CardFlash Looks Back to January 2007

Here are the top CardFlash stories for January 2007: The security breach at TJX Companies may affect more than 40 million signature-based general purpose credit and debit cardholders worldwide. The U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs opens a hearing to explore the business practices of the U.S. credit card industry. Discover launches its first reloadable prepaid card to be offered through Green Dot’s national retail network. MasterCard completes its new Board of Directors. Citigroup signe a deal to acquire Egg Banking from Prudential for $1.13 billion. VISA USA acquires the “What’s My Score” program which helps educate college students in financial matters. Chase announces it will stop using the two-cycle method of calculating finance charges. NCR says it intends to separate into two independent publicly traded companies by spinning-off the company’s Teradata Data Warehousing business to NCR shareholders. AT&T and Citigroup sign a long-term extension for the “AT&T Universal Card” programs. Metavante acquires TN-based Valutec Card Solutions a provider of closed-loop, in-store gift and loyalty card solutions to small and medium-sized businesses. First Data, Microsoft and HP combine forces to develop management software programs and retail-ready computer hardware in a small business point of sale solution. Hypercom names Philippe Tartavull as President.

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Payment Card Industry Facing a Rocky 2008

If the latest indices and barometers are accurate then the payment card industry is facing a rocky road this year. The latest surveys reveal that consumers, business owners and credit managers are giving thumbs down to the current economic outlook. The seasonally adjusted “Credit Manager’s Index” fell for the fourth consecutive month in December. The “Discover Small Business Watch” index slipped in December for the fifth consecutive month, falling to its lowest point in 2007. The Conference Board’s leading index decreased sharply for the second consecutive month, and has been down in four of the last six months. The composite “RBC CASH Index” for December continued to hover at record lows. Additionally, the holiday spirit boosted retail sales by a measly 3%, barely offsetting inflation. As a result, payment card volume could see single-digit growth this year while credit losses could return to pre-bankruptcy reform levels. (CF Library 12/7/07; 12/21/07; 1/2/08)

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DOLLAR MONEY SHOPS

The Dollar Financial Co has acquired 7 new stores for $3.5 million,
bringing the total number of “Money Shop” stores to 222 across the
UK and 1,445 around the world. During the past year, 34 branches have
been opened to represent a 17% increase since December 31, 2006 which
have contributed to the 3Q/07 UK revenue of $30.4 million. Furthermore,
for the completion of this acquisition, funds from the USD 200 million
senior
convertible note offering, completed over the summer of 2007, were used.
Dollar Financial provides under-banked consumers with check cashing,
short-term consumer loans, Western Union money order and money transfer
products, re-loadable debit cards, electronic tax filing, bill payment
services,
and legal document processing services through 1,080 company-operated
financial services stores and 365 franchised locations around the world.

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OPTEVA ATMS

Diebold has made arrangements to sell over 6,000 of its secure “Opteva”
ATMs to banks across China. Among the banks to purchase these
ATMs include the Bank of China, Agricultural Bank of China, Postal
Savings Bank of China, Industrial and Commercial Bank of
China and China Construction Bank. Among the most popular “Opteva”
ATM models is its “bulk cash recycle machine” (BCRM) because of such
features that allow for the validation of currency, denomination of bills,
currency counting, reception of envelope- free cash deposits and the
withdrawal of up to 100 bills at once. Diebold employs over 15,000, is
represented in 90 countries around the world and has revenue of $2.9
billion in 2006.

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99BILL & BOKEE

To provide its blog users with online payment, Bokee has signed
agreements with 99Bill to allow consumer payment acceptance in
any form, including credit and debit cards. Additionally, Bokee’s
customer online payment needs will be afforded the use of various
99Bill products and merchant tools under the terms of the agreement.
Bokee.com, a Chinese online blog service provider, provides web
services for over 100 million Internet users and is now among such
corporations as NetEase, Baidu, Sohu, China.com and TOM Online,
which also utilize the 99Bill Internet payment solutions and tools.

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Personix Integrates Precision Direct & FDS

Fiserv’s communication unit Personix has combined Precision Direct print, mail and fulfillment business unit and the Fiserv DirectSource (FDS) Laser Services and Coupon operation and will operate in Seattle.The Personix Seattle facility will be led locally by Jerry Rabenberg, VP of Technology, Fiserv DirectSource. Rabenberg has been with Fiserv since 2000, serving primarily in technology and operations management positions. Personix provides laser printing, mailing and electronic delivery solutions as well as, card manufacturing, personalization and mailing services to more than 9,000 clients worldwide.

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CAP ONE ID ALERT

For its credit card customers, Capital One has introduced the “Identity
Alert” service. The new service will provide customers with email alerts
of any changes to their credit file free-of-charge, thus, protecting
against
fraud and identity theft. Following the online registration required of the
free service, Capital One customers are provided 2 free credit reports
for each year they are subscribed to the service. This new product has
been introduced in response to research showing that 42 million adults in
the UK alone are unsure of what to do in the event of ID theft and is being
introduced in addition to existing Capital One security measures, such as
identity theft advisement and a resolution program for ID theft victims.

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SMARTCARD FORECAST

Oberthur Card Systems is predicting that for 2008 the popularity of
smart cards in the United States will be explosive. First implemented in
France during the early-1980’s, then throughout the rest of Europe
by the end of the 20th century, experts have been predicting that
acquirers in the United States would be soon to follow. Based on current
figures, projections include nearly 75 million American customers will be
using smart card solutions before 2009 and 128 million by 2010. Oberthur
Card provides card-based solutions, software and smart card applications,
had sales of EUR524 million in 2006, with payments and services accounting
for 47% of revenues and mobile communications accounting for 37% of the
revenue.

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CREDIT INS PULLBACK

Based on current market trends, and HDFC bank’s withdrawal of the
practice, free insurance for credit card holders is projected to soon be
a thing of the past. HDFC no longer offers its cardholders accident,
health or railroad insurance and is among many issuers whom perceive
‘free-for-life’, points and rewards programs as more attractive to
consumers. To provide its customers with such benefits, card issuers are
feeling the pinch and are forced to surrender the insurance program
offerings. Additionally, with the elimination of these programs comes the
absence of hassles and claim processing.

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Gift Cards to Lift Lackluster Sales

New research shows that post-holiday gift card redemptions will likely boost retail sales to achieve a 3% to 3.5% annual increase. Standard & Poor’s Equity Research Services says its surveys found that nearly four out of five expect to spend the same or more on cards as they did in 2006, when gift cards were 32% of their total holiday spending. S&P noted that retailers are anticipating that 25% or more of gift card redemptions will take place in the week following Christmas, with more than two-thirds of cards redeemed by the end of January. Additionally, while the number of cards given may not have risen, the overall value is expected to increase this season.

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PAYMENT MYTHS

Based on its payment trend research, APACS has published a report to
uncover payment untruths entitled “Payment Myths”. “Payment Myths”
provides consumers with information regarding payment options available,
advice on financial management for all payment methods, reflects statistics
on the way cash is used and fraud susceptibility across the UK. APACS
provides banks and card issuers a medium with which to manage money
movement across the UK.

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