Sagem Orga Appoints A New Manager

Silvio Stockmann has been appointed head of banking, health and ID units
for Sagem Orga, a smart card expert. Stockmann has taken on new
responsibilities in the company, having been a vice president until this
appointment. Sagem Orga leads the market in the identification field.
The companies’ market share in the banking segment increased by 40% in the last year alone. By comparison, the international banking
market grew only 20%.

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Collis Joins GlobalPlatform Membership

Collis has joined GlobalPlatform’s expanding network of Systems
Compliance Test for Profile and Scripting. The compliance testing is to
develop faster and more efficient development processing for card
issuance systems. The membership allows Collis to closely track debates
& activities of all GlobalPlatform technical committees of the platform.
Collis is a VISA chip migration partner and has delivered significant
contributions to the EMV, e-Identification and 3G/GSM markets for over a
decade with high quality testing tools and expert consultancy and
training. GlobalPlatform is fundamental for smart card infrastructure
development. The platform is a member driven association with
cross-industry representation from all world continents.

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Euronet Completes Acquisition Of Brodos SRL

The acquisition of Brodos by Euronet, an electronic payments provider,
is now complete. Brodos Romania specializes in processing
electronic purchases of prepaid mobile phone airtime primarily on
point-of-sale(POS) terminals and supports top-up purchases at more than
14,000 POS terminals. With this acquisition, Euronet will have an
established Romanian prepaid market and offer additional prepaid
products to retail customers in the country. Currently, approximately 70
percent of Romania’s 22 million population have mobile phones, of
which more than 60 percent represent prepaid accounts. Euronet processes
electronic top-up transactions at more than 265,000 point-of-sale
terminals across approximately 157,000 retailers around the world. The
company has 27 worldwide offices and serves clients in more than 80
countries.

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Fiserv’s Paytraxx Gains More Traction

Fiserv’s electronic bill payment product “Paytraxx” signed 91 new financial institutions in 2006. The “Paytraxx” solution features extensive administrative capabilities that enable financial institutions to control user access, manage payment limits, generate reports, review enrollment history, review payments and alert history, and communicate securely with customers – all via a convenient Web-based interface. “Paytraxx” also lets the institution choose from a wide range of processing options, offering flexibility over user enrollment, authentication, payment posting and customer support.

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ADS Renews & Expands Redcats Card Deal

Dallas-based Alliance Data Signs has renewed its agreement to provide private label credit card services for Redcats USA’s family of catalog brands and has expanded the relationship to include co-branded cards, plus a new card for the “Sportsman’s Guide.” The 10-year agreement includes account acquisition and activation, receivables funding, credit authorization, card issuance, statement generation, direct mail and email marketing services, remittance processing, marketing and customer service functions. Under the deal ADS will continue private label credit card services for the Redcats USA brands including Woman Within, Roaman’s, Jessica London, KingSize, Chadwick’s, metrostyle, La Redoute, OneStopPlus.com, BrylaneHome and BrylaneHome Kitchen, BCO (Brylane Catalog Outlet) and CCO (Closeout Catalog Outlet). Redcats USA’s catalog and online brands. ADS will also provide co-brand credit card services to supplement these card programs, targeting them to customers that meet ADS’ traditional credit quality standards. Redcats USA mails more than 600 million catalogs annually with 17 brands in 28 countries.

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CTFS Card Balances Rise 8% to $1837

Canadian Tire’s Financial Services division has increased loans
receivable by 7% between 4Q 2005 and 4Q 2006. 4Q 2005 reflected a
$3.4 billion portfolio whereas 4Q 2006 reflected a $3.6 billion
portfolio. This increase is due, in part, to the growth in the number of
accounts carrying a balance and an 8.2 percent increase in the average
account balance to $1,837 at the end of 2006. Financial Services’ pre-tax earnings for the
fourth quarter were $53.7 million, a 3.7% decrease from the $55.8
million recorded in the fourth quarter of 2005. The fourth quarter
adjusted earnings before income taxes increased 20.1% to $51.4
million from $42.8 million for the same period last year. These gains
helped offset lower year-over-year gains and the $6.1 million it cost
the company in its’ retail banking initiative. Canadian Tire operates
more than 1,100 stores, gas bars and car washes in an inter-related
network of businesses engaged in retail, financial services and petroleum.

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Credit Card Solicitations Climb 30% in 06

U.S. consumers received nearly 8.0 billion direct mail credit card solicitations last year, a 30% increase over the prior year. The gain was about double the growth rate of 2005 even though response rates are hovering at 0.3%, according to CardWatch(R) ([www.cardwatch.com][1]). Response rates have declined from 2.8% fifteen years ago to 1.2% ten years ago to 0.6% five years ago. American Express and Capital One led all other issuers in 2006 followed by Chase and Citibank.

