VISA & WELCOME

In lower-income areas across the United Kingdom, NatWest Bank and
the Royal Bank of Scotland Group have installed more than 460 fee-free
ATMs with projections on surpassing the 500 mark by 2008. Research
shows that, with the elimination of ATM fees, consumers are saving an
average of GBP7.32 monthly, almost GBP90 per person annually, for a
total of nearly GBP2.1 million per year. Furthermore, the ATMs are
projected to benefit businesses local to the machines by nearly GBP3.3
million a year. The research also revealed that, without the need to
withdraw substantial funds, 39% of consumers felt free ATMs encouraged
wise spending, 63% felt the ATMs discouraged the lure of robbery and
44% of those surveyed felt more safe as a result. Furthermore, nearly half
of merchants claim that the presence of the ATM encourages customers to
spend more, thus contributing to the local economy.

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Portfolio Recovery Associates’ Revenue Up 14%

VA-based Portfolio Recovery Associates reported that third quarter net income grew 4% over 3Q/06 to $11.7 million. Total revenue in the third quarter increased 14% to $54.6 million. The Company purchased $2.6 billion of face-value debt during the third quarter for $57.4 million, the third-largest amount the Company has spent on debt acquisitions in a single quarter. The debt was acquired in 59 pools from 23 different sellers. Cash collections rose 9% to $65.2 million in the third quarter. The Company’s fee-for-service businesses generated revenue of $8.5 million in the third quarter, up 40% over 3Q/06. For complete details on Portfolio Recovery Associates’ third quarter performance visit CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]).

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

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Heartland Payment Systems’ Q3 Profits Up 16%

NJ-based Heartland Payment Systems reported that total revenues for the third quarter were up 21% to $355 million. Net income for the quarter jumped 16% to $12 million. Processing volume for the third quarter increased 20% to $14.1 billion from 3Q/06. The Company’s active merchant count rose to 158,000 at September 30th, a 19% increase over the past twelve months. Same store sales at its installed base rose 3.6% during the quarter. Heartland noted that 86% of new merchants installed and 76% of total transactions were on “HPS Exchange.” The Company says it is also now expecting net revenue (total revenues less interchange, dues and assessments) to grow by approximately 21% and operating income as a percentage of net revenue to be approximately 21%, both for the full year 2007. For complete details on Heartland Payment Systems’ third quarter performance visit CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]).

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

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41% of Consumers to Reduce Holiday Spending

Deloitte’s “22nd Annual Holiday Survey” of retail spending and trends shows that 41% of consumers expect to reduce their spending this holiday season. Only 57% of consumers surveyed said the economy will improve or remain the same next year. However, 85% say they feel secure about their jobs, which is about even with last year. Surprisingly, the recent credit crunch was not cited as a primary reason for spending less this year. For the fourth straight year, gift cards are expected to be the top gift purchase, with 69% of consumers surveyed planning to buy them, compared with 66% last year. In addition, holiday shoppers are planning to buy even more cards this year: an average of 5.5 cards, compared with the 4.6 cards they planned to buy last year. One in six consumers plan to buy 10 or more cards, compared with 11% last year. Consumers are also spending more in total on gift cards and more per card: $36.25 per card on average compared with $30.22 last year.

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Healthcare VISA Gift Card is Launched

Health insurance provider Highmark has launched the “Healthcare VISA Gift Card” for consumers and recipients to cover out of pocket expenses related to maintaining personal health and wellness. The “Healthcare VISA Gift Card” can be used for a variety of purchases, including co-pays for doctor visits, prescriptions, vision care, dental care, health club memberships and elective procedures. The use of the card is limited to health and wellness merchants where VISA debit cards are accepted. The card is available for purchase online at the Healthcare Gift Card website. Highmark serves 4.6 million people through the company’s health care benefits business.

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Chase Picks Up the Tab Promotion is Launched

Chase is launching the “Chase Picks Up the Tab” promotion that is expected to make an estimated 50,000 purchases free for Chase debit card users. That’s because Chase will pick up the cost for every 500th debit card purchase made without using a PIN up to $500 during November and December. Chase’s 10 million checking account customers need to enroll in the program and start making purchases with their Chase debit card without using a PIN. And if a winning purchase is less than $5, Chase will increase the payoff to an even $5. Within 24 hours of their purchase, winning consumers will receive notice of this holiday present from Chase. All eligible debit card purchases from November 1st through December 31st are automatically entered in the promotion.

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Heartland Payment Systems Promotes 3 Execs

Heartland Payment Systems announced a series of executive promotions for Robert Baldwin, Alan Sims and Marty Moretti. Baldwin has been promoted to president and CFO. He has been responsible for building the finance function as the company grew from a $15 million value to $1.1 billion in market capitalization. During that time, he oversaw Heartland’s initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange in 2005 and held primary responsibility for the company’s internal controls, financial policies and procedures, and investor relations. Sims has been promoted to CTO. He was instrumental in the development and implementation of Exchange, Heartland’s proprietary front-end processing system. Marty Moretti has been promoted to chief service officer and will manage the company’s service center in Jeffersonville, IN. Moretti joined Heartland in 2002 from Welsch Financial Services most recently serving as executive director of servicing.

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eBay to Offer Gift Cards via Grocery Stores

eBay.com has introduced a gift card via nearly 10,000 grocery stores across the USA. The new card is available in $25 and $50 denominations and can be purchased at Kroger, Safeway, Vons, Dominick’s, Fred Meyer, and Ralphs. This is the first time eBay has offered a gift card offline. In order to redeem an “eBay Gift Card,” consumers can shop on eBay.com for items from sellers who accept PayPal. Once they win an item, buyers click “Pay Now” to proceed to checkout, then enter the 13-digit code from the back of the gift card. In addition to the new gift card, eBay also offers gift certificates that can be sent instantly via e-mail or printed, in denominations of $5 to $500.

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Comdata and Qualcomm Team for Gift Cards

Comdata Stored Value Solutions has announced a strategic alliance with Qualcomm to manage gift cards via mobile phones. Comdata’s 500 major retail clients and 600 million gift card users will be able to check and store their gift card balance information using mobile phones, rather than going to the retail store, going online or calling a voice response system. The service will offer convenience to cell phone consumers and give retailers the opportunity to communicate one-to-one messages with consumers who have opted-in to receive them and are inquiring about their cash balance on their gift cards. The retailer now has an opportunity to drive incremental traffic to its store by positioning a “call to action” message along with the gift card balance to the shopper who has opted in to receive such messages.

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