MACATFO Adds the OPC Payment Card Option

The Minnesota Association of County Auditors, Treasurers and Finance Officers has launched a new, centralized online portal where Minnesotans in 19 counties may make secure electronic property tax payments via Official Payments Corp. The portal is being offered by MACATFO to all of Minnesota’s 87 county governments as an easy, fast and cost effective way to begin accepting electronic property tax payments. Through this unique new portal, counties may create their own customized home pages with county-specific tax collection and payment information. The system accepts all real estate and mobile home tax payments.

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Q Comm Intl Delays First Quarter Results

Utah-based Q Comm International has delayed its first quarter report due to a recent upgrade of its accounting infrastructure and software. The Company will file a notice with the SEC under Rule 12b-25 to extend this deadline to file this Form 10-Q on or before May 22, 2006. At a later date, the Company will also announce a conference call to discuss its first quarter financial results. Q Comm International is a prepaid transaction processor.

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Sovereign & Cardtronics Deal Expands in NY

Sovereign Bank and Cardtronics have expanded their existing branding agreement to include an additional 484 ATMs in CVS/pharmacy locations in the New York tri-state area. As with the original agreement, all Sovereign branded ATMs in CVS/pharmacy stores will be surcharge-free to Sovereign Bank customers. Sovereign Bancorp is the parent company of Sovereign Bank, a pro forma $83 billion financial institution.

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Diebold Promotes Two Executives

Diebold has promoted Sandra Edwards to the newly created position of general business manager for the Hawaii region and Vincent Gannon to account manager in Diebold’s strategic accounts group. Edwards is responsible for sales, professional services and all support activities, including service and installation. She joined Diebold in 1997 as a service sales specialist in Memphis, Tenn. She served as a regional sales manager in the Denver, Colo. area for four years. Gannon will oversee sales in Southern California. Gannon joined Diebold in 1999 as a key account executive in Honolulu, where he served as a sales manager in the Hawaii region from 1999 to 2006.

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FTC Tackles ID Theft Prevention Again

The Federal Trade Commission this week launched a nationwide education program to help consumers minimize their risk of becoming a victim of identity theft. The “AvoID Theft: Deter, Detect, Defend” campaign will send education kits to 4,500 victim advocates across the country. Also, the U.S. Social Security Administration will involve its field offices. Other partners include the National Association of Realtors, the American College Personnel Association – College Student Educators International, the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators, the National Crime Prevention Council, the National Apartment Association, and America’s Community Bankers. To-date, the FTC has distributed more than 22 million publications on identity theft.

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DIRECT DEBIT

While the credit card remains the single most important payment method
for UK consumers and for shoppers from outside Europe doing online
purchases, electronic direct debit dominates the payment method in
Germany and the rest of Europe. Last year, direct debit transactions
made up nearly 61% of payments in Germany and 23% in the rest of Europe,
excluding the UK and Non-European countries. According to a new report
from Pago the growth in the percentage of telecommunications
transactions has led to an increase in electronic direct debit
transactions in Germany. Pago found that German consumers still buy
predominantly in German shops while consumers from the rest of Europe
prefer buying from British online merchants and Non-European consumers
use German shops as seldom as German consumers shop at Non-German shops.
Pago also found that male consumers made up 66.71% of online consumers
and females accounted for 33.29%.

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EA/CITI SKYWARD VISA

Emirates Airlines and Citibank have launched a new credit card campaign to entice new applicants with 15,000 miles for signing-up for a “Silver VISA” or 25,000 miles for applying for a “Gold VISA” card. Under the new “Fly Free Campaign,” the initial bonus can be automatically exchanged for free flights. The co-branded credit card is the only
credit card in the UAE that rewards customers with “Skywards Miles” every time the card is used. Customers can earn bonus “Skywards Miles” in addition to the “Skywards Miles” earned on every one U.S. Dollar spent. Recently, Citibank and Emirates Airline introduced “The
Emirates-Citibank Ultima Credit Card,” UAE’s premium black credit card.
Skywards and Citibank launched the “Emirates-Citibank” cobranded credit card in 2000 and recently renewed the agreement for a period of five more years.

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Bank Asya Selects VASCO Digipass 810

Istanbul-based Bank Asya will use VASCO Data Security card-based “Digipass 810” strong authentication to secure its retail- and corporate banking customers for both phone- and e-banking. About 65% of Bank Asya’s money transfer business is generated over the Internet. In addition, the bank receives an average of 200,000 calls per
month for phone banking. The “Digipass 810” functionalities include
EMV-CAP (Europay-Mastercard-Visa Chip Authentication Program).

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ECHO’s Bankcard Q1 Volume Jumps 66%

CA-based Electronic Clearing House reported that revenue for the quarter ending March 31st increased 44% to $19 million. Net income for the quarter was $424,000, versus net income of $144,000 in the year ago quarter. Bankcard and transaction processing revenue grew 49% to $15 million. Bankcard processing volume increased 66% to $464 million. ACH transactions processed increased 19% to 9.1 million. The Company anticipates that net income for the next quarter will remain in the previously disclosed range of $1.5 million to $2.5 million. For complete details on ECHO’s latest performance visit CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]).

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

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Specialty Retailers See Strong Mother’s Day Sales

Debit and credit card spending data from Moneris Solutions shows Canadians
will opt for traditional gifts such as flowers and jewellery for Mother’s
Day this year. The increase in card spending at various merchant
categories from May 2 to 8, 2005 include: florists up 108%, jewellery
stores up 40%, candy stores up 39% and gift, card and novelty stores up
33%. According to Moneris’ spending data from 2005, Mother’s Day is the
second most popular spending period of the year, trailing only Christmas.

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Operating Expense Finally Heads South

Rising interest rates and narrowing margins are not the only issues facing credit card providers in 2006. Operating expense, driven by increased competition, is still running 100 basis points over year ago levels, but may finally be abating. After peaking at 6.04% in February, operating expenses have nudged down by two basis points in March. Operating expense is determined by dividing monthly gross operating expenses by the average managed card outstandings and then annualizing. Operating expense includes such items as credit processing, call center servicing, billing, collections, fraud management, and card issuance. According to CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]), operating expenses stood at 5.00% for March 2005 and settled at 6.02% for March 2006.

OPERATING EXPENSE
Mar 05: 5.00%
Apr 05: 4.97%
May 05: 5.03%
Jun 05: 5.09%
Jul 05: 5.15%
Aug 05: 5.17%
Sep 05: 5.24%
Oct 05: 5.64%
Nov 05: 5.89%
Dec 05: 5.99%
Jan 06: 6.00%
Feb 06: 6.04%
Mar 06: 6.02%
note: Excludes American Express and Discover
Source: CardData (www.carddata.com)

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

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