Ohio’s FirstEnergy to Accept MasterCards

OH-based FirstEnergy is accepting MasterCard credit and debit cards for customers to automatically pay their monthly electric bills. This convenient offering, available to customers of FirstEnergy’s seven electric utility operating companies that includes Ohio Edison, The Cleveland Electric Illuminating Company and Toledo Edison in Ohio; Metropolitan Edison, Pennsylvania Electric and Pennsylvania Power in Pennsylvania; and Jersey Central Power and Light in New Jersey, enables customers track payments easily via their monthly credit or debit card statement. Customers also may earn rewards depending on their specific card program. Customers enrolled in FirstEnergy’s electronic billing and payment program can participate in this service. FirstEnergy is a diversified energy company.

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Wright Express Powers PHH FirstFleet Card

Fort Lauderdale-based PHH FirstFleet and Wright Express Corporation have jointly announced the introduction of a new branded fleet fuel card for PHH FirstFleet customers. The card is accepted at over 180,000 fuel and vehicle maintenance locations, including more than 8,200 truck stops and 50,000 retail sites for diesel fuel. Customized specifically by PHH FirstFleet for its client base, the card program offers convenience, consolidated billing, comprehensive reporting, fraud control, and cost management capabilities.PHH FirstFleet is a national provider of asset management, financial services, and high technology operational support to the trucking and transportation industry. Wright Express is a provider of payment processing and information management services to the U.S. commercial and government vehicle fleet industry.

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Oberthur Q2 Smart Card Sales Rise 55%

Paris and Los Angeles-based Oberthur Card Systems reported that its second quarter payment smart card volume rose 54.9%, compared to one-year ago, to $47.9 million, with 26 million units delivered in the second quarter. Overall, second quarter revenues increased 17% to $198 million. During the quarter, conventional card business grew slightly in value sequentially, to $19.8 million. Year-on-year, the 18% decrease was mainly due to EMV and contactless migrations. The personalization services increased compared to the same period a year ago, in line with the bounce-back of activity in the microprocessor payment card segment. Sales amounted to $31.4 million, up 6.1% compared to the same period a year ago. Lower activity in the United States was largely offset by strong demand in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Italy. The whole payment segment, which represented 50% of Oberthur Card Systems 2Q/07 sales, amounted to $99.1 million, a 16.8% increase compared to 2Q/06. For complete details on Oberthur’s second quarter performance, visit CardData ([www.carddata.com][1])

REVENUES
2Q/06: $168.8 million
3Q/06: $161.5 million
4Q/06: $201.6 million
1Q/07: $182.5 million
2Q/07: $198.0 million
Source: CardData (www.carddata.com)

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

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CFSI Catalyst Fund to Target the Underbanked

The Center for Financial Services Innovation has established the “CFSI Catalyst Fund, L.P.”, a private equity limited partnership created to cultivate new financial services companies and solutions focused on the underbanked. The focus is on early growth stage companies with the potential for broad scale, near term profitability, and dramatic impact on the underbanked market segment. The Catalyst Fund’s strategy is to add value by building a syndicate of additional investors, as well as providing assistance to its portfolio companies. CFSI works with banks, credit unions, technology vendors, alternative service providers, consumer advocates and policy makers to forge pioneering relationships, products and strategies that will transform industry practice and the lives of underbanked consumers.

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Prepaid Meets Payday Loans for Overdrafts

Two companies have teamed up to combine a prepaid MasterCard with a line of credit to cover overdrafts. Short-term consumer cash loan specialist EZCORP and prepaid specialist NetSpend is offering a new overdraft protection feature to the “All-Access MasterCard Prepaid Card.” The new feature allows customers, who make direct deposits to the card, ongoing access to account overdraft protection up to $300. EZCORP offers non-recourse pawn loans in 295 U.S. locations. In 390 locations and 80 EZPAWN locations the Company offers payday loans. The NetSpend card is issued by MetaBank.

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OFF-SITE ATMS

A new study reveals that off-site ATMs are driving growth in cash-dispensing ATMs in Europe, doubling in the past five years. Out of a total of 425,888 cash-dispensing ATMs in Europe, nearly 150,000 are now off-site ATMs. London-based Retail Banking Research also found that off-site units make up more than half the total ATM market in 8 of the 10 CEE markets surveyed, but only 3 of 17 western Europe countries. Russian banks were some of the largest deployers of off-site ATMs. They added nearly 7,000 new off-site cash-dispensing ATMs during the year, equating to domestic growth rate of 42%. Other countries showing strong growth in off-site ATMs were Bulgaria, Denmark, the Netherlands and the Ukraine, whose number of non-branch installations all grew by more than 20%. RBR also noted that ATM surcharging is practiced in only three European ATM markets. The report predicts that the installed base of off-site cash-dispensing ATMs in Europe will rise to more than 220,000 terminals by the end of 2011, 40% of the expected total. Over half of these will be found in Russia, the Ukraine and the UK.

