Merchant Risk Council Adds SSL EV

The Merchant Risk Council has incorporated “Trustwave’s Extended Validation SSL Certificate” to the Merchant Risk Council’s Web site. SSL is used to protect confidential information, such as credit card numbers or passwords, sent between Web users and Web sites. SSL, which stands for Secure Sockets Layer, Extended Validation (EV) certificates provide an additional layer of protection through a strictly defined issuance process to ensure that the certificate holding entity is validated as the entity they claim to be and were developed to combat online scams such as phishing and include unique representations within browsers to demonstrate security to consumers. As part of the MRC’s best practices, the group is collaborating with Trustwave and has implemented the EV SSL Certificate on the MRC Web site. The MRC recommends all merchants use EV SSL if their Web site transfers any financial or personal data, such as passwords, credit card numbers, social security numbers, or birth dates. Trustwave is a global provider of information security and compliance management solutions to businesses and the public sector. The Merchant Risk Council is the leading trade association for merchants, vendors, and e-commerce risk management professionals.

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Gift Card Exchange Service Adds New Features

An online discount gift card exchange announced that all of its transactions are guaranteed with a money back guarantee. Fresno, CA-based Plastic Jungle says any person who receives a card that is invalid or less than the amount indicated will be reimbursed. The new policy takes effect immediately and applies to all gift cards posted on its Web site. The Company also unveiled an array of new features for buying, selling, trading and managing unused gift cards. PlasticVault acts as a gift card manager where users enter their entire gift card portfolio, whether or not they plan to use them, sell them or trade them. The secure site can help people replace their gift cards in case they are ever lost, stolen or damaged, plus it tracks the account balances and transactions for all active gift cards registered for sale or trade on Plastic Jungle. Other new features include “GiftGuru,” a tool that uses data collected from the site along with other pertinent information including age, gender and relationship to help users identify the right gift card to give to others. “Plastic Jungle” also created a wish list in which users are notified when a desired card becomes available. Notifications for the wish list as well as all other transactions on Plastic Jungle can now be delivered via text messages. The Company is also planning to provide the ability for consumers to mobilize their gift cards, enabling them to check gift card balances.

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STANDARD CHARTERED & FDC

Standard Chartered and First Data Co have announced the establishment
of their joint project, “Merchant Solutions”. “Merchant Solutions” has been
introduced to provide Standard Chartered Bank’s Asian merchant clients
with acquiring services, will be 56% held by First Data, 44% by
Standard Chartered and will be led by the newly appointed CEO and
Managing Director, Sean Hesh. The new acquiring solution provides
merchant clients with First Data products and services for card acquiring,
e-commerce, contactless and prepaid card acceptance. The 2 companies
plan to eventually expand the “Merchant Solutions” service to merchants in
Asia and the Middle East. First Data operates in 38 countries, serves over
5 million merchants and 1,900 card issuers while Standard Chartered
employs over 60,000 in more than 1,400 branches throughout more than
50 countries.

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Charter Comm Signs an ADS Epsilon Deal

Alliance Data Systems’ Epsilon business has signed a multi-year agreement with Charter Communications to provide loyalty marketing and database services. Epsilon will provide analytics, permission-based email communications, and strategic consulting in support of the company’s “Live It with Charter” customer loyalty program, which will be rolled out nationwide over the next year. The program employs proprietary database services including Epsilon’s loyalty platform and email communications platform, to recruit members, track membership points, and communicate with participating customers. Charter Communications serves more than 5.6 million customers in 29 states, providing cable television, high-speed Internet access, and telephone service as well as business communications services.

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CREDIT CARD CHECKS

Research conducted by uSwitch.com has found that 4.1 million consumer
credit card checks were used during the year of 2006 with an average
check value of GBP976. Additional findings show that each customer was
charged 2.81% handling fee per check, credit cards made GBP112.4
million for the year in handling fees and, according to APACS, 326 million
credit card checks were issued to customers through the year, 96% of
which were not requested. Furthermore, 6% of cardholders surveyed are
unaware that there is a charge for using these checks and 9% of those
surveyed receive checks monthly. uSwitch.com provides impartial
comparisons to help consumers compare prices on a variety of services
from utilities to banking services.

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Capital One Backs Off its NetSpend Merger

Capital One and prepaid card specialist NetSpend confirmed yesterday they have pulled the plug on their proposed merger. However, the companies signed a “LOI” to expand their existing strategic relationship. Cap One intends to acquire a minority interest in NetSpend along with an option to purchase additional shares of the company. In addition, the parties expect that a Cap One representative will join the NetSpend Board of Directors. The Companies will also jointly pursue the distribution of prepaid card products through a variety of mainstream retail channels. In August Cap One proposed to acquire NetSpend for $700 million in cash. NetSpend has more than 1.5 million active customers nationwide and a retail network that has 15,000 locations where cards can be purchased and 50,000 locations where funds can be loaded. (CF Library 8/8/07)

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DEBT COLLECTION FORECAST

The Credit Services Association (CSA) has announced its 2008 projections
for debt collection to hit 24.3 billion by the end of the year. Furthermore,
debt collection is expected to increase by over 20% during the next 4 years
thanks to a credit squeeze, with lenders making it increasingly difficult to
extend credit. The steady increase in debt collection throughout the UK is
consistent with the predictions citing the steady increase since September
2000, with collections of GBP5.2 billion, GBP8.6 billion in September of
2003 and GBP21 billion in September of 2006. Additionally, with LIBOR
on the rise and UK lenders having yet to announce losses, the situation is
expected only to worsen.

