Consumer Confidence Hits a Two-Year Low

U.S. consumer confidence hit its lowest level in more than two years. According to the “RBC CASH Index,” rising energy and food prices, falling house prices and tightening lending standards all contributed to the downward trend. The “Index” for November stands at 64, down more than 16 points from October’s 80.6 level. The “Index” is composed of four sub-indexes: “RBC Current Conditions Index”; “RBC Expectations Index”; “RBC Investment Index”; and, “RBC Jobs Index”. The “Expectations Index” dropped 30 points, the first time the index hit negative territory since September 2005. The “Current Conditions Index” dropped more than 10 points to 90.3 in November, compared to 101.1 last month. The “Jobs Index” slid to 111.8, down nearly 11 points from October’s 122.5 level due to consumers’ negative view of overall job security coupled with increased personal job loss experience. The “Investment Index” was down nine points to 83.4, compared to 92.5 in October.

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GEMALTO & J/SPEEDY

Gemalto has integrated JCB’s “J/Speedy” contactless payment with its NFC
SIM for mobile contactless payment, a fast-growing feature throughout the
payments industry. Implementing Open Mobile Alliance technology, the
project will allow users application and information access through a
mobile
phone browser. Gemalto provides software and devices for contactless
payment with projections for significant growth, has an annual revenue of
EUR1.7 billion and employs nearly 10,000 worldwide.

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Fargo HDPii Financial Card Printer Debuts

Fargo Electronics has introduced the “HDPii Financial Card Printer”, targeted toward banks, credit unions and retailers for on-site instant issuance of debit, credit and prepaid cards. Customers will not have to wait for days or weeks to receive their card, or be concerned that it may be lost or stolen in the mail. The HDPii can personalize all the static and variable data on a card, thereby allowing banks to dramatically reduce their SKUs of preprinted cards. By decreasing the inventory of preprinted debit, credit and prepaid cards on hand, the chances of theft are reduced. And, by instantly issuing the cards, the risk of cards lost or stolen in the mail is eliminated. Up to 40% of cards delivered by mail are never activated and never used. Fargo Electronics provides secure technologies for identity card issuance systems, including secure card printer/encoders, materials and software. Fargo provides physical, information and transaction security for a wide variety of applications and industries, including financial, retail, government, corporate, national IDs, drivers’ licenses, universities, schools and membership.

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DESJARDINS & SMART CARDS

Desjardins has announced that it has conducted its first smart card
transaction using cards equipped with microchip technology. According
to experts, with this development the company is demonstrating its ability
to provide customers better security protection against fraud with a POS,
PIN-validated solution. In addition to these developments, Desjardins is
participating in NFC trials to verify interactions among cards and devices
further exemplifying the company’s migration to microchip technology.
The company has assets of over $143 billion, employs 40,000 and
provides 5.8 million clients with financial products and services.

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Circuit City Renews Chase Card Contract

Consumer electronics retailer Circuit City has extended its credit card agreement with JPMorgan Chase for its Circuit City Rewards and Circuit City Rewards VISA cards. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.Circuit City Stores operates 652 Superstores and 13 other locations in the U.S., 800 retail stores and dealer outlets in Canada and operates Web sites at http://www.circuitcity.com, http://www.thesource.ca and http://www.firedog.com. JPMorgan Chase & Co. is a global financial services firm with assets of $1.5 trillion and operations in more than 50 countries with more than 154 million credit cards issued.

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ARM SECURECORE SC300

ARM has introduced its “Secure Core SC300” processor to provide smart
card and mobile phone SIM card transactions. The “SC300” processor is
capable of conducting transactions over multiple interfaces for contactless
applications and contributes to the growing industry trend of switching
from
8-bit to 32-bit processors. Specifically, the “SecurCore SC300” is designed
for very low power consumption for the 32-bit smart card migration enabling
hardware and software development collaboration. The foundation of the
processor is provided for by the ARM “Cortex-M3 processor” with its
low-cost requirements and memory size reduction. ARM designs and offers
microprocessors, data engines and graphic processors around the world.

