ECHO Names a New CIO

Electronic Clearing House has hired William Wied, formerly with AZ-based TransCore LP/Roper Industries, as CIO. Wied’s background includes nearly 15 years of increasing responsibility in the areas of design, development and deployment of enterprise software solutions in a number of different industries including semiconductor, telecommunications, retail and transportation logistics. Wied has a number of publications and patents to his credit. ECHO provides payment processing solutions.

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Gift Cards Drive Full-Priced Sales

Deloitte Research says the holiday season was a positive one for retailers but consumers were smarter this year, waiting until after Christmas to do much of their shopping at discounted prices. The Deloitte monthly index shows that the slower pace reflects softening housing prices, rising tax burdens and real wages below last year’s levels. Deloitte says its research shows that gift cards are frequently used to buy full-price merchandise and that consumers often spend more than the dollar value of their gift cards. Retailers that quickly begin to identify what gift card holders are buying and stock sufficient quantities of merchandise should reap stronger sales and margins.

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TSYS Q4 Profits Rise 16% Driven by Chase

TSYS reported that fourth quarter profits rose 16% year-on-year to nearly $50 million but $1.3 million below the third quarter. Revenues for the fourth quarter increased 37% to $420.7 million, compared to 4Q/04. Accounts on file increased to 437.9 million as of December 31st, up 22% from one-year ago. TSYS also reports that stored value accounts rose 20% to 14.3 million. During the fourth quarter, TSYS expanded its global reach into China with a 34% equity interest in China UnionPay Data; extended processing relationships with Allied Irish Banks of Dublin, Ireland and Metavante of Milwaukee; executed a long-term agreement with Toronto-Dominion Bank to provide a range of processing and support services for its consumer and commercial credit-card accounts and established TSYS Managed Services by integrating contact centers and customer-servicing operations of several subsidiary companies into a single special business unit. For complete details on TSYS fourth quarter performance, visit CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]).

TSYS REVENUE HISTORICAL
4Q/04: $307.2 million
1Q/05: $350.0 million
2Q/05: $410.2 million
3Q/05: $422.0 million
4Q/05: $420.7 million
Source: CardData (www.carddata.com)

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

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Chase Home Improvement Rewards Card Launched

Reader’s Digest Association and Chase have launched the “Chase Home Improvement Rewards” card. Cardholders earn three points for every dollar spent on home improvement purchases and one point for every dollar spent on all other card purchases. Every time cardholders accumulate 2,500 points, they can redeem them for a $25 gift card to be used at electronic stores, home improvement stores and other leading retailers. Reader’s Digest has 40 million readers in the United States. The magazine is sold in 60 countries and published in 49 editions and 20 languages around the world.

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GECF Joins the AmEx U.S. Issuing Fold

GE Consumer Finance and American Express announced a card issuing deal in the US. The first product to be offered under the new agreement will be a “Dillard’s American Express” card, with more AmEx co-brand cards expected to follow. Under the terms of the agreement, GECF will be responsible for issuing the cards, managing the customer relationships and providing customer service, billing and credit management. GECF is the seventh U.S. partner for American Express. AmEx has now established nearly 100 card-issuing partnership arrangements in close to 110 countries.

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EMG and Hypercom Launch the Eliot 1000 Terminal

Salt Lake City-based EMG and Hypercom has launched a private-branded terminal, “Eliot 1000,” which offers automated self-diagnostics and service call-home capabilities, and multi-product processing load ability. The proprietary credit card processing terminal contains numerous software features that include enhanced security functions, automated self-diagnostics and service “call-home” capabilities, and multi-product processing load ability. Eliot Management Group provides credit card processing service to over 14,000 businesses across the United States.

