Direct Energy Implements FDC’s Peace 8

First Data Utilities announced that Direct Energy has implemented the newest version of “Peace 8 Customer Information System” to manage its electricity and gas customers. “Peace 8” incorporates hundreds of new features and enhancements and reflects a particular focus on process improvement to lower utility customer cost-to-serve. Direct Energy delivered $7.6 billion USD of energy and energy-related services to residential and commercial customers in 2006. Direct Energy is one of North America’s largest energy and energy-related services providers with over 5 million residential and commercial customer relationships and is a subsidiary of Centrica plc. First Data Utilities develops utility billing software and provides outsourced utility billing and payment transaction services.

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MasterCard Hands-Out Prepaid Card Awards

MasterCard has given Altair Financial Services International the award for the “Best Newcomer 2006/7” for the prepaid market. The “Best Usage/Expansion Program 2006/7” was presented to PrePay Technologies for its “360money Mirror Quidity Card.” The “Best Multi-Channel Marketing Program” was won by Newcastle Building Society, which works with a number of partners specializing in a range of markets for prepaid cards, including shopping centers, travel, sport, lifestyle magazines and employee reward schemes. The “Best Cardholder Service” award was bestowed upon Advanced Payment Solutions for its “CashPlus Gold Card,” which launched in the retail sector last year. MasterCard this week released a new report that predicts spending on prepaid payment cards in Europe will reach $164 billion within three years.

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T-Base Communications & FDR to Partner

T-Base Communications and First Data Resources will collaborate to provide specialized statement services to First Data’s clients to give blind or partially sighted customers full access to their private financial statements in the format of their choice, including Braille and large print. First Data expects to make the service available in the third quarter of 2007. Issuers and billers who do not process their portfolio with First Data will also be able to use the service. First Data is a provider of electronic commerce and payment solutions for business worldwide. T-Base Communications specializes in Braille, large print, e-Text, audio and website accessibility.

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Citi Acquires Grupo Cuscatlan

Citi has completed the acquisition of substantially all of the subsidiaries of Grupo Cuscatlan. Under the terms of their agreement announced on December 13th Citi acquired Grupo Cuscatlan’s banking operations, some of its insurance operations, and other financial activities for $1.51 billion in cash and Citigroup stock. Grupo Cuscatlan serves more than 45,000 corporate banking customers and 1.2 million consumer banking customers through a distribution network of 202 branches and 263 ATM’s throughout the region. Mauricio Samayoa will remain CEO of Grupo Cuscatlan.

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PELORUS M-Payments Conference is Slated

The PELORUS Group will host “M-Payments & M-Banking: The Rise of Mobile Financial Services” June 27th and 28th at Caesars Atlantic City. Among the issues to be addressed: what is the potential for m-payments and m-banking to erode the traditional payment and credit card systems; when, why and how quickly will m-payments and m-banking catch on in the U.S.; how do these mobile financial services fit in with other mobile commerce offerings;what opportunities and threats do mobile payments and banking create for carriers, retailers, the financial industry, and companies that currently employ traditional payment systems and what are the key regulatory, standards, fraud prevention, and security issues.

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First Premier Shows Sub-Prime Market is OK

Despite the overall downturn in the sub-prime market, SD-based First Premier Bank continues to churn-out a solid performance. During the first quarter the issuer reported it added more than 100,000 cards to its portfolio. Outstandings rose 10% to $760,897,788, compared to 1Q/06. First quarter volume was up 8% to $319,939,641. First Premier’s account based increased from 4,003,282 in the fourth quarter to 4,142,265 for 1Q/07. According to FitchRatings, charge-offs for sub-prime portfolios decreased to 8.73% in March from 9.53% in February. The monthly payment rate decreased 69 bps to 9.89% from 10.58% in February. However, gross yield for sub-prime portfolios decreased 239 bps to 24.15% in March from 26.54% in February.

FIRST PREMIER ACCOUNT HISTORICAL
1Q/06: 3,755,000
2Q/06: 3,849,000
3Q/06: 3,958,000
4Q/06: 4,003,000
1Q/07: 4,112,000
Source: CardData (www.carddata.com)

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VideoKall Money Transfer Service is Launched

CA-based VideoKall says it has been working in stealth mode for some time with strategic partners on a video payphone-based EFT service called “VideoKall” for personal use and for migrant workers who have no bank accounts. The “VideoKall” service will provide public video payphones in shopping malls in several states where Mexican, Filipino and Indian migrant workers are frequent visitors. The service allows both sender and recipient to see each other on a video payphone before and during the money transfer. Workers in the U.S. will purchase smart cards to the value of the remittance they wish to send abroad, and then SMS text message their relatives abroad to let them know the mall location plus the phone number of the video payphone and the date and time they will call. The incentive for both parties to visit a mall, at a predetermined time to make the transfer.

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Ukrops Expands Savings Spot to Virginia

Ukrop’s Super Markets announced that its “Savings Spot” loyalty card program has expanded to all Ukrop’s Super Markets in Virginia. “Savings Spot”is a 1-to-1 shopper program delivering personalized offers and messages to shoppers at the start of their shopping trips. Shoppers scan their Ukrop’s Valued Customer Card (UVC Card) at the Savings Spot dispenser located near the store entrance and within seconds receive a sheet of up to eight offers and messages selected just for them based on their shopping history. Ukrop’s was the first retailer to pilot this system with its creator, Entry Point Communications (EPC) and joins Price Chopper based in Schenectady, NY in EPC’s growing retail media network of Entry Marketing dispensers. Ukrop’s Super Markets operates 28 retail food stores.

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Partnership Formed to Develop a GPS Terminal

Targeting the fast food and delivery markets, Worldscout Corporation
& BNA have announced a collaboration for developing a GPS, wireless,
credit/debit payment terminal. The GPS feature will enhance security by
allowing the processing corporations to be aware of the device location
at all times. It will also let the company know where delivery drivers are
and verify delivery times. Also offered with the solution is a “Panic
Button”
feature for the drivers’ safety in the event of a robbery or disablement.
Worldscout is a developer of global positioning technology. BNA is a
provider of Banksys Point-of-sale terminals.

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