BBS and PBS Form Nordic NETS

BBS and PBS have agreed to merge their card transaction processing activities into a new company. The new company, Northern European Transaction Services, will handle an annual volume of more than 3 billion transactions. Nordea, the largest bank in the Nordic region, has decided to consolidate its card acquiring transaction processing in Denmark, Norway and Sweden through NETS. BBS and PBS will own 50% each of NETS. NETS will offer its services in the North European markets, and aims at 5 billion transactions within the end of 2008.

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Citi Platinum MasterCard Adds iTunes Points

Citi Platinum MasterCard customers will now be able to collect “iTunes
music points” to be redeemed at Apple’s online music store. Cardholders
earn one “iTunes music point” for every 1 GBP spent on their card. For
example, one music track costs 79 pence and requires 150 points. The
points can also be used to exchange for iPOD movies, entire music albums
and MP3 Players. Cardholders need to have accumulated 150 points before
they can start to redeem them and, if they spend 250 GBP worth of
purchases within three months of receiving their Platinum MasterCard,
they will earn 2000 bonus points.

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Wirecard Develops Payment Solutions With Schneider

Wirecard will work with IT consulting company e-velopment of the
Schneider Group on electronic payment solutions and risk management for
mail-order business. e-velopment develops solution requirements of mail
order businesses using its’ software platform, “360degrees.” Wirecard AG’s software platform is used by more than 6,000 companies across the globe.

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Advocates Want Curbs on Credit Card Spending

From December 2005 to December 2006, credit card debt rose $21 billion.
In the same period, the number of bankruptcies filed rose by 20%.
Correlating with these statistics, credit provided to private consumers
rose 14.9 % and spending has risen 5% between January 2006 and January
2007. Due to the detrimental impact this tends to have on the family
institution, Pia Vogel, managing director of HomeSource homeowner
advocacy, is pushing for government policy limiting excessive credit
card spending. Vogel pushes for government regulation citing that
financial stress is a major contributing factor to family break-ups.

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FDC Partners with NCS to Offer Mobile Payments

First Data has partnered with mobile payment provider, NCS Network, in
an agreement to offer “Crandy” e-commerce and mobile payment services.
The new service currently provides merchants with a mobile payment
system for handling micro-payments and customers with an easy payment
solution. To establish “Crandy” service, the customer calls, requests an
account and their mobile number, essentially, becomes their “Crandy”
account number. As a result of the payment solution, on-street ticketing
and vending merchants stand to gain revenue as consumers use the mobile
payment option over cash. Furthermore, the service reduces merchant and
consumer transaction costs because of transaction routing efficiency.
Also, Banks and other issuers can offer services to merchants and
consumers. “Crandy” currently serves 360,000 consumers in Europe.
First Data serves 4.9 million merchant locations and 1,900 card issuers.

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MasterCard Releases Preventative Fraud Guide

Contributing to Fraud Prevention Month, Mastercard has developed
“Exchange: A Guide to Understanding Payment Cards”. The 21-page guide
addresses how to choose a credit card, protecting yourself from fraud
and new developments in payment cards. The guide will arm consumers with
knowledge of the industry, for what credit cards are intended, and how
not to use them. Annually, credit cards account for $215 billion in
retail sales in Canada and the average Canadian credit card transaction
is $110.

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Wirecard & Bird Group Team for Travel Payment Solutions

Wirecard and the Bird Group have signed agreements on travel payment
solutions. The agreement between the two companies will enable the Bird
Group to provide clients with secure payment solutions. The agreement
will also provide WireCard AG with a great opportunity for expansion in
the Asian market. The Bird Group has over 3,200 employees and provides
companies with travel services and information technology.

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Banks To Disclose More Consumer Information

The Reserve Bank of India has mandated that financial institutions
disclose fees and other details to customers as a means to check hidden
costs and provide a clearer picture of the service provided. Responses
to applications for loans and credit cards also should provide details
in the event that the consumers request is not granted. Those
institutions that are unable to meet the April 1st deadline are required
to inform RBI as to when they plan to do so.

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Macon Missouri Bank Joins STAR Network

Macon-Atlanta State Bank has signed an agreement with First Data to provide “STAR Network” access for its debit cardholders and as its primary ATM network. Additionally, the bank is adopting First Data’s fraud prevention and “Card Value Validation” services for its PIN-secured debit transactions. Macon-Atlanta State Bank was one of the first financial institutions in Missouri to offer debit cards to its customers. The STAR Network connects Macon-Atlanta State Bank’s cardholders with account access at approximately 2 million ATM and retail locations. There are approximately 158 million cards carrying the STAR logo.

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Bearskin Airlines Joins UATP Travel Payment Network

Bearskin Airlines has chosen UATP to address needs of corporate
travelers, initiating the company as part of the UATP global corporate
travel payment network. This network is issued by 13 airlines and
accepted worldwide. In selecting UATP, Bearskin is responding to
clients’ requests for allowing for wider acceptance. Bearskin has also
chosen to participate in the frequent flyer program, Aeroplan. Aeroplan
miles can be earned and redeemed to over 700 destinations in more than
120 countries. UATP accounts are issued by 15 member airlines and
accepted as a form of payment for corporate business travel by more than
200 airlines worldwide.

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Cards Account for 16% of Small Biz Payments

A new study has found that payments are a critical issue for businesses with annual revenues under $5 million. Checks account for 40% of customer payments to small businesses, while cash accounts for 25%, credit cards account for 16% and PayPal accounts for nine percent. (The receipt of PayPal payments was driven by small businesses that sell over the Internet.) Boston-based consulting group Dove Consulting also found that 88% of all small businesses accept both cash and checks and 54% accept credit cards and signature debit cards. Nearly a quarter of all small businesses surveyed reported using a debit card to make payments for their business. However, debit only accounts for five percent of small business payments. The study concludes that banks and payment processors need to deepen customer relationships with specific services for the small business sector.

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Card Debt and Volume Rise 14% in January

Credit card debt made its seasonal dip in January after peaking in December as credit card volume eased back too, following the holiday shopping season. However, credit card debt is up 14.6% and charge volume is running 13.8% higher than January 2006. Also, credit card limits reached a new high at A$104.7 billion, marking the fifth consecutive month of A$100+ billion. Card volume was A$15.7 billion during January, compared to a previous record of A$17.1 billion set in December, according to the Reserve Bank of Australia. For January, credit card balances decreased about A$0.6 billion from the previous month. One-year ago credit card debt stood at A$33.5 billion. Gross dollar volume on credit card and charge cards was A$13.8 billion for January 2006. There are currently 13.3 million credit card and charge card accounts in Australia, compared to 12.6 million one-year ago.

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