China UnionPay Inks More ATM/POS Deals

China’s only national payment network China UnionPay has signed three more deals to expand international acceptance. On Friday, JCB signed an ATM gateway agreement after inking deals earlier in the week with Europe’s EUFISERV and Japan’s Sumitomo Mitsui credit card unit. The JCB deal will give CUP cardholders access to ATM networks in Japan. According to CardFlash International, the acceptance will begin with the UFJ Bank ATM network of more than 6,000 ATMs in March 2006 and then it will be expanded to Japan Post which will open its network of 26,000 ATMs to CUP cards starting in May 2006. The EUFISERV deal will give CUP cardholders access to ATMs in Germany, France, Spain, Belgium and Luxemburg. Sumitomo Mitsui also inked a deal to migrate its 3 million POS terminals in Japan to CUP acceptance. In September, China UnionPay formally signed an agreement with Citibank for global ATM acceptance. In May, China UnionPay sealed a deal with Discover Financial Services to facilitate POS and ATM acceptance of CUP cards in the USA. (CF International Library 5/26/05; 9/16/05)

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ZAMBONI MC ADS

MasterCard Canada has launched the first TV ad in a series
of new “Priceless” television focusing on professional hockey. The new
“Zamboni” series follows a boy named Drew and his career with the NHL. The
first ad aired last weekend and the fourth ad will air at the beginning
of the playoffs. The new ads were directed by Bennett Miller of Capote
fame and stars Tim Dorsch as adult Drew, with creative done by McCann
Erickson and French adaptation by Marketel. The ads also feature a
re-recording of the song “I Wanna Drive a Zamboni” by the Gear Daddies.
MasterCard says it will support the new ads with print advertising, an
online component and a marketing promotion. To date, 372 MasterCard
“Priceless” commercials have been produced with ads now seen in 106
countries and 49 languages.

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Fiserv EFT and Alaska Option Deploy CardAlert

Fair Isaac has signed deals with Fiserv EFT and Alaska Option Network to utilize its “CardAlert Fraud Manager. The agreement with Fiserv EFT builds on an existing relationship. Through its ACCEL/Exchange Network, Fiserv EFT offers CardAlert Fraud Manager as an add-on service, providing card issuers with an improved ability to minimize fraud losses through real-time detection of fraudulent card transactions. The payments services provider already provides Fair Isaac’s market-leading payment card fraud detection system, Falcon Fraud Manager, as part of its processing services. Alaska Option Network is a full-service electronic funds transfer network. Fiserv EFT provides ATM and debit services to over 2,800 financial institutions across the United States.

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Carded QSR May Top $37 Billion for 2005

Based on figures for the holiday season thus far, Americans may charge more than $37.0 billion worth of fast food to their credit and debit cards this year, compared to $22.5 billion one-year ago. VISA’s latest “SpendTrak” report shows consumers are charging $430 million per week at quick service restaurants on its cards or about 62% higher than the same week last year. The figures reflect growing consumer and merchant acceptance of carding small ticket purchases. VISA says QSR merchants are experiencing tremendous growth in terms of revenue and efficiency as a result of accepting plastic. The average QSR credit card ticket, based on the most recent VISA data for the week ending December 4th, is $10.75. Americans spend about $150 billion per year in quick service restaurants.

QSR ON PLASTIC HISTORICAL
2000: $ 1.7 billion
2001: $ 3.7 billion
2002: $ 6.1 billion
2003: $12.9 billion
2004: $22.5 billion
2005: $37.0 billion
Source: CardData (www.carddata.com)

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Sub-Prime Card Portfolios Face an Ugly 2006

A new report by FitchRatings suggests that the health of the sub-prime consumer remains a particular area of concern in the credit card ABS arena for 2006. Fitch’s rating definitions and the terms of use of such ratings are available on the agency’s public site, ‘www.fitchratings.com’. Published ratings, criteria and methodologies are available from this site.

