered with Ukash to distribute branded
prepaid card vouchers. The new prepaid vouchers can be purchased with
values of any amount between GBP5 and GBP499 and provide a secure,
readily available alternative to using a credit card to provide real
money with which users can gamble. WinAsUGo UK mobile casino provides
users with 9 different mobile casino games which include Mobile Slots,
Blackjack, Roulette, HiLo, Poker, Baccarat, Lottery and Sports betting
while Ukash e-commerce cash payment allows online purchases with cash
focal on reducing card and ID fraud.

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IDENTITA OTP & TETRA PLUS

Identita has announced the receipt of its most recent order of 4 million
unit display card, OTP (One Time Pass) devices. The display cards will
be distributed through the organization’s Asian distributor, Tetra Plus,
to provide its security solution on RFID tags, advanced smart cards,
biometric access control cards, electronic passports, loyalty cards and
OTP display cards across the authentication market. Operating on its
“EchoSystem” platform, Identita identity management implements protocols
to counter phishing, man-in-the-middle and man-in-the-browser attacks
with PKI and digital certificates.

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OCC Looks Closer at Processor Monitoring

The OCC has issued an advisory regarding the relationships between banks and processors in which the processor uses its bank relationship to process payments for merchant clients. By implementing the appropriate controls over processors and their merchant clients, the OCC says a bank should be able to identify those processors that process for fraudulent telemarketers or other unscrupulous merchants and to ensure that the bank is not facilitating these transactions. In the event a bank identifies fraudulent or other improper activity with a processor or a specific merchant client of the processor, the bank should take immediate steps to address the problem, including filing a Suspicious Activity Report when appropriate, terminating the bank’s relationship with the processor, or requiring the processor to cease processing for that specific merchant.

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FTC Nails a Canadian Bogus Biller

The FTC has brought complaints against defendants for operating under bogus business names, charging the defendants with violating Section 5 of the FTC Act by misleading consumers into falsely believing they owed money for advertising and other products/services. In doing so, the accused included advertisements that U.S. businesses had placed in legitimate publications on their own bogus invoices to deceive consumers into paying bills, ranging anywhere from to a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars, and charged organizations for supplies/services that had never been ordered/ received. Emma G. Wanjiku, among the accused, has been given $4 million judgment, and has been cited with injunctive to prohibit her from misrepresenting that consumers have a preexisting business relationship with her, prohibit her collecting on any invoices, prohibit her from making money by selling her customer lists and to cooperate with the FTC in its ongoing case against her ex-husband, Michael Robert Petreikis.

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PULSE Debit Study Coming Next Week8

ATM network PULSE will be releasing its “2008 PULSE Debit Issuer Study” next week. The study includes an in-depth look at debit issuer performance and debit card fraud trends, including continued double-digit debit transaction growth in 2007, coupled with slight increases in debit card penetration and activation rates; 50% better performance by best-in-class issuers in key metrics and an increase in debit card fraud loss rates, as well as shifts in points of compromise.

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Charge-Offs & Lower Spending Impact ROA

Bank credit card loss and less consumer spending resulting from the credit crunch will be responsible for a return on asset loss down 15% from the year prior during 2008, placing pressure on profitability. The recession of 1990 demonstrated card issuers focused efforts on current customers to keep the respective divisions afloat, as is the projected reaction to the current situation, given ROA from credit cards are a fundamental source of revenue for card-issuing organizations. The research report from MA-based TowerGroup, titled “Credit Crisis: What Card Issuers Can Learn from Previous Economic Downturns,” identifies effective options for generating profit despite the rigidity of the economy. TowerGroup says that by focusing their business strategies on customer retention and expansion rather than acquisition, credit card issuers can still tap profit opportunities this year.

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