Rewards Network Revenues Dip 16% in Q4

Chicago-based Rewards Network posted a 16% decline in total sales for the fourth quarter to $69 million. Net income for the quarter dropped to $2.1 million compared with net income of $2.5 million for 4Q/04. The Company say the decrease was caused primarily by a lower restaurant merchant count, and declines in the sales yield, the number of qualified transactions, and the average qualified dining transaction amount. The number of restaurants has declined from 10,502 for 4Q/04 to 9,957 at year end 2005. The number of active accounts has dropped from 3.75 million to 3.43 million over the same period. The Company provides airline miles, loyalty/reward program points, and “Cashback Rewards” savings to its members. For complete details on Rewards Network’s latest results visit CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]).

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

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MEKONGBANK AMEX CARD

Phnom Penh-based Cambodia Mekong Bank Public and American Express have launched the first “MekongBank American Express Gold Credit Card” for the Cambodian market. MekongBank will issue AmEx cards in US dollars. The new card will be targeted at the higher end of the market. The American Express Foundation made two recent grants totaling $115,000 to the World Monuments Fund to support preservation and planning initiatives for Phnom Bakheng at Angkor and the Banteay Chhmar Temple of Jayavarman VII. Under terms of the deal, MekongBank will be responsible for all operations in support of the new credit cards, including customer service, marketing, billing and accounting, credit management and charge authorizations. In addition, MekongBank will be responsible for providing services to local merchants accepting American Express Cards and for signing up new merchant partners.

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Motorola Launches the M-Wallet Solution

Motorola has introduced a new service enabling money transfers and POS purchases with mobile phones. The new “M-Wallet” solution is network and device agnostic and works with GSM, CDMA, or iDEN technologies and is compatible with Symbian, PocketPC, Palm, J2ME, Brew and SimTk. The solution consists of two components, a “M-Wallet” application that consumers and merchants download from the Internet and the “Wallet Service Center” which allows the operator to manage administration, registration, issuance of credit and debit cards, coupons, archiving, customer profiles and maintenance. Motorola says its new service will enable merchants to issue virtual loyalty or gift cards directly to their customer’s mobile phone. These cards can be redeemed via a mobile phone or can allow customers to conduct secure point-of-sale transactions, collect loyalty points and obtain store receipts at existing retail merchant locations. “M-Wallet” users must opt-in to receive coupons or other promotional services, allowing them to choose preferred merchants who participate in the program and thereby reducing spam.

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Discover Realigns PULSE Top Executives

Discover Financial Services announced that Stan Paur, who has served as President and CEO of PULSE EFT Association for more than 23 years, will become Chairman of the network effective March 31st. David Schneider, PULSE EVP and Chief Corporate Development Officer, will succeed Paur as President, reporting to Diane Offereins, EVP/CIO of Discover Financial Services. Offereins oversees the operations of PULSE, which Discover Financial Services acquired in January of last year. Schneider has been associated with PULSE for more than 18 years. The PULSE ATM/debit network serves more than 4,100 financial institutions and more than 3.2 million merchant terminals and 250,000 ATMs.

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Austin Logistics Releases ActionSelect

Texas-based Austin Logistics announced the general availability of “ActionSelect,” its collections treatment management solution for all types of consumer debt. ActionSelect reduces the time it takes to accurately predict, optimize, simulate and deploy the most effective treatment strategy for each delinquent account in a company’s portfolio. Austin Logistics is a provider ofpredictive analytic and business intelligence software solutions.

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GPN Approves ExaDigm XD2000 Terminal

ExaDigm’s “XD2000” point-of-sale terminal has received “Class B” certification from Global Payments. The XD2000 can support a range of Global’s payment processing applications, including credit, debit, EBT and purchasing card level II support. This certification allows Global Payments to offer fast, reliable, secure transactions to its merchant customers utilizing Internet Protocol (IP) connections. ExaDigm is a provider of IP wireless, wired and modular point-of-sale (POS) terminal solutions. Global Payments is a provider of electronic transaction processing services.

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Finance Charges Rebound During December

Yield, which consists primarily of cardholder finance charges, among asset-backed securities, increased by 40 basis points to 18.4% during December, compared to the prior month and up 60 basis points compared to one-year ago. The higher yield in a higher interest rate environment is driven primarily by punitive interest rate polices. On a comparative basis, December’s yield of 18.4% is on par with the 2005 average yield, also 18.4%, and is 80 bps higher than the 2004 average of 17.6%. According to Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services’ “Bank Card Credit Card Quality Index,” charge-offs declined slightly to 7% in December but remain artificially high due to the rise in bankruptcy filings in early October. S&P also reports that after three consecutive months of decline, the payment rate rose 90 bps to 19.7% in December from 18.9% in November, with more than three-fourths of the trusts reporting increases.

ABS YIELD DECEMBER HISTORICAL
2000: 19.9%
2001: 19.1%
2002: 18.2%
2003: 17.8%
2004: 17.8%
2005: 18.4%
Source: Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services

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IRS Opens Business Tax Payments via Cards

The IRS has determined that the convenience fee paid or incurred by a business making a tax payment with a credit card can be deducted as a business expense. The decision will help expand business tax payments via credit card. This year, the IRS has also expanded the tax types eligible for electronic payment. Businesses may now make federal tax payments with American Express, Discover, MasterCard and VISA cards for Form 940 and Form 941 payments via Official Payments Corp. OPC says the IRS now joins 20 states and the District of Columbia in accepting payments for business taxes and other related business payments.

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Fidelity National to Offer OPC STV VISAs

Jacksonville, FL-based Fidelity National Information Services, f/k/a/ Certegy, has signed a three-year exclusive agreement with Official Payments Corp. to issue VISA prepaid debit cards. Under the terms of the agreement, Certegy will provide Official Payments with Visa-branded prepaid debit products as part of an initiative to convert government disbursements to electronic prepaid card solutions. The relationship will initially focus on the conversion of child support disbursements, expanding to include additional prepaid debit programs in the future. This payment program will allow recipients to receive their child support payments faster, with no-cost access to their funds. Fidelity National Information Services is a provider of core processing for financial institutions. Official Payments provides financial transaction processing services.

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Lipman’s Q4 Revenues Rise 27% Sequentially

Terminal manufacturer Lipman Electronic Engineering reported fourth quarter revenues of $68.8 million, an increase of 5% over the prior year and a 27% increase over the prior quarter. During the quarter Lipman launched the “NURIT 8210” multi-application integrated POS terminal, developed jointly with Yapi Kredi Bank in Turkey, which placed an order for 35,000 terminals. Lipman also had follow-on orders totaling $6 million from banks in India for the “NURIT 8320” landline POS terminal. In Mexico there was an initial order valued at $2.2 million for Lipman’s “Dione Secura” PIN Entry Device from a major bank. Additionally an initial order valued at $3 million was placed for Lipman’s “Dione Secura” PIN Pads and “Xpress” card readers from retailers in Germany. For complete details on Lipman’s fourth quarter performance, visit CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]).

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

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