Most Americans Are Worried About Finances

The sub-prime lending implosion and the volatility on Wall Street has most Americans worried. A new poll from Harris Interactive found that 56% of Americans say they are worried about their financial situation. Just under half of U.S. adults say the economy is declining. One-third of Americans say, compared to a year ago, their own personal finances have gotten worse. One-third of Americans say that paying down their own personal debt is a problem while 44% say it is not a problem. Over the last year, 33% say that paying down this personal debt has become harder while 28% say it is neither easier nor harder and 18% say it has become easier. Almost half of “Gen Xers” (those aged 31-42) say paying down debt has become a problem while 41% of this generation say it has become harder in the past year to pay down their personal debt. Just one-quarter of “Echo Boomers” (those aged 18-30) say paying down personal debt is a problem for them. Harris noted that “Echo Boomers” are also the ones with the least amount of personal debt as 39% say they have none.

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ARM Index Picks Up Strong Momentum in Q2

An indicator of economic conditions affecting the accounts receivable management industry rose 3.7% during the second quarter. The “Kaulkin Ginsberg Index” also showed that the market cap of ARM companies grew 14% in 2Q/07. However, the “KGI” is down 5.0% from 1472.5 at the same time a year ago. The market cap data for ARM stocks in the second quarter reflect higher revenue for four of the five ARM companies assessed by the “Index” over results from the same quarter in the prior year. Second quarter cash collections were also up (as much as 20 percent) for all five companies over the same period in 2006, and are expected to remain strong following several large purchases of distressed debt portfolios by these firms earlier in 2007.

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HOME CAPITAL & PSIGATE

Home Capital Group has announced its acquisition of Payment Services
Interactive Gateway Corp. (“PSiGate”). The transaction is worth 18.4
million
and is contingent upon acceptance of holders of not less than 66 2/3% of
PSiGate’s Shares and receipt of all regulatory approvals and other
customary
conditions. Home Capital Group Inc. is a subsidiary of Home Trust Company
and offers deposit, mortgage lending, retail credit and credit card issuing
services. PSiGate provides e-commerce solutions and has 10,574,469
common shares outstanding and 914,000 options to purchase common
shares.

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POST OFFICE & BRITISH GAS

A recently signed agreement between Post Office Ltd and British Gas,
running until the end of 2010, allows the 6 million British Gas customers
to pay their gas and electric bills at the 14,000 Post Office branches, of
which 99% of the population lives within a 3 mile radius. Of the Post
Office branches, 7,500 are equipped with a “Post Office paystation”
terminal which allow customers to add credit to electricity key meters.
Over 24 million people visit the Post Office each week with 270 million
bill payment transactions in 2006. The payment service is free and accepts cash, check and debit card.

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Chase Paymentech Ranked #1 by E-Tailers

Dallas-based Chase Paymentech has been ranked as the number one payments provider by the 2007 edition of “Internet Retailer’s Guide to E-Commerce Technology. The Top 500 Guide lists America’s largest retail web sites ranked by annual sales. The 500 largest U.S. eRetailers generated sales of $83.6 billion in 2006, representing 61 percent of the nation’s $136.2 billion retail web sales. The Top 500 grew their online sales by 21 percent last year, and three new sites raised the total number of companies that recorded online retail sales of $1 billion or more to 17. Chase Paymentech provides payment services to 80 percent of this $1 billion list. Chase Paymentech Solutions is a global payments firm and the world’s largest merchant acquirer, transacting payments in 140 currencies.

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PAYZONE & BLOCKBUSTER

payzone cash acceptance network has signed agreements with
Blockbuster entertainment stipulating approval of marketing
payzone’s “pink brand” at 700 of the company’s outlets. This will open
the market of “pink brand’s” mobile phone top-up service & gifts, valued at
GBP4.2billion in 2006, to the 9.5 million Blockbuster customer households.
In addition, payzone will provide customers with “gift services
transactions
card”, re-loadable gift cards for use at various retailers. Experts
project this
agreement to generate revenue of GBP 40 million from MTU and GBP
18 million from gift cards in the first year. These 700 Blockbuster outlets
are among the 6500 payzone has added in 2007, which are among the
29,000 total locations.

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Card Accounting Impacts Nordstrom Earnings

Seattle-based Nordstrom reported that the costs associated with a new accounting treatment for its co-branded VISA receivables and securitized debt, which is secured by both the co-branded VISA and private label receivables, impacted its latest quarterly earnings . Nordstrom reported net earnings of $180.4 million, or $0.71 per diluted share,for the second quarter ended August 4, 2007. For the same period last year, net earnings and earnings per diluted share were $178.8 million and $0.67, respectively. Earnings per diluted share in the second quarter increased 6% compared to the same quarter last year. Total sales in the second quarter were $2.39 billion, an increase of 5.2% compared to sales of $2.27 billion during the same period in fiscal 2006. Second quarter same-store sales increased 5.9% Approximately $14 million of the bad debt reserve is non-comparable due to the new accounting treatment for co-branded Visa receivables. The remaining $8 million of the incremental provision resulted from growth in both the Visa and proprietary card receivables ahead of plan, and from changes to assumed repayment rates versus last year. In other income, the company recorded a gain on sale of approximately $5.0 million for the disposal of an asset, which had a positive impact on earnings per diluted share of $0.01. Nordstrom repurchased approximately 11.4 million shares of its common stock during the second quarter for $590 million. This reduction in weighted-average shares outstanding had a $0.01 positive impact on earnings per diluted share for the quarter.

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NETELLER & CENTRICOM

Neteller has completed the acquisition of Centricom Limited for AUD
$5million extending its presence as a merchant payments hub. Furthermore,
this development expands Neteller’s hold in the Asia Pacific online payment
market and allows the extension of Centricom’s POLiTM payment platform
to more merchants. Resulting from the acquisition, Neteller will be
appointing a director to the Centricom board, which is backed Jagen group,
an international investment group that is also the Centricom majority
shareholder.

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i2c Hires a New Account Advocate

i2c, a specialist in transaction processing and stored value card management solutions, announced that Monica Hoang has joined as an Account Advocate. Prior to joining i2c, Hoang worked in account coordination and management for a Financial and Health Care organization. Hoang’s primary role is to develop the relationship with senior decision-makers within our client’s organization and to maintain an understanding of their business in terms of current performance and future strategies. The position also involves, ensuring the client is constantly driving maximum value from our products for business benefit and competitive advantage. She holds a B.A. in Mass Communications and Biological Sciences from California University of Hayward. i2c is a global technology provider of electronic payment processing solutions.

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Small Biz Card Users Want Gas Discounts

New research shows that about 75% of small business credit card users have some type of reward associated with their business or corporate credit card. However, the survey revealed there is a gap between card rewards that are valued by small businesses and those that are actually used or held on small business credit cards. Atlanta-based Synergistics Research found that slightly more than one-quarter say they receive cash rebates through their small business credit card, while about two-thirds indicate this would be a valuable reward for them. Less than one-fifth receive gasoline discounts of any kind, while almost six in ten say this would be valuable. One-quarter say they receive travel discounts, but almost six in ten cite this reward as valuable. Likewise, one-quarter say they have travel discounts on their small business credit card, while more than half value this reward.

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