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Chase to Stop Linking APRs to Credit Scores

Chase announced it is expanding its “Clear & Simple” pricing program with the elimination of its practice of increasing interest rates for individual cardholders when their credit-bureau scores decline. However, the change will not be effective until March 1st and it is not retroactive. The practice of increasing rates based on credit-bureau information is largely confined to the nation’s top ten issuers. In January Chase announced it will switch to the average daily balance method of calculating finance charges on all of its cards, eliminating the two-cycle method of calculating interest. In March, Chase announced the “Clear & Simple” initiative which included consumer management tools; financial literacy and education; and clearer disclosure of terms and conditions. The tools include automatic payments, free alerts, paperless statements, and payment calculators. (CF Library 1/22/07; 3/6/07)

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RETALIX 3Q/07

Ra’anana-based POS specialist, Retalix, reported third quarter revenues of $58.1 million, a 16% year-over-year increase. Net income was $3.1 million for the quarter, compared to a net loss of $1.1 million in the third quarter of last year. The Company says the higher product revenues were driven by a number of significant new contracts. In the U.S., Love’s Travel Centers contracted with Retalix to provide an integrated POS and headquarters system to serve more than 200 retail and fuel sites. Save Mart Supermarkets, a tier-1 grocery chain based in California, licensed multiple components of Retalix’s supply chain management application suite for implementation in their three distribution centers. Customer loyalty and promotions system was selected by several retailers, including Big Y, as it expanded the relationship to include the “Loyalty” system. In the distribution segment, Odom, a distributor of beverages in the Pacific Northwest, signed a deal to install the “Retalix Power Enterprise” suite. In Europe, Retalix’s POS solution has been selected by a major grocery retail chain in the Baltic states. For complete details on Retalix’s latest results visit CardData (www.carddata.com).

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Xirrus Offers Wi-Fi PCI White Paper

Wi-FI provider Xirrus has announced its new tool and whitepaper explaining the PCI Data Security Standard for companies that use Wi-Fi and handle payment card information. Xirrus is also releasing a new feature that automatically audits the Xirrus wireless network to ensure continued compliance to the PCI standard and automatically generates alerts on any non-complying elements. Xirrus manufactures the patented “Wi-Fi Array” platform that integrates up to 16 radios with an onboard Gigabit Switch, Wi-Fi Controller, Firewall, and dedicated Wi-Fi Threat Sensor into a single device.

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BARCLAYS GIFT CARD

Barclays has introduced its “Gift Card” as a flexible, gift-giving option which can be loaded for any amount between GBP10 and GBP300.
The card can be customized with any of 6 designs, depending on the
occasion, and is personalized with the recipient’s name. Furthermore,
it is accepted wherever VISA is accepted and can easily be canceled
if lost or stolen. Experts predict that the card will be a popular item for the upcoming holiday season.

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Target Credit Card Outstandings Jump 24%

Target reported that its pre-tax credit card profits for the quarter ending November 3rd increased 17% over the year-ago quarter. Credit card outstandings for the quarter increased 24% year-on-year, topping $7.65 billion. Target says the the surge in outstandings was partially driven by the conversion of proprietary “Target Cards” to higher-limit “Target VISA” cards for a group of higher credit-quality “Target Card” cardholders. Target’s third calendar quarter pre-tax credit card profits were $157 million, compared to $163 million in the prior quarter and $134 million one-year ago. Target reported that its total credit card receivables, which include its VISA and “Guest” cards, were $7.652 billion as of November 3rd, compared to $6.906 billion for 2Q/07 and $6.148 billion one-year ago. Delinquency (60 days+) for 3Q/07 increased to 3.8%, compared to 3.5% in the previous quarter and 3.9% one-year ago. Charge-offs, as a percentage of period-end receivables, declined to 7.0% for 3Q/07, compared to 7.4% in the prior quarter and 8.4% one-year ago. Target’s credit card unit had net revenues of $383 million in 3Q/07, a 20% increase over 3Q/06. During the third quarter Target announced it began reviewing potential ownership alternatives for its credit card business. The Company says the review should be completed by year’s end. Target says it is continuing to evaluate whether the benefits of a potential transaction outweigh its expected dilutive impact on earnings per share. For complete details on Target’s latest performance, visit CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]).

TARGET CARD LOAN HISTORICAL
3Q/06: $6.148 billion
4Q/06: $6.711 billion
1Q/07: $6.510 billion
2Q/07: $6.906 billion
3Q/07: $7.652 billion
Source: CardData (www.carddata.com)

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

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