i2c and Terminal Velocity Processing Team

i2c has signed a processing agreement with Terminal Velocity Processing which specializes in payment processing solutions and management, predominantly in the “Card Not Present” market. The i2c application interface and back office engine gives TVP a fast, reliable, and scalable entry point into the rapidly growing pre-paid debit card industry. Terminal Velocity Processing, incorporated in 2003, specializes in payment processing for the Card Not Present merchant: mail order/telephone order (MO/TO) and internet. i2c is a leading, global technology provider of electronic payment processing solutions.

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Ecount Teams with Advertising Checking Bureau

PA-based Ecount has teamed with the Advertising Checking Bureau which services more than 200 of the top manufacturers with an extended suite of Web-based offerings, providing a total solution from planning, payment and reporting for their client’s channel partner needs. ACB’s partnership with Ecount enhances their product offerings by expanding their services to include Visa debit card solutions, extending beyond cash and premium alternatives. Ecount provides customized prepaid programs for corporations looking for a simple and convenient way to deliver electronic payments. ACB remains uniquely qualified to support the Spiff, Rebate, Incentive, and Trade Promotion Marketing needs of manufacturers.

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LINK Separates its ATM Network

LINK announced it has separated its ATM network from its infrastructure. LINK’s plans were endorsed in an OFT-chaired Working Group earlier this year and the reforms deliver on recommendations made by the OFT Payment Systems Task Force. Over the past decade LINK’s activities have diversified to include: the provision through mobile phones of banking services; mobile phone top-ups at cash machines;
providing solutions for payments processing, ATM acquiring and card
issuing through its outsourcing division, Avantra; and enabling free-of-charge cash withdrawals over Post Office counters. The LINK program has 49 members, while the infrastructure company has
22 owners. LINK enables cardholders to withdraw cash and obtain
balance information from all but a handful of the 59,000 ATMs in the
U.K.

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U.S. Bank Boosts it Check Card Rewards

U.S. Bank debit card customers enrolled in the “Checking That Pays Cash Bonus Check Card” reward program will now earn an even bigger cash reward automatically at select retailers, up to a 25% cash reward or more when they make non-PIN purchases using their card at more than 120 select national retailers. The new reward is on top of the quarter-percent cash reward currently earned on all signature transactions. All earned “Premium Rewards” are automatically credited to the customer’s “Cash Bonus” reward account by the first of each month. Customers can redeem their cash reward on demand after $5 has been accrued. “Premium Rewards” is an enhancement to the “Cash Bonus Check Card” reward program and is available to both consumer and business customers.

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Experian’s Vision 2006 Conference Booked

Experian reports that its annual conference has been booked to capacity. The third annual “Vision 2006 Conference” will include guest speakers and industry experts on subjects including scoring technology, risk management, fraud prevention, collections, portfolio management, database management and legislative issues. More than 40 breakout sessions on topics ranging from risk management to strategy optimization also will be offered. General sessions this year will feature best-selling business author Malcolm Gladwell; the president of Radnor International Consulting, and Lawrence Chimerine; and management expert and best-selling author Marcus Buckingham.

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AmEx Launches a SkyMiles/SkyPoints Promo

American Express has launched a nationwide promotion that will boost “Delta SkyMiles” and “SkyPoints” credit cardholders with 25% more miles or points on virtually all purchases made from October 1st through November 30th. Cardholders must enroll online or via telephone. Year round, “Delta SkyMiles Credit” cardholders earn two miles and “SkyPoints Credit” cardholders earn two points for every eligible dollar charged to the card for purchases at stand-alone supermarkets, gas stations, drugstores, the U.S. Postal Service, wireless phone bills and Delta Air Lines. During non-promotional periods, cardholders earn one mile or one point for every eligible dollar charged for other purchases.

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Plastic Jungle Untangles Gift Card Exchange

A Fresno, CA-based firm has launched a new Web site to give consumers an place to sell unused gift cards directly for cash, trade them for cards from somewhere else, or donate them to charity. Plastic Jungle charges a flat fee of $3.99 for each gift card listed, regardless of value. Sellers can sell their cards instantly to Plastic Jungle for cash, usually 65-75% of the card’s value. For $1 more, users can list their cards as “Featured.” One of Plastic Jungle’s unique features is its instant card trader. Users indicate which gift card they want to exchange theirs for, and the site searches its database to look for an instant match. If one is found, the trade is completed. If no match is found right away, the site keeps the request and does a twice-daily database sweep for 90 days.

