FireOne Complies with the Gambling Act

Montreal-based Optimal Group says its majority-owned FireOne Group has ceased to process settlement for transactions originating from U.S. consumers that may be viewed as related to online gambling. FireOne Group also announced that as a consequence of the anticipated significant negative impact on its business and results of operations, it has embarked upon a restructuring of its operations and cost base. FireOne Group further stated that it will continue to offer its multi-currency credit and debit card and FirePay electronic wallet processing to the online gambling industry originating from non-U.S. consumers and not prohibited by the Act, and will consider card-not-present payment processing opportunities outside of online gambling.

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First Data is Off Rating Watch Negative

Fitch Ratings has affirmed and removed First Data from “Rating Watch Negative” following the completed spin-off of The Western Union Company. Due to First Data’s significant size and market position, Fitch expects that the company will continue to benefit from economies of scale. First Data’s growth strategy has historically been focused on a combination of acquisitions and organic growth, and Fitch believes this will continue to be the case. Fitch’s rating definitions and the terms of use of such ratings are available on the agency’s public site, www.fitchratings.com.

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CMB and AirPlus to Launch a New Corporate Card

China Merchants Bank and AirPlus have signed a corporate agreement to offer a new corporate card. The product will be released this month. The new corporate card is based on the “CMB Gold Card” and carries enhanced functionalities. Billing and settlement currencies are both the Chinese Yuan and the U.S. Dollar – local transactions are billed and settled in CNY/RMB, international transactions are billed in USD, and can be settled either in CNY/RMB or USD. The corporate card can be used to access funds at ATMs within China as well as abroad.
Additionally, China Merchants Bank will offer a customer loyalty
program, tailored specifically to the needs of the business traveler.

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Cubic Wins a Frost & Sullivan Award

Frost & Sullivan has selected Cubic Transportation Systems as the recipient of the “2006 Industry Innovation & Advancement of the Year Award” in the smart card mass transit market. Cubic Transportation Systems (Cubic) is a turnkey solution provider for the automated fare collection system used in public transit systems including bus, rail, ferry, and even ticketing for parking applications. Its ability to translate customer requirements into innovative and reliable solutions that are both convenient and state-of-the-art has translated into a large customer base of operators who count on Cubic to provide regular technology upgrades that keep their mass transit systems operating in the most efficient manner.

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Global Card Marketing Slows to 11.5% Y/Y

For the eighth consecutive year, the North American Region leads the world in the total number of cards manufactured but Europe continues to be the most lucrative market as measured in dollars. The “Annual Card Manufacturing Global Market Survey” by the International Card Manufacturers Association found that globally there were approximately 14.7 billion cards manufactured last year, an 11.4% gain over 2004. The global card marketing measure in U.S. dollars increased 11.5% to $9.1 billion, compared to a 33% growth rate the prior year. The ICMA survey also found that chip card units grew robustly to 2.6 billion units for a 13.5% increase, while dollars grew to $7.45 billion, influenced by transit card growth, national IDs and EMV migration.

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Fundtech Introduces Pan-European PAYplus

Fundtech has introduced “Pan-European PAYplus,” a new application component of its “Global PAYplus” payments solution. The new solution will help banks to meet the upcoming processing demands of the “SEPA” and “Target 2.” “Pan-European PAYplus” takes full advantage of the “Global PAYplus” multi-entity rules-engine which increases “STP” and
provides flexible charging schemes to address the complexities that “SEPA” imposes. Key “Pan-European PAYplus” features include processing for: “SEPA Direct Debit” and “Direct Credit” payments and “Directory Services,” “Target 2” payments via “SWIFT,” “STEP 2 ACH” batched payments, and “Target 2” related liquidity management.

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ViVOwallet and Obopay to Integrate in 07

Contactless specialist, ViVOtech, has teamed with mobile payment specialist, Obopay, to expand NFC mobile phone payment options. Under the deal Obopay users will have access to the “ViVOwallet” to pay for retail goods by waving their NFC mobile devices in front of the more than 160,000 retail outlets equipped with a ViVOtech POS device. The companies plan to offer “ViVOwallet” and Obopay as a single integrated application in 2007. Obopay accounts can be managed from the mobile handset, allowing users to check balances, request payments from other mobile users and view transaction histories. The service also allows e-commerce sites to accept payments directly from Obopay accounts, eliminating the awkward process of inputting credit card information.

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ICMA SURVEY

For the eighth consecutive year, the North American Region leads the world in the total number of cards manufactured but Europe continues to be the most lucrative market as measured in dollars. The “Annual Card Manufacturing Global Market Survey” by the International Card Manufacturers Association found that globally there were approximately 14.7 billion cards manufactured last year, an 11.4% gain over 2004. The global card marketing measure in U.S. dollars increased 11.5% to $9.1 billion, compared to 33% growth rate the prior year. The ICMA survey also found that chip card units grew robustly to 2.6 billion units for a 13.5% increase, while dollars grew to $7.45 billion, influenced by transit card growth, national IDs and EMV migration.

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Economic Indicators Show No Recession

The Conference Board released an analysis today that shows that economic indicators are pointing to slow growth ahead in the U.S., but not a recession. The CB says the challenge for both the Federal Reserve Board and the U.S. economy is that this period of sub-par growth is likely to have little impact on inflation and short-term interest rates. One of the biggest disconnects in the U.S. economy has been between the rapid growth in the capital goods and manufacturing sectors and the systemic weakness of the consumer sector. Meanwhile, corporate profitability is making stunning gains. Over the past three months, The Conference Board index of leading economic indicators has turned down relative to its level six months ago for the first time in this expansion.

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Keycorp Acquires Optimal Services Group for A$3 MM

Keycorp has acquired Montreal-based Optimal Services Group for A$3 million. OSG is currently the largest service provider to the payments and point of sale industry in Canada, and provides services to leading payment processors and major retailers in that market. The business is similar in nature to Keycorp’s EFTPOS Engineering (Customer Service) business in Australia, however has the additional capability of providing enterprise wide point of sale systems support for major retailers. The total business in Canada, after the acquisition of OSG, will generate around A$35 million in revenue for the current financial year and approximately A$50 million in financial year 2008.

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Slide Show on Universal Default Offered

San Diego-based Institute of Consumer Financial Education is making available on-line, a free 26-slide “PowerPoint” presentation, designed to help explain universal default and what happens when a creditor invokes the clause against a borrower. The ICFE’s free online PowerPoint Show explains how universal default works, show examples of its wording in credit card agreements and provides some interesting facts and figures about the institutions which apply it to their delinquent accounts. For instance, more than one-third of major credit card issuers now say they act on these clauses regularly. A recent survey found that a staggering 44 percent of credit card issuers said they apply the rule to customers, even if they had no late payments on their own card.

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