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Transcard to Issue Prepaid Discover Cards

TN-based prepaid card provider, Transcard, has announced an agreement with Discover Financial Services to issue prepaid debit solutions. Transcard will offer a variety of Discover Network-branded prepaid card programs including payroll cards, general spend cards, fuel cards and student cards on the Discover Network and will continue to provide businesses the implementation and marketing to successfully transition into a prepaid card program. The program will provide cardholders 24/7 bilingual customer service and easy access to account information. Transcard processes over $960 million in electronic transactions annually and expect to reach $1.2 billion in 2007.

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PAX T& CONNECT ONE

PAX POS Solutions will be manufacturing its “P80 EFTPOS” terminal
with Connect One’s “iChip CO2128” for Internet and NFC connectivity.
Connect One’s chip will provide for PAX performance and security for its
WiFi connection along with SSL3 encryption and hardware-based security.
This development is in addition to an already existing contract between
Connect One and PAX for the PAX POS LAN models. The “CO2128”
chip supports LAN, WiFi and dial-up/wireless modems with secure TCP/IP
stack and an integrated Web server. PAX Computer Technology provides
card electronic payment systems and POS software while Connect One Ltd.
manufactures semiconductors and device servers for everyday devices.

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Food Lion to Accept American Express Cards

Grocer Food Lion and American Express have announced a card acceptance agreement at over 1,200 grocery stores throughout the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic United States. Food Lion LLC operates supermarkets, either directly or through affiliated entities, under the names of Food Lion, Bloom, Bottom Dollar Food, Harveys and Reid’s. Merchant Services is the merchant network of American Express.

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FEE FRENZY

In response to caps on default payments by the Office of Fair Trade,
Defaqto reports that credit card companies have been charging customers
in new found ways. The report, entitled “Credit Cards in the UK,” shows
that as a means of compensating for lost revenue to OFT caps, credit
card companies are literally inventing new fees, raising rates and
increasing
charges. These developments are in correlation to the June 2006 OFT caps
that resulted in the reduction of the average late-payment fee from
GBP22.21
to GBP11.81, average over the limit fee from GBP22.21 to GBP11.73 and
an average returned payment fee of GBP20.10 to GBP11.39. Defaqto
provides information on over 30,000 products from more than 1,000 service
providers and is used by over 200 financial organizations.

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Chase Paymentech Partners to Offer A-Claim

Chase Paymentech and TX-based payment processor Preferred Health Technology have launched the”A-Claim” healthcare payment solution. “A-Claim” combines Chase Paymentech’s payment functionality and enhanced payment processes to provide physicians with reduced accounts receivable, shorter collection cycles and decreased risk of non-payment. A-Claim achieves the full-cycle automation of information and payment flows, from the submission of claims to the receipt of payments and reconciliation. Patients benefit by being able to use their credit or debit card, along with their health insurance information, to automatically pay their portion of the bill. Physicians typically collect only about 50 percent of outstanding patient balance, resulting in almost $60 billion in bad debt annually. Chase Paymentech Solutions is a global payments firm and merchant acquirer. Preferred Health Technology is a provider of healthcare insurance application systems.

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OLYMPIC RFID TICKETS

ASK TongFong has announced it will be providing the 12.2 million
contactless inlays needed for the XXIX Olympics’ RFID tickets. The tickets
eliminate counterfeiting with a silver ink printed antenna and flip chip
die attach. Furthermore, the tickets are made using clean, renewable
energy at a recycling-implementing processing plant. This, and all ASK
TongFang products, are made using “green” raw material including recyclable
paper and the aforementioned silver ink. The manufacturing process also
implements automated state-of-the-art production equipment allowing for the
production of 200 million units per year of paper based tickets, inlays
and labels.

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