Study Says PIN Access to Cards is Not Iron Clad

A new report suggests that there is a serious security vulnerability in the PIN processing systems of banks worldwide. Israeli-based Algorithmic Research says the vulnerability could enable the exposure of the PIN codes of magnetic strip and EMV cards used by millions of customers globally. The flaw enables an attacker to discover PIN codes, for example, when entered by customers while withdrawing cash from an ATM. Also, a bank insider could use an existing “Hardware Security Module” to reveal the encrypted PIN codes and exploit them to make fraudulent transactions, or to fabricate cards whose PIN codes are different than the PIN codes of the legitimate cards. Even worse, an insider of a third-party switching provider could attack a bank outside of his territory or even in another continent.

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Euronet Worldwide Acquires RIA Envia

KS-based Euronet Worldwide has acquired Los Angeles-based RIA Envia, the third-largest global consumer-to-consumer remittance company. The deal involved $380 million in cash, $110 million in Euronet stock and certain contingent value and stock appreciation rights. Ria originates transactions through a network of over 10,000 sending agents and 98 company-owned stores located throughout 13 countries in North America, the Caribbean, Europe and Asia and terminates transactions through a payer network of over 32,000 locations across 82 countries. Ria processed $4.5 billion in money transfers last year. Euronet has processing centers located in the U.S., Europe and Asia, and processes electronic top-up transactions at more than 265,000 point-of-sale terminals across approximately 157,000 retailers in Europe, Asia Pacific, Africa and the U.S. The deal is expected to close during the first or second quarter of 2007.

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IRIS REGONITION

Oki Electric Industry has succeeded in developing “Iris Recognition Technology” for mobile terminals. OKI has been providing its iris recognition technology-based equipment to government agencies, financial institutions and other enterprises in Japan and overseas. While these devices require a dedicated infrared camera, the new “Iris Recognition Technology for Mobile Terminals” can use a standard camera that is embedded in a mobile terminal, because of the original algorithm OKI has developed. OKI plans to commercialize the “Iris Recognition Technology” worldwide starting in March.

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Business Owners Feel Good About Economic Status

Small business owners’ confidence in the U.S. economy rose for the fourth straight month in November. The “Discover Small Business Watch” survey surged 10 points to 130. Nearly half, rate the U.S. economy as “Excellent” or “Good,” up from 44% in October. Twenty-two percent rate it “Poor.” About 45% say economic conditions for their business will get better over the next six months, up from 37% in October. The percentage of owners who feel economic conditions are getting worse dropped to 30%, compared to 35% last month. Approximately 36% feel that economic conditions in the U.S. are getting better, compared to 31% in October. Those who feel conditions are getting worse dropped to 48%, down from 59% in August.

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Planet Payment to Power Standard Chartered Bank Payment Solutions

Standard Chartered Bank announced an initiative to facilitate integrated payment solutions for hospitality and retail merchants located within Hong Kong, China and Macau. Planet Payment will be serving as the regional transaction switch to Standard Chartered in connection with the initiative. In addition to supporting the processing of domestic VISA and MasterCard transactions, the solution will also support Standard Chartered’s “Dynamic Currency Conversion” service.
The Planet Payment business was established in 1999. Planet Payment is
headquartered in New York and has offices in Atlanta, the United Kingdom, Singapore and Hong Kong.

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Concardis Extends Acquiring Processing Contract With FDC

First Data announced the extension of a major contract with Germany’s leading merchant acquirer for credit and debit cards. Under the recently signed ConCardis contract, First Data will continue to provide payment processing services in support of the largest acquiring portfolio in Germany. The contract extension comes a few months after First Data completed its acquisition of GZS Gesellschaft für Zahlungssysteme, the leading German processor with whom ConCardis signed the original contract.

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General Purpose Gift Cards Gain Ground in 06

A new survey by the nation’s largest processor has found that single-merchant gift cards are more heavily purchased with an average of 4.7 cards per purchaser. However, general purpose gift cards, averaging 2.6 cards per purchaser, are increasing in popularity as choice and convenience continue to drive the market. The poll, by the TNS Consumer Online Panel for First Data, also found that 78% of American adults purchased or received a gift card in the previous 12 months and 43% did both. In 2005 only 59% of Americans did both according to First Data surveys. On average, American consumers purchased five gift cards in the previous 12 months and spent an average $281 on those cards. Gift card recipients, regardless of whether it was a single- or multi-merchant card, spent an average $39 over the original value of the gift card. Nearly one in four gift card purchasers chose a gift card that could be used at a variety of stores, restaurants and other retailers. Heavy gift card purchasers, those who spend more than $200 per year on single-merchant gift cards, purchased an average of 8.4 gift cards in the previous 12 months. Additionally, purchasers under age 44 are more likely to obtain gift cards from discount stores, while those aged 65+ are more attracted to gift cards from department stores. (CF Library 10/7/04; 10/26/05) (CF Library 10/7/04; 10/26/05)

GIFT CARDS PURCHASED OR RECEIVED
2001: 36%
2002: 41%
2003: 47%
2004: 53%
2005: 59%
2006: 78%
Source: First Data Gift Card Surveys

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Giesecke & Devrient Opens Card Plant in Nitra

Giesecke & Devrient is opening a new card production facility located in the city of Nitra in the Slovak Republic. The plant, which took a year to build and covers nearly 215,000 sq. ft., is one of the largest factories in the world for producing smart cards for the fields of mobile communications, electronic payment, health care, identification, and IT security. Its production capacity currently
runs at more than 250 million card bodies per year, including chip
embedding, with enormous potential for the future. All in all, the
company has invested roughly 20 million euros in the facility, which
employs a staff of nearly 250.

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MasterCard Expands Contactless PayPass in Canada

MasterCard says Toronto’s Rabba Fine Foods will begin accepting “PayPass” at its 30 local stores. “PayPass” is now accepted at nearly 36,000 convenience-focused merchant locations including Petro-Canada and Cineplex Entertainment in Canada and 7-Eleven, McDonald’s, Subway, CVS, and Duane Reade locations in the U.S. PayPass is also accepted in many Major League Baseball and National Football League stadiums, as well as at numerous golf events. As a franchisor, processor and advisor, MasterCard develops and markets payment solutions, processes close to 14 billion payments each year.

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VISA CONTACTLESS

The VISA U.K. Board of Directors this week confirmed plans for the first nationwide roll-out of contactless payment cards across the country, starting in London, by the end of next year. With over 75% of all cash payments being less than GBP 10, the introduction of contactless payments will play a major role in encouraging the use of cards over cash for low value transactions. In addition, the decision to go live in less than a year supports our vision for a cashless Olympic Games in London in 2012. Further details of the precise launch plans are
expected to be available by March of next year.

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