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Payment Rates Edge Down; Stay Above 20%

Monthly payment rates, the amount that cardholders pay on their credit card debt, continues to hover at record levels. Year to date, the monthly payment rate has averaged 20.40%, running over 250 basis points from one-year ago. However, payment rates, among asset-backed credit card bonds, were 20.24% in August, down 47 basis points from the prior month. According to FitchRatings, payment rates within the industry have remained fairly robust but, with rising interest rates and a soft housing market it is quite plausible that payment rates might slow down in the coming year. Meanwhile, yield increased 23 basis points to 17.86% and is four bps below year-ago levels.

ABS METRICS
YIELD MPR
Mar 06: 17.91% 19.10%
Apr 06: 18.81% 21.74%
May 06: 17.61% 19.14%
Jun 06: 17.97% 21.00%
Jul 06: 17.63% 20.71%
Aug 06: 17.86% 20.24%
Source: FitchRatings

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Holiday Sales May Only Rise 2.5% in 06

The declining housing market and growing interest rates could lead to the lowest holiday retail sales increase since 2001. A new study by Archstone Consulting projects holiday retail sales to increase 2.5% over 2005. The National Retail Federation projects holiday retail sales to rise 5% increase over last year. Archstone expects that hardware and building materials retailers will be one of the hardest hit retail sectors this year, with August housing starts down 6% to the lowest rate in more than three years, and new home construction down almost 20% from last year. Archstone also predicts that the popularity of gift cards will continue this holiday season, but will not be recognized until the first quarter. While these cards are lucrative sales alternatives for retailers (34% – 55% of consumers spend more at redemption than the value of their gift cards4 ), the “gift card effect” actually softens holiday sales as the cards’ revenues are recognized at redemption, not at the point of sale. In fact, Archstone Consulting attributes the strong performance of retailers in the first half of 2006 to the popularity of gift cards in “Holiday 2005,” and expects the trend to continue in the first quarter of 2007.

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NWA WorldPerks VISA Offers More Muscle

U.S. Bank and Northwest Airlines have teamed to offer a new suite of benefits that allow “WorldPerks VISA” cardholders greater flexibility effective this month. The cards, which are available as a “VISA Signature,” “Platinum” or “Business,” will now allow card members to redeem up to two award tickets a year for as little as 19,000 miles each. These 6,000-mile per ticket discounts are valid any day on any domestic “PerkSaver” or “PerkPass” award seat. “WorldPerks VISA Signature” cardholders will also have the ability to redeem 10,000 WorldPerks miles for a $100 off travel on Northwest Airlines. “WorldPerks VISA Signature” and “Business” card members will also receive a free day on a three-day weekend rental from National Car Rental for any vehicle up to full size, and all WorldPerks Visa card members will receive complimentary membership in Nationalâ™s Emerald Club program. Additionally, “WorldPerks VISA” cardholders will receive a $300 Northwest Airlines travel certificate for any new or refinanced home mortgage from U.S. Bank.

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RD Card to Acquire Retail Decisions

UK-based Retail Decisions has agreed to a $314 million cash offer from RD Card, a private equity investment firm. ReD operates in Europe, the USA, Australia and South Africa. The firm posted $69.6 million in revenues for 2005 compared to $40.4 million for 2004. ReD’s fuel card operation is the largest multi-branded card business in Australia accepted at nearly all of the 6,500 fuel stations throughout the country and at around 8,250 other outlets that provide services for business drivers. In the UK and Europe, ReD’s fuel card business, known as “ReD Fuel Cards,” is the UK’s second largest operator in the independent fuel card market with over 65,000 cards in issue and around 6,300 live customer accounts. In December, ReD acquired E Com, Australia’s largest pre-paid card operator. For more details on ReD’s latest results, visit CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]).

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

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Fast Track Payment Security Review Unveiled

CyberSource has introduced “Fast Track Payment Security Review,” a one week, on-site review covering 75 aspects of a merchant’s payment security environment. Fast Track reviews sales channel and payment data flows, including system and human touch points. It examines storage systems and policies, human processes and procedures, network and system security, payment application security, vendor relationships, and security merchandising. All findings and recommendations are published in a detailed report. CyberSource Corporation is a leading provider of electronic payment and risk management solutions.

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