CardFlash Looks Back to March 2007

Here are the top CardFlash stories for March 2007: Several seasoned industry veterans with the financial backing of AOL’s founder announce plans to introduce the “GratisCard,” a PIN-based anonymous payment card with only a bar code and an account number encoded on its mag stripe. MasterCard inks a development agreement with France-based ASK to create paper-based contactless payment solutions utilizing “PayPass” for deployment in transit and other payment environments. VISA USA signs an agreement with 7-Eleven to introduce the “ReadyLink” prepaid load network to its U.S. stores. Citi acquires prepaid specialist Ecount. SunTrust Banks becomes the first issuer in the U.S. to incorporate “VISA Contactless” payment technology across its entire consumer credit card portfolio. Several national consumer groups partner to form Americans for Fairness in Lending and will promote the release of the documentary and book “Maxed Out.” Kmart settles FTC charges that it engaged in deceptive practices in advertising and selling its gift card. Citi announces it is eliminating its “universal default” and the “any time for any reason” increases to the rates and fees of its customers’ credit card accounts. A Senate subcommittee opens its first hearing on credit card practices, led by Democratic Senator Carl Levin. VISA and game maker Hasbro have signed a deal to add VISA cards to the latest version of “THE GAME OF LIFE.” First Data and China UnionPay sign an alliance to expand the acceptance of “CUP” cards. Citibank agrees to sell the “American Express Gift Card” in more than 980 of its Financial Centers nationwide. First Data and Wells Fargo have reached an agreement for FDC to acquire Well’s Instant Cash Services business.

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ID Insight Hires a New CFO

MN-based analytics-based identity risk and fraud solutions provider ID Insight has hired Lee Runzheimer, previously with Osmonics, as its new CFO. Runzheimer has served as CFO of Osmonics, Inc., a $200-million manufacturer of industrial water purification equipment which was subsequently acquired by GE, as well as CFO of Hitchcock Industries, Inc., a $40-million designer and manufacturer of precision components for the aerospace industry. He is also a founder and director of Maximum Solutions, Inc., a software company that has grown rapidly to 800 installed user systems. Runzheimer earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Wisconsin and received an MBA in International Business from Harvard Business School.

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L2C Beefs-Up Weak Credit Marketing

MN-based analytics-based identity risk and fraud solutions provider ID Insight has hired Lee Runzheimer, previously with Osmonics, as its new CFO. Runzheimer has served as CFO of Osmonics, Inc., a $200-million manufacturer of industrial water purification equipment which was subsequently acquired by GE, as well as CFO of Hitchcock Industries, Inc., a $40-million designer and manufacturer of precision components for the aerospace industry. He is also a founder and director of Maximum Solutions, Inc., a software company that has grown rapidly to 800 installed user systems. Runzheimer earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Wisconsin and received an MBA in International Business from Harvard Business School.

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NCR Unveils FastLane Order and Pay

NCR has unveiled “FastLane Order and Pay” in the U.S. following a successful deployment in Europe. NCR FastLane Order and Pay is designed to address a variety of self-service opportunities within a store. After entering their choices, consumers can use NCR FastLane Order and Pay to pay with cash, debit card or credit card and receive a receipt that they hand to a store associate before picking up their purchase. Shoppers can also use their store loyalty card to earn points or take advantage of special offers. In addition, retailers can offer shoppers the option to pay at the front of the store, using either self-checkout or assisted-service checkout.

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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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