CREDIT CONSUMER TRENDS

Halifax Credit Card research on Valentines 2007 spending reveals the average man spent GBP44 on flowers and GBP82 on dining.
Additional research also shows the average cost of an anniversary is
between GBP40 and GBP60 while 20% spend over GBP100, 32%
spend on dining, 19% on flowers and 20% on jewelery for their loved
ones. Moreover, when “popping the question”, 69% of men spend
between half a month and a month’s salary on an engagement ring and
9% spend more than this proportion. In conjunction with this research,
Halifax is marketing its “Plus Credit Card”, offering 0% on balance
transfers for the first 13 months and 0% on purchases for the
introductory 6 months.

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New Mexico to Offer OPC e-Payment Options

The New Mexico Taxation and Revenue Department has signed a deal with Official Payments Corp for electronic payment services. New Mexico constituents can pay their personal income taxes, motor vehicle payments, weight distance permit payments, and Combined Reporting System (CRS) payments electronically through Official Payments. Official Payments charges a convenience fee for some services. Citizens and businesses using credit or debit cards with bonus rewards programs may, depending on their card’s program, earn reward points, frequent flyer miles or cash back for paying their taxes and fees. New Mexico’s Taxation and Revenue Department processes approximately $7 billion annually in revenue.

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CREDIT CARD USAGE

According to The Bank of Thailand, credit card and consumer loans
were reflective of economic conditions and consumer confidence toward
the end of 2007, having noticeably slowed. Throughout Thailand, credit
cards totaled 12,003,369 in 4Q07, up 145,158 in 3Q07, while loan
volumes totaled Bt179.28 billion, up Bt5.38 billion over the same period.
Moreover, credit card spending for December ’07 totaled Bt79.76 billion,
up Bt4.41 billion from 3Q07.

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Consumer Spending Enters the Red Zone

Yet another survey indicates that consumption has entered the “Red Zone.” The latest Deloitte Research “Leading Index” plummeted to a new low in December. Four components — tax burden, initial unemployment claims, real wages and real home prices — comprise the index which fell to 1.78% from last month’s index of 2.55%. Deloitte Research said that housing prices fell by 9% on a year-on-year basis but there was a substantial increase in mortgage loan applications. However, with a tight credit market, it is not clear yet if a revival in housing demand is underway. There was no substantial reduction in inventory of new houses which would take 9.6 months to unwind at the current sales pace.

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Ingenico-Hypercom Offer Bites the Dust

After being rebuffed yesterday by Hypercom over its proposed merger, Ingenico said that it simply does not see any way to proceed. Ingenico noted that it learned two days ago that under the terms of Hypercom’s agreement with Thales, they were not free to enter into a transaction with Ingenico that does not include the Thales assets. The Company says it was disappointed that it did not have a genuine opportunity to move forward with the offer it put before the Hypercom board and shareholders. Last week Ingenico offered to buy Hypercom for $332 million, a 52% premium over last week’s share price, as well as an approximate 83% premium over Hypercom’s current enterprise value. (CF Library 2/11/08)

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TSYS and Telrock to Provide SMS Solutions

TSYS and UK-based Telrock are planning to develop a suite of integrated mobile solutions for TSYS’ North American clients.The solutions will include a suite of SMS-based mobile services, including fraud alerting, account notifications, customer inquiries and payments. Telrock specializes in the design, development and integration of solutions using mobile technology for payments, money transfers and other mobile-based transaction services such as fraud alerts and account information requests.

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Wal-Mart MoneyCenters Extends MoneyGram

Thomas Lee Partners and Goldman, Sachs are making a $700 million+ investment into MoneyGram International. The Company also entered into an agreement with affiliates of Goldman Sachs to provide debt financing of up to $500 million, with additional $200 million to follow. MoneyGRam also announced a multi-year extension through January 2013 of its financial services agreement with Wal-Mart. MoneyGram provides the money transfer, urgent bill payment and money order services for customers in more than 3,500 Wal-Mart stores, including Wal-Mart MoneyCenters. MoneyGram has more than 143,000 agents worldwide. In December, Euronet Worldwide propositioned MoneyGram with an offer of a tax-free, all-stock transaction acquisition valued at $1.65 billion. (CF Library 2/13/07)

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MICROREAD

NSIDE Contactless’ “MicroRead” mobile payment solution has been
recognized and awarded by the GSM Association as having the “Most
Innovative Device-Centric Technology” at the Annual Mobile Innovation
Global Awards of 2008, which took place on February 12, 2008.
“MicroRead” has been adopted by handset manufacturers to enable
contactless payments using mobile phones around the world, is self-
powered with a battery-off mode and is operative in the Company’s
“Pay-Buy-Mobile” initiative. This initiative provides a single approach to
enable mobile operators to accelerate deployment of applications. The
GSM Association global trade association represents 700 mobile phone
operators across 218 countries, which serve over 2.5 billion users, while
INSIDE Contactless provides NFC, contactless payments and access
control with the implementation of its more than 55 patents and deployment
of more than 35 million MicroPass intelligent payment platforms.

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ConveniaLoad Offers EDebitPay Loading Options

EDebitPay and ConveniaLoad have teamed to give EDebitPay prepaid cardholders more than 10,000 bank loading locations including Wells Fargo, Bank One, U.S. Bank and Wachovia. According to Forbes.com, approximately $117 billion in transactions were anticipated in 2007 using prepaid plastic, a number that could soar to $257 billion by the end of 2009. EDebitPay is a performance-based marketing company in the online interactive marketing industry. ConveniaLoad is managed by Western Financial, which provides financial services including ATMs, merchant processing solutions, check cashing services and Stored Value Card technology.

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U.S. Merchant Systems Launches AutoTranz

CA-based U.S. Merchant Systems has launched AutoTranz, a new division of the company developed exclusively to assist automobile dealerships with their payment processing needs. AutoTranz offers their automotive dealership customers processing for credit and debit transactions at true VISA, MasterCard and Discover costs, separated accordingly so that the markup is clearly delineated. A Customized Check Guarantee system is provided for each individual dealership, including Pick Payment and Hold Check programs, for customers looking to manage their cash flow, specialists to assist auto dealerships in training and follow-up to insure the effectiveness of this innovative program. AutoTranz is also working with automobile dealerships on creating and providing “Loyalty Cards” for car browsers to convert them to customers.

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INGENICO & HYPERCOM

Ingenico’s offer to buy Hypercom is being described as a “hostile overture.” Ingenico recently filed a lawsuit against Francisco Partners, which is financing Hypercom’s acquisition of Thales’ e-Transactions business. Hypercom also says that Ingenico’s newest ploy is to make private negotiations public. Hypercom says the potential harm to its shareholders of failing to pursue the acquisition of the e-Transactions business was significant. This week, Thales informed Hypercom it may abort the transaction, retain Hypercom’s $10 million deposit and seek other remedies if it did not sign the “Stock Purchase Agreement.”. Hypercom’s share price rose sharply yesterday on the merger proposal. Ingenico yesterday offered to buy Hypercom for $332 million, a 52% premium over last week’s share price, as well as an approximate 83% premium over Hypercom’s current enterprise value. (CF Library 2/11/08)

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