Capital One UK Caught in FSA PPI Crackdown

The 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.

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Discover Certifies INSIDE Contacless Hardware

The Discover Network has certified “MicroPass L4” intelligent hardware
from INSIDE Contactless. The “MicroPass L4” hardware consists of a
contactless chip to be used in fobs, cards and other devices in
Discover’s contactless payment network. The hardware is to be used for
quick retail transactions with the wave of a card, offering customer
convenience and the merchant benefit of moving more customers through
check-out lines in less time. Discover operations serves over 4,200
financial institutions and includes almost 250,000 ATMs and
approximately 3.4 million POS terminals. INSIDE Contactless has been
expanding over the past two years with more than 12M chips delivered for
contactless payment cards in the US market.

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TUV SUD to Offer Galitt’s KaNest Tools

Tokyo-based TUV SUD has inked a deal to market Paris-based GALITT’s
“KaNest” and “KaNest-ICC” testing and certification tools in Japan.
GALITT’s simulation tools facilitate certifiable testing of smart card
and transactional systems. The “KaNest” simulators provide a
customizable test tool to validate exchanges between transactional
systems, including card processing systems and stock exchanges. The
“KaNest-ICC” simulators aim at testing smart card and accepting devices,
including all EMV-related components. TUV SUD Japan started the testing
of terminal devices for IC cards in 1998. KaSYS merged with COGESYS and
CARD.dev to create GALITT in 2004.

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H&R Block Canada Launches a Debit Card

In conjunction with Direct Cash, H&R Block will be offering “Instant
Cash Back” clients debit cards across Canada. With the debit card option,
clients will be allowed safe & secure access to their annual tax refund.
The card is immediately loaded and distributed with the customer’s tax
refund, including a secure PIN number, and is accepted at all Interac ATMs.
Because it is the client’s own money on the debit card, it is not
necessary for them to have a bank account or undergo a credit check to
qualify. H&R Block Canada is a subsidiary of H&R Block and prepares
nearly two million tax returns annually. H&R Block Canada has more than
1,000 offices throughout Canada.

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Nomad Expands Prepaid Card Operations

Nomad reports it had introduced 40 new prepaid programs in 2006 as a
result of its rapidly increasing customer base. The new programs are in
addition to the company’s already established services throughout
Europe. The company’s prepaid customer base increased by 50 percent last
year. The rapid expansion of this division of the company demonstrates
that Nomad’s tailor-made solution meets this market’s demands. Research
indicates that the open prepaid market is set to grow at 32% per annum
reaching a total in 2009 of over $43 billion.

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Advantex Finally Delivers an Operating Profit

Thanks to the growth of Advantex’ Advance Purchase Marketing Programs,
the fourth calendar quarter was the first quarter in recent history that the company
delivered an operating profit. Net revenue for the quarter was $3.4
million, an increase of 31.5% over the corresponding quarter in the
previous year. This growth reflects the positive impact of the increase
in assets deployed ($4.1 million compared to December 2005) in the
Company’s Advance Purchase Marketing Programs. Also, as a result of the
purchase programs, Advantex gross profit for the quarter was 2.2
million. Advantex is a marketing services company.

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Reliance Capital Becomes Principal Agent of Western Union

Western Union has announced Reliance Capital will be the principle agent
in India. The relationship developed after Reliance Capital acquired
Western Union’s former principle agent, Travelmate Services of India,
which had more than 3,000 agent locations. Reports indicate that in
2006, India was the world’s largest receiver of remittances with 23.4
billion US dollars. Reliance Capital ranks among the top three
private-sector financial services and banking companies in terms of net
worth. Western Union has a network of approximately 300,000 Agent
locations in over 200 countries and territories.

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Equifax to Acquire TALX for $1.4B

Equifax will acquire TALX in a stock and cash transaction valued at approximately $1.4 billion, including the assumption of debt. St. Louis-based TALX is a major provider of employment verification and related human resource/payroll services, serving over 9,000 clients in the U.S. Over the past three fiscal years, TALX’s revenues and net income have grown at a CAGR of 29.1% and 54.9%. Over the past three quarters revenue has grown 33% to $197 million. The acquisition of TALX is aligned with Equifax’s long-term growth strategy of expanding into new markets and acquiring proprietary data sources.

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Pay By Touch to Offer GETI Products

Global eTelecom announced that CA-based Pay By Touch will offer their partners and merchants GETI’s check conversion & guarantee products, enabling merchants to accept and process paper checks electronically to add increased value and efficiency. Global eTelecom provides proprietary electronic check processing and gift/loyalty services to over 35,000 merchants nationwide. Pay By Touch biometric services enable 3.5 million shoppers to quickly and securely access personal accounts using a finger scan to identify themselves, make purchases and cash checks at 3,000 locations nationwide.

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Brisk Online Sales for Valentine’s Day

comScore Networks released a study on Valentine e-commerce activity indicating flowers and greeting cards saw the most dramatic gains of 98% to $24.5 million during the week ending February 11. Jewelry and watches also saw a bump in sales to $24.7 million, up 22% versus the prior weeks. In January, more than 29 million Americans visited the Flowers, Gifts & Greeting Cards retail category, representing approximately one out of every six U.S. Internet users. The American Greetings Property led the category with 8.1 million visitors, followed by Hallmark with 5.6 million visitors and RedEnvelope.com with 1.9 million visitors. comScore Networks provides data on more than 2 million consumers who have given comScore permission to confidentially capture their browsing and transaction behavior, including online and offline purchasing.

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Fiserv’s GalaxyPlus Introduces S.T.A.R.S.

Fiserv’s GalaxyPlus Credit Union Systems is now offering the “S.T.A.R.S”. program, an online, points-based rewards system that can enhance the member/credit union relationship, foster cross-selling efforts, and boost employee performance. Members earn points for using a credit union’s products and services, which they can redeem for a variety of rewards. “S.T.A.R.S.” offers credit unions the flexibility to choose which products and services to reward members for using, anything from home banking to e-statements. Credit unions can also use “S.T.A.R.S”. to reward employees for their performance. Members can visit a point history screen on their credit union’s website, which defines how they received their points. They can then “shop” a virtual store to redeem their points for a variety of prizes, from lower fees and preferred interest rates to gift cards and digital cameras. GalaxyPlus Credit Union Systems provides credit union technology services. WI-based Fiserv provides information management systems and services to the financial and insurance industries.

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UPS Wants AmEx CFO to Joins its Board

UPS’ Board of Directors have nominated Gary L. Crittenden, EVP and CFO of the American Express Co. as a new director to stand for election at the annual shareowners meeting in May. Crittenden is a member of the American Express Global Leadership Team, the company’s senior-most management group. Crittenden serves as a key advisor on strategic and financial matters worldwide as well as representing American Express to investors, lenders and rating agencies. Crittenden began his career in consulting with Bain & Company, where he worked on a range of strategic projects in the United States and Germany. Prior to joining American Express, he also worked as the CFO of Monsanto and Sears Roebuck Co. Crittenden holds a BS degree in management from Brigham Young University and an MBA from Harvard.

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