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43% of Canadians Carry a $1711 Credit Card Balance

According to a survey sponsored by Mackenzie
Investments, an average Canadian makes $100 cash last four days, however
nearly one quarter (23%) can’t even make it 48 hours. Over two thirds
(67%) also admit that spending money makes them happy or gives them a
rush, and when it comes to investing, 42% of Canadians say they have
never stopped themselves from buying something they wanted so they could
invest the money instead. The average Canadian is burning through $760
per month – money that could be invested, saved or used to reduce debt.
Other findings include; 62% of Canadians under 45 have invested in
lieu of spending, compared to 50% of those 45 or older. 80% of
Canadians said they own a credit card. Of those, 43% said they carry a
balance. Of those who carry a balance, the average amount is $1,710.80
and men and women equally shoulder the blame when it comes to who spends
the most money in their household. Mackenzie Financial Corporation has
$49.9 billion in assets under management and provides investment
management and related services to over one million Canadian investors
and over 30,000 financial advisers.

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PhotoChannel and Visions Electronics Launch Prepaid

PhotoChannel Networks and Visions Electronics have launched
www.photosdirect2u.ca, a prepaid card driven online photo service
designed to expand Visions’ product offering and to provide a base for
ongoing marketing, customer loyalty and e-commerce programs. The prepaid
cards will be activated using InComm’s “Point of Sale Activation”
platform. Credit cards can also be used for payment on the
website. PhotoChannel operates PNI Digital Media to provide
services for major retailers, wireless carriers and content providers.
Visions Electronics has 25 retail locations across Western Canada.

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Wakefern Food Tests VeriFone’s VisualPayments

VeriFone Holdings announced that Wakefern Food Corporation is implementing a pilot of the VeriFone VisualPayments Signature Solutions software. Wakefern is the distribution arm of ShopRite supermarkets, which has stores located in five states serving 4 million customers each week. Wakefern is completing implementation of the VeriFone Omni 7000MPD customer-facing payment system in more than 4,000 checkout lanes. VisualPayments Signature Solutions includes a web-based user interface for retrieving signature transaction files, optional reporting and auditing of disputes, and a streamlined dispute resolution process to speed chargeback investigations. The Omni 7000MPD was the payment industry’s first modular payment device, supporting debit, credit, signature capture, smart cards, contactless, and USB and Ethernet connectivity. VeriFone Holdings provides secure electronic payment technologies.

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Pay By Touch Completes the BioPay Acquisition

San Francisco-based Pay By Touch has completed the acquisition of BioPay for $82 million in stock and cash. Under the terms of the deal, Pay by Touch will acquire and assume responsibility for all of the BioPay, LLC assets, including its patent portfolio, as well as its retail customers and enrolled members. BioPay is a biometric services provider with more than two million enrolled consumers that has authorized more than $7 billion in biometrically-authenticated transactions. Pay By Touch has signed agreements to implement biometric payment systems in two of the top five U.S. grocers, supplies loyalty solutions to 55 of the top 100 national retailers, and provides payment solutions to more than 125,000 merchants.

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Arthur Blank Offers Corn-Based Card Products

Boston-based Arthur Blank has introduced a corn-based plastic card that uses corn, an annually renewable and domestically grown resource as an alternative to traditional petroleum-based plastic cards. “CornCard USA,” manufactured from NatureWorks PLA, is available in nearly the entire line of Arthur Blank’s product offerings including: gift, loyalty, debit, membership, and ID cards. Arthur Blank says the new card is identical to traditional plastic cards in look, feel, and durability while offering the same reliability and functionality. The company notes that if you compare bushels of corn to barrels of oil over the past 5 years, crude oil prices have skyrocketed, while U.S. corn supplies and prices have remained relatively constant.

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CHOHUNG JCB CARD

Chohung Bank has introduced the “Chohung 365 BC JCB Card” EMV card. This is the first full-scale launch of a JCB smart card in Korea. The new card offers “BC” miles redeemable for tickets on all airlines in Korea, the “Korea Train eXpress” mileage program, and the “OK cashback” program, which is a major loyalty program affiliated with many national chain stores. A significant advantage is that “Chohung 365 BC JCB” cardholders can choose to have the “T-money” function incorporated into the IC chip, which enables them to use a postpaid “T-money” service on subways and buses in Seoul and other local districts. “T-money” function can also be used to pay admission at amusement parks and other spectator facilities, as well as parking fees. Other benefits include discounts offered at nationwide SK gas stations, major cinemas, hotel discounts of 20 to 50% off, and airline discounts from 5 to 7% off, while purchases of foreign currency receive a 30% discount on the exchange commission at Chohung Bank.

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