First Data Expands its Presence in Poland

First Data payment service has announced it will be establishing offices
in Warsaw, Poland resulting in expansion in the country for the second
half of 2007. The company’s focus will be on bringing advanced payment
processing solutions to the Polish market. This market is considered to
be fundamental for First Data because of steady economic growth and
well-developed card industry. The company serves 4.9 million merchant
locations, 1,900 card issuers and their customers. Their STAR Network
offers debit acceptance at 2 million ATM and retail locations worldwide.

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Card Providers Improve Travel Insurance Perks

Analysis conducted by MoneyExpert.com has concluded that card providers
have improved travel insurance perks for cardholders. The average amount
of travel accident coverage on a credit card has increased in the last 10
months alone from around GBP 84,534 to GBP 107,547. Around three quarters
of all cards offer travel accident insurance and lost luggage coverage
reflects an average GBP 1,168. Average lost luggage coverage is almost
six times as much as it was in April last year. For travel insurance,
122 different cards will provide up to GBP 100,000 worth of coverage or
more and the lowest amount available is GBP 25,000.

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Sharper Image Adds the Bill Me Later Option

MD-based I4 Commerce has announced that its “Bill Me Later” payment service has been implemented through The Sharper Image to attract new customers and help increase sales online. “Bill Me Later” offers Sharper Image customers a fast, convenient and secure way to pay for online purchases without providing credit card information. With I4 Commerce’s promotional financing program, customers can also enjoy no payments for 90 days. The Sharper Image is a specialty retailer. I4 Commerce has more than 400 retailers in its trusted network.

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GPN Inks a Card & Check Deal with IADA

Atlanta-based Global Payments has established a referral relationship with the Illinois Automobile Dealers Association dealer members to provide payment card and check services. IADA will refer members to Global Payments for payment card and check processing solutions, including “eHold Check”, an electronic check solution allowing dealerships to hold checks for payment, until the customer’s funds are available; credit and debit card processing; electronic check conversion; check guarantee; check recovery services; as well as a full spectrum of management reporting tools and comprehensive software. Global Payments is a provider of electronic transaction processing services for consumers, merchants, Independent Sales Organizations, financial institutions, government agencies and multi- national corporations.

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More U.S. Casinos Incent Arriva Cardholders

“Arriva” Cardholders using the card for cash advances at 70 casinos are now eligible for exclusive bonuses and promotions. Cardholders can now enjoy 25 – 50% reduced casino service fees on “Arriva Card” cash advance transactions, complimentary accommodations with qualifying “Arriva Card” purchases up to $500 in free slot play with eligible “Arriva Card” enrollment and/or usage, $50 gift cards with “Arriva Card” cash advance purchases and up to 10,000 free players club points with play with eligible “Arriva Card” cash advance purchases. The “Arriva Card” was introduced to responsible in-casino cash advance customers with strong credit histories six months ago in a limited initial launch and is issued by CIT Bank.

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SAF-T-PAY and International Checkout Partner

SAF-T-PAY has entered into an alliance with CA-based International Checkout to bring efficient shipping and logistics together with fraud-free e-payment solutions. SAF-T-PAY allows e-banking customers and online shoppers to make e-commerce purchases worldwide directly through their local bank and enables international online-commerce transactions to be cleared through the customer’s existing bank, offering them a secure and convenient way to shop globally, but pay locally. Customers do not have disclose any personal financial information, eliminating the potential for international fraud. SAF-T-PAY is a secure e-payment system that allows all online bank customers to make online purchases worldwide directly through their local bank. International Checkout provides payment collection, door-to-door fulfillment, customs clearing, merchandise returns and customer service with an automated multi-lingual, multi-currency checkout system.

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Chase Becomes the Official Six Flags Card

NY-based Six Flags Amusement Parks and Chase Card Services have entered into a marketing and sponsorship relationship. Chase will become a “SixFlags Corporate Alliance” partner, collaborating on innovative in-park marketing and promotional initiatives and the Official Credit Card Issuer of Six Flags for all its U.S. parks. Chase will also become the first official sponsor of Six Flags’ “Read to Succeed” literary initiative, which promotes reading to over 1.5 million students in nearly 18,000 participating schools nationwide. JPMorgan Chase has more than 140 million credit cards issued. Six Flags is the world’s largest regional theme park company.

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Intersections’ 4Q/06 Revenue Stays Flat

VA-based Intersections reported that revenue for the fourth quarter was $54.7 million compared to $55.3 million for the third quarter and $43.2 million for the year ago quarter. Net income for the quarter was $639,000, compared to $2.6 million for the third quarter and $4.0 million for 4Q/05. The Company says earnings were impacted by approximately $1.2 million in previously announced severance payments to former senior executives, plus an additional $300,000 related to organizational consulting services related to these changes. Also, Intersections experienced an increase in the rate of credit card declines at one of their clients due to changes in the manner in which the client administers third party products, which resulted in a negative impact of approximately $1.4 million to pre-tax income. Total subscribers increased to approximately 4.63 million as of December 31st, compared to approximately 3.66 million as of year-end 2005. For more information on Intersection’s fourth quarter performance visit CardData (www.carddata.com).

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Citi and Obopay to Launch a P2P Pilot

Citi has inked an agreement with Obopay to pilot a P2P payments service later this year. The service will be offered to new and existing Citi credit and debit card customers. The new “Citi-Obopay Mobile P2P” service will allow pilot participants to send and receive money instantly via any mobile phone. Participants will be able to remotely track and manage their mobile payment accounts by checking balances, viewing payment histories, and adding funds directly from their mobile phone. Funds received via the service can also be accessed with a debit card provided with the service.

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Credit Manager’s Index Continues to Weaken

The “Credit Manager’s Index” slipped in February to 56.6, the sixth decline in seven months. The latest “Index” was impacted by sharp decreases in new credit applications. The National Association of Credit Management also notes that businesses are curtailing their spending in anticipation of an economic slowdown, a notion confirmed by January’s durable goods orders report, which showed that business orders for items meant to last more than a year dropped sharply last month. The NACM says there is continued economic momentum accompanied by stubborn signs of deterioration as median housing prices have fallen for six consecutive months and the U.S. Treasury yield curve has become increasingly negative. The seasonally adjusted “CMI” dropped 0.6% from 57.2 in January. One-year ago the “Index” stood at 57.3. On a year-over-year basis, the overall “CMI” fell 0.7%, as the drop in the services component of 2.6% more than outweighed the manufacturing component’s rise of 1.3%.

Credit Manager’s Index
Feb 06: 57.3
Mar 06: 58.1
Apr 06: 57.5
May 06: 54.9
Jun 06: 57.2
Jul 06: 57.6
Aug 06: 57.3
Sep 06: 57.1
Oct 06: 55.3
Nov 06: 55.2
Dec 06: 54.7
Jan 07: 57.2
Feb 07: 56.6
Source: National Association of Credit Management

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WESTERN UNION MILESTONE

The Western Union Company has topped 300,000 locations around the
globe after nailing big deals in India. In 2003, Western Union had
151,000 locations and hit 271,000 last year. The latest opening is in
Chandigarh. Western Union has more than 36,000 agent locations in India
across more than 4,000 cities, towns and villages. This includes over
8,500 post offices, over 14,000 branches of leading banks and over
14,000 locations of leading public-and private-sector companies. Its
newest agent location is run by Paul Merchants Limited, a principal
agent for Western Union in India since 1998. PML commenced Money
Exchange business in 1995 and at the moment is one of the leading
players in Money Exchange arena and is rated amongst top ten sellers of
“American Express Travelers Cheques” in India.

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