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MBNA and Merrill Lynch Extend Co-Branded Program

MBNA and Merrill Lynch extended their multi-year agreement for the co-branded “MERRILL+” general purpose credit card program beyond the MBNA and BofA merger. MBNA has issued the MERRILL+ card since April 2004. The MERRILL+ credit card offers a wide range of features and rewards, and a tiered benefit program that provides increasingly valuable perks and benefits the more cardholders use the card. As spending on the card increases, cardholders are automatically elevated to new benefit levels. The features, benefits and rewards of the MERRILL+ card were among the reasons it was recognized by Card Track as one of the top ten most innovative card products of 2004.

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GPN Adds Eleven VIP LightSpeed Casino Clients

Atlanta-based Global Payments has signed eleven more U.S. casinos for its “VIP LightSpeed” suite of cash access products which includes “VIP Preferred” check-cashing services, “PlayerCash @dvantage” credit and debit card cash advance services, and the recently-launched ATM “Cash @dvantage” product. VIP LightSpeed is an Internet-accessible, PC-based platform that provides cash access services for traditional and electronic check cashing, ATM check cashing, credit and debit card cash advances, player histories and credit reports and provides management reporting tools that speed the processing of transactions and reduce the risk associated with check-cashing and cash advance services. Global Payments is a provider of electronic transaction processing services.

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Carte Bleue Rushes a Gift Card to Market

Carte Bleue has launched a pilot for the first prepaid EMV gift cards for the consumer market in France, according to yesterday’s issue of CardFlash International. Le Credit Lyonnais is the first bank to join the pilot and Axalto has been selected as the card supplier. Axalto is also the only provider of the related personalization services. Customers can purchase the cards from a bank branch and select from a wide range of designs and customization. The gift-wrapped and personalized cards are then sent with a greeting message to recipients on the date requested by the giver. The cards are valid for one year. The program was launched under a tight deadline to capture the holiday shopping season for 2005.

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ACE is the Place for Unbanked Americans

Dallas-based ACE Cash Express reports it has now opened its 1500th retail location. During the last eighteen months ACE has increased its store base over 22%. The explosion in the alternative banking market has been driven by the demands of nearly 20 million unbanked American households. The Company provides check cashing, short-term consumer loans and bill payment services. During the third calendar quarter, ACE posted net income of $2.9 million. ACE’s total revenue increased 7% for the quarter to $66.2 million, due primarily to a 12% increase in bill payment services, a 9% increase in loan fees and interest and a 5% increase in check cashing fees. For complete details on ACE’s latest performance, visit CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]).

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

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DRFS Inks a Deal to Drive More Direct2Own Sales

Los Angeles-based Hispanic debit card specialist Direct Response Financial Services has partnered with PartnerCentric.com to drive more sales to DRFS’ Direct2Own unit which enables individuals with no credit or bad credit to purchase personal electronic items. Direct2Own also functions as a platform to sell debit cards. Customers will have the opportunity to acquire a Direct Card Services DCS Media Card MasterCard, which will enable them to make timely payments for purchased products. Direct2Own will also offer a credit building service to customers on a monthly subscription basis. Direct Response Financial Services provides financial, technology and marketing solutions, serving unbanked and under-banked consumers.

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FDC Takes a Q4 Charge for Card Issuing Unit

First Data this morning announced it will take a restructuring charge in the fourth quarter primarily related to its Card Issuing Services segment. As a result of the restructuring charge, the Company now expects earnings per share for 2005 to be below the previously stated range of $2.14 to $2.16. FDC says it will take a charge of approximately $0.05 per share related to a reduction of about 3% of its workforce. FDC announced in early November it is considering the jettison of its U.S. credit card issuing business. The unit has been a drag on growth rates for the entire company. During the third quarter, Card Issuing Services reported revenue of $594 million and operating profit of $116 million, down 4% and 25% respectively. Since the announcement, the Company has changed CEOs and hired back a former top executive for the Card Issuing Services unit. (CF Library 11/9/05; 11/28/05; 12/12/05)

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