U.S. CARD SOLICITATIONS
(billions)
1998: 3.44
1999: 2.54
2000: 3.54
2001: 5.01
2002: 4.89
2003: 4.29
2004: 5.23
2005: 6.06
2006: 7.90
Source: CardWatch (www.cardwatch.com)

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

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Arthur Blank Introduces Scented Cards

A major U.S. card manufacturer this week unveiled a new enhancement adding the sense of smell to its products. The new “Scratch ‘N’ Sniff Card” can be applied to loyalty, rewards, membership or gift card programs. Boston-based Arthur Blank & Co. is offering 120 enticing scents including hazelnut, cappuccino, cinnamon crunch, spearmint and orange spice. AB also says it is offering custom scents and targeting direct mail and promotional programs for the new product. The “Scratch ‘N’ Sniff Card” is available in all of AB’s standard products. Other recently launched AB products include the “MirrorCard,” the “AB RecycledCard,” “CornCard USA,” “DualKard,” and the “Dura7 Card.” AB has the capacity to print up to 1.4 billion cards per year.

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Cap One UK Caught in FSA PPI Crackdown

The U.K.’s Financial Services Authority fined Capital One Bank (Europe) about $350,000 for alleged unfairness and misrepresentation in marketing “Payment Protection Insurance” to its credit cardholders. The issuer has undertaken a full remedial program at a cost of around $6 million. The FSA’s investigation focused purely on credit card PPI sales. During 2005 Capital One sold approximately 335,000 U.K. credit card PPI policies. The FSA says Capital One failed to send a policy document to more than 50,000 PPI customers between January 2005 and April 2006, although they did receive a policy summary. Also, two out of four script options used by its sales associates did not ask the customer for consent explicitly to receive only limited information over the telephone; the scripts did not ensure adequate disclosure in enough cases of policy features and benefits and policy exclusions and limitations; failure to provide customers who purchased PPI other than by telephone with the policy document prior to the conclusion of the contract; and compliance monitoring of telephone sales of PPI was not sufficiently effective. The FSA is currently investigating over 200 PPI firms in the U.K.

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APACS Issues Update On Chip & Pin Progress

APACS’ progress report on chip & PIN technology reflects success a year
after the national change over to the new system. Reports show that over
99.9% of all transactions are now PIN verified, transactions
using the new system have gone up by 60 transactions per second over the
past year (to 185), and UK’s banks and credit cards have issued over 138
million chip and PIN cards. On a national scale, this represents 97% of
the UK’s total cards. Reports regarding the chip & PIN
technology also reflect that 98% of retailers, approximately
900,000 merchants, have upgraded equipment to be compatible with the new
technology, card fraud losses have been on a downward spiral and
transactions have been quicker. APACS plans to introduced even more
advanced security technology in 2007. APACS is the trade body for
payments that gives banks, building societies and card issuers a forum
where they can work together on non-competitive issues.

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Delta Joins AmEx’s Intl Airline Program

American Express has added Delta Air Lines as its 18th partner to its International Airline Program (IAP), available exclusively to Platinum Card and Centurion Card members. The International Airline Program is available when booking through Platinum Travel Services and Centurion Travel Services. It enables Card members to receive a complimentary companion ticket on qualifying international flights with the purchase of a first or business class ticket, depending on the carrier. The addition of Delta brings new non-stop destinations to the program including Istanbul, Kiev, Budapest, Bucharest and certain destinations within the Caribbean and Mexico. U.S. Cardmembers may use IAP as often as they like and enjoy the flexibility of a refundable ticket with no blackout dates.

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Consumers Plot & Plan Online in January

Consumers typically use January as a planning time and this year Web traffic shows a big uptick in visitation to tax, travel, careers and real estate Web sites. comScore Media Metrix reports that IRS.gov had 13.3 million visitors, a 205% increase over December, making it the top gaining property for the month. The Hotels/Resorts category experienced a 29% boost in visitation, led by Walt Disney Parks & Resorts Online with 6 million visitors. The top “Career Services” site in January was CareerBuilder with 21.1 million visitors. In the Real Estate category Move Network led with 8.5 million visitors. Overall, Advertising.com retained the number one position for the 33rd consecutive month, reaching 85% of the U.S. online population. Within the top ten, Google moved up two positions to number seven, reaching 61% of Americans online.

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