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CREDIT VS DEBIT

Auriemma Consulting Group (ACG) research shows that the monetary
size of a transaction is fundamental to a consumers’ choice to use a credit
or debit card. Despite relatively equal monthly purchases on debit and
credit cards (GBP297 vs. GBP293 per month, respectively), on purchases totaling
between GBP 51 and GBP 100, consumers are 40% more likely to use a
credit card than a debit card. The study also finds that cardholders are 4
times as likely to use a credit card on purchases over GBP 100. Because
almost half of the 502 card users surveyed said “focused” credit card
benefits
would encourage increased card use, the research suggests that consumers
use credit cards for higher purchases to take advantage of finance
functionality
and rewards. ACG is a management consulting firm in the payments and
lending industry with offices in London and New York.

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ECB & SEPA PROGRESS

The ECB has released its 5th progress report regarding SEPA with
attention focused on areas needing greater effort for project
implementation by January 2008. The report issued reflects the need
for all stakeholders to put forth an effort to address “gaps” for the
delivery of the Single Euro Payment Area and questions what short-
term obstacles the banking industry may encounter in meeting the
January-deadline. Furthermore, the ECB addresses what long-term
issues the industry may encounter in the future, the necessity of
clarity and bank reachability.

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OTI & GARANTI

On Track Innovations (OTI) will be providing Garanti Payment Systems
with contactless solutions. OTI will be providing its “Saturn 6000”
contactless
reader for security-enhanced EMV transactions for Garanti’s “Tap & Go”
program. The “Saturn 6000” also provides “ISO 14443 PayPass version 1.1,”
which Mastercard’s “Paypass” Technology began implementing this year.
The readers are accessible where PayPass Cards, Smart Stickers, Key Fobs
and watches are offered to “Bonus Trink” members. Garanti Bank has $36
billion in assets, has over 6.2 million corporate and private banking
customers,
487 domestic branches, and 1,455 ATMs.

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BofA Expands Envelope-Less ATM Deposits

Bank of America’s customers now have access to 2,500 ATMs that accept check and cash deposits without an envelope or deposit slip and are able to get immediate credit for cash deposits and same-day credit for deposits until 8 p.m. in the state the account is located. Some of the advantages of deposit image ATMs include receipts with an image of each check, verification of the amount of cash and the ATM adds up the deposit. In the past year, the number of deposits at the new ATMs increased up to 50 percent. Bank of America has more than 17,000 ATMs nationwide, and more than 12,000 of them accept deposits. The bank plans to convert all of its deposit-taking ATMs to the new envelope-free technology.

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Western Union’s Q2 C2C Business Tops $1B

Western Union reported that second quarter revenue increased 8% to $1.2 billion. Total consumer-to-consumer revenue grew 7% to more than $1.0 billion in the second quarter on transaction growth of 14%. This was the first time in Western Union history that this segment exceeded $1.0 billion in quarterly revenue. The consumer-to-business segment grew revenue 13% to $175 million in the quarter. As a result of the immigration debate and broader market softness in the U.S., the domestic consumer-to-consumer business saw a 10% decrease in revenue and a 5% decrease in transactions for the quarter, showing modest sequential improvement over the first quarter. During the quarter Western Union signed Checksmart and Ahold in the U.S., Australia Post, Nepal Post, Israel Postal Company, Ecobank covering a potential 17 countries in Africa, and Cash Express Services in Bulgaria. For complete details on Western Union’s second quarter performance visit CardData. ([www.carddata.com][1]).

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

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Concur Unveils Travel and Expense 2.0

Concur has unveiled the next generation of travel and expense management featuring “Smart Expense” enabling business travelers to book their trip with automatic processing of their expense reports. Concur takes advantage of e-receipts; complete, live, electronic data that contains the entire record of a supplier transaction including folio data that looks exactly like the supplier’s traditional paper receipt. “Smart Expense” automatically gathers and reconciles itinerary data captured at the time of booking, corporate card charges incurred by the employee and e-receipts captured directly from the supplier to be reconciled within one travel and expense management process. Concur is a provider of on-demand Employee Spend Management services.

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