U.S. Spending Monitor Finally Flattens

The Discover “U.S. Spending Monitor” held steady in February as spending intentions flattened, while pessimism about the economy increased. After sharp spending cutbacks in December and then January, following the end of the holiday season, consumers steadied their spending, but were cautious about any increases. Even lower expected pressures on household expenses and the announced economic stimulus package did not encourage a rebound. Record pessimism about the economy and personal finances seems to be constraining consumers’ willingness to spend more. The Monitor was essentially unchanged in February, up just .3 to 86.4. Less than 19% of consumers rate the economy as good or excellent these days, a new Monitor low and a sharp drop from 32.5% in October. Outlook ahead also hit a new low with 70% expecting economic conditions to worsen.

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FSV Payment Systems to Offer PayVox

Houston-based prepaid card processor FSV Payment Systems says it will now offer Aliaswire “PayVox’s” phone and Web-based bill payment capabilities to its card programs and cardholders. “PayVox” was designed to meet the needs of prepaid cardholders, who are highly mobile and prefer the phone, CSR, and wireless channels in addition to Internet interfaces. “PayVox’s” voice recognition and wireless capabilities enable cardholders to provide bill payment instructions via personalized commands as simple as “Pay Comcast” or “Pay Verizon.” Aliaswire has a network of over 13 million end customers.

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E-Shoppers Prefer Debit & Credit Cards

A new study reveals that two-thirds of consumers prefer online stores that offer multiple payment mechanisms. Furthermore, 61% of online shoppers choose sites that offer both credit and debit card payment options. The study by JupiterResearch and PayPal study also revealed that consumers value payment security and payment choice more than rewards when making purchases online. About 55% of consumers think about payment methods they will use before they click on the checkout button; 48% of all online adult shoppers prefer the convenience of alternative payment methods; one third of online shoppers want to avoid filling out name, address and credit card details; and one in eight consumers thinks about how he or she will pay even before deciding what to buy.

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Boost Mobile Selects Vesta Corp

Vesta has been selected by Boost Mobile to manage phone- and Internet-based recharge transactions for the operator’s entire product line. The collaboration streamlines Boost’s current credit recharge model by eliminating the need for customers to register over the phone with a live agent. Additionally, new capabilities will be introduced that enable Boost customers to utilize debit cards and electronic checks as payment options, expanding customers’ options for replenishing via phone, WAP, or Internet. Boost will also introduce a feature allowing customers to receive a “gift” of “Re-Boost” dollars. This proprietary Vesta feature allows a subscriber’s friends and family to add funds to an account in real time.

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VeriFone V(x) Clears Givex Gift Cards

Givex has received certification of its gift card and loyalty programs for VeriFone’s “V(x)” Solutions. Merchants using the “V(x)” series of VeriFone payment systems are now able to process Givex gift card and loyalty transactions. In addition to processing real-time Givex gift card and loyalty transactions, merchants will benefit from a full range of support services, including 24/7 support, online reporting, program administration, card production and marketing, and more.

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B2B Markets Projected to Reap a 7% CAGR

A new report from Aite Group reports that the global wholesale payments market will grow from $18 billion in 2008 to $25 billion in 2012, a 6.8% CAGR. Aite says the most successful vendors in this market will be those whose solutions are flexible, configurable, and easily integrated with other external systems. The market will act as building blocks with standard connections, allowing disparate offerings to connect to each other and creating the ability to add more blocks at any time in order to meet the needs of the client.

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Travelex and MC Launch the Cash Passport Card

Travelex has teamed with MasterCard and West Suburban Bank to create the “Cash Passport MasterCard.” The new card is available in Euros and British Pounds. Because Cash Passport is denominated in foreign currency, the exchange rate is locked in at the time the card is loaded. The “Travelex Cash Passport” card will be available at local banks, travel agencies and Travelex retail locations in North America in the second quarter of 2008. “Cash Passport” will be available in Pound Sterling or Euros and the card is re-loadable up to 24 times.

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uTANGO VISA LifeStage Reward Card Is Introduced

uTANGO has enhanced its program by introducing the “uTANGO VISA Card.” The loyalty rewards program is designed specifically to help consumers leverage their existing daily spending to earn over $1 million in lifetime cash rewards. “uTANGO” pays members up to $800 per year in annual cash rewards and once married, uTANGO pays “LifeStage Cash Rewards” up to $10,000 at 10 years, $100,000 at 20 years and $1 Million at 30 years of plan participation.

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New Survey Shows Rewards More Valued Than Perks

A new JupiterResearch and PayPal study revealed that consumers value payment security and payment choice more than rewards when making purchases online. PayPal partnered with independent research firm JupiterResearch to develop a series of survey questions focused on how the U.S. population uses payment methods when shopping online. According to the research, when consumers are confronted with two merchants who offer the same product at the same price, the two most influential factors when choosing where to buy are payment security and payment choice. The study showed that security influences online shopping behavior more than typical merchant incentives like rewards and discounts. In fact, more than half of the survey respondents consider the security of their financial information as the deciding factor when they make purchases. An additional two thirds of shoppers feel more secure when they don’t have to enter financial information at all, even at merchant Web sites they trust.

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Diebold Spurs United Technologies’s Offer

Diebold has unanimously rejected United Technologies’ unsolicited proposal to acquire Diebold. Recently, the full Diebold board completed a detailed strategic review of the company and its prospects. At least three times in the last month, including this week, the board met to discuss UTC’s interest in a potential business combination with the company. Given that Diebold has not filed financial statements since the company’s 10-Q for the quarter ended March 31st and that the company is working to become current in its filings with the SEC, the board believes that now is not the right time — and that it would not be in the best interests of the corporation or its shareholders — to pursue discussions with UTC.

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FBMC and TSYS Team for a Health Benefits Card

TSYS Healthcare has announced its “Fringe Benefits Management Company,” the first third-party administrator to offer its subscribers the ability to pay from multiple healthcare tax-advantaged accounts, credit accounts and cash accounts through a single card. FBMC and TSYS Healthcare signed an agreement in September 2007 and the implementation to TSYS’ new healthcare system was successfully completed in only four months.

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GE Money to Issue the Mattress Firm Card

GE Money and Mattress Firm have inked a multi-year agreement to provide consumer financing services. The Mattress Firm credit card program, issued through GE Money’s Sales Finance unit, is available through Mattress Firm’s 450 stores in 37 markets across the United States. The no-annual-fee “Mattress Firm” credit program provides various financing options that include EasyPay, a low fixed-interest program that makes financing affordable for consumers.

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