State Bank of Vietnam Approves VISA

The State Bank of Vietnam has presented VISA International with a license to set up a representative office in the country. Since the first merchant in Vietnam began accepting VISA cards in 1991, annual transaction volume by VISA cardholders visiting the country has
grown to reach US$237 million in 2004. The total number of Visa credit
and debit cards issued in Vietnam reached 62,000 in the same year,
generating US$72 million in transaction volume – a 78% increase over 2003. VISA has launched various initiatives in the last six months to help expand electronic payments in Vietnam.

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Datastrip Selects Shera Technology Terminals

Shera Technology has signed an agreement to provide
manufacturing services to Datastrip Group for its “DSVII” family
of biometric smart card terminals. The “DSVII-SC” terminal is a handheld WindowsCE.NET device specifically designed to provide identity verification by reading contact and contactless chips on identification documents and fingerprints. It supports optional internal wireless communication for data and fingerprint transmission for identity search and verification against a back-end system. Datastrip has recently announced the addition of three new swipe-style models: “DSVII-SW,” “DSVII-PS” and “DSVII-PA.” These new readers add an automatic 600dpi swipe-style scanner. Shera Technology is a China-based, American-run electronic manufacturing service provider located near Shanghai.

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Xinhua Finance to Market FreeStar Technology

Xinhua Finance is working with FreeStar Technology to market FreeStar’s prepaid debit card technology in the China market. FreeStar is looking to establish a joint venture with a major China bank to
distribute pre-paid debit cards as a payment mechanism for the country’s
millions of itinerant workers. FreeStar and its Finland-based subsidiary
Rahaxi Processing Oy, and its Asian partner SDS PaySafe, provide smart
card technology capable of processing all major credit and debit cards,
technology which is still in the early stages of implementation by China’s banks.

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GlobalPlatform Hosts a Business Seminar in April

GlobalPlatform is hosting two business seminars in Beijing and Singapore in April. The GlobalPlatform Beijing Seminar will take place on April 21st and the Singapore Seminar on April 26th. The free, one-day seminars will aim to educate Asian markets on the benefits of adopting GlobalPlatform technology for single and multi-application smart card programs and will present real world examples of successful implementations deployed in the finance, government, mobile telecommunication and health care industries.

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Euronet Signs ATM Agreement with Centurion Bank

Euronet Worldwide announced a multi-year ATM outsourcing and deployment agreement with Centurion Bank. Under the agreement, Centurion Bank will outsource its entire network of 152 ATMs to Euronet India. The company will take over the operation of the bank’s ATMs within the next sixty days and provide end-to-end ATM outsourcing services from its operations center in Mumbai. In addition to ATM outsourcing services, Euronet provides shared ATM networking services to Centurion Bank through its Cashnet network, the largest nationwide multi-lateral shared ATM network in India today comprising nine member banks with more than 3,500 ATMs across the country.

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Consumer Borrowing Rises 10% in 2004

A new study has found that consumer borrowing via credit cards, motor and retail finance deals, overdrafts and unsecured personal loans has risen to GBP 4,004 per average UK adult at the end of 2004. According to Datamonitor, this figure translates into a 10% increase on the previous year’s levels and a 45% increase since 2000. Datamonitor is a business information company specializing in industry analysis.

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HID Names Sullivan to Head EMEA region

Contactless specialist HID has named David Sullivan as managing director of the Europe, Middle East and Africa region, effective March 1st. He succeeds Spencer Hall who is retiring from the company in June of this year. Sullivan previously held the VP of Business Development for HID. HID’s product line includes iCLASS 13.56 MHz contactless smart cards and readers, 125 kHz proximity, magnetic stripe and Wiegand technology cards and readers. The company also provides specialized card manufacturing services including custom pre-printed graphics, micro printing and anti-counterfeiting elements, holograms or ultraviolet ink for increased card security.

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Washington, D.C. Rental Units Accept AmEx Cards

Virginia-based KSI Management, which manages more than 8,000 housing units in the Greater Washington, D.C. area, has signed an agreement to accept American Express cards for rent payments. KSI Management Corporation provides property management and marketing services for its own properties and for third parties on a fee-managed basis. American Express Company is a diversified worldwide travel, financial and network services company founded in 1850.

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New York Community Bank Offers Prepaid Services

New York Community Bank, has teamed with Ingenico and Dallas-based TRANSFIRST to launch a prepaid and stored value services program. New York Community Bank is the primary subsidiary of New York Community Bancorp, Inc. the fourth largest thrift in the nation with assets of $24 billion. TRANSFIRST provides transaction processing for healthcare providers, public entities, online and other non-traditional merchants, as well as brick and mortar retailers. Ingenico is the world’s largest provider of secure payment and transaction systems used by banking, retail, petroleum, transportation, healthcare and governments.

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DEBIT INTERCHANGE

The Reserve Bank’s Payments System Board is recommending that
interchange fees for the EFTPOS and “VISA Debit” payment systems be
slashed by approximately 70%. The bank says the current levels of these
fees are not conducive to the efficiency of the Australian payments
system. If the proposed standards are implemented, the maximum
interchange fee in the EFTPOS system is likely to be around 5 cents paid
to the merchant’s bank. This compares with the current average fee of
around 20 cents. In the “Visa Debit” system, the interchange fee paid to
the cardholder’s bank would fall from an average of around 40 cents, to
a maximum of around 15 cents. The combined effect of these proposed
changes would be to reduce the gap between the two interchange fees from
around 60 cents at present to a maximum of around 20 cents. The EFTPOS
standard would also further reduce the gap between the interchange fees
in the EFTPOS and credit card systems. The Payments System Board also
proposed the removal of the current requirement that merchants accepting
VISA credit cards also have to accept “VISA Debit” cards.

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Australia Exempts AmEx & Diners from Regulation

The Reserve Bank of Australia’s Payments System Board has decided not to regulate American Express and Diners Club, following the issuing of AmEx cards by two banks and the establishment of a partnership between another bank and Diners Club. The RBA said regulation of these payments would have relatively little effect on merchant charges since such charges are largely determined independently of the payment to the partner banks. The RBA also decided not to regulate the totality of payments, including marketing payments, between AmEx and Diners Club and their bank partners. Such regulation would then also be required in the Bankcard, MasterCard and VISA programs. The Bank’s view is that at the current time this form of extensive regulation is not in the public interest. However, AmEx and Diners Club have agreed to reword clauses in their merchant agreements that currently prohibit merchants from encouraging cardholders to use another card and publish their average merchant service fee in Australia on a quarterly basis.

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Intelli-Check Lands a Major Licensing Contract

Integrated Solutions International has purchased more than 1,300 software licenses of Intelli-Check’s proprietary ID-CHECK technology. Intelli-Check, Inc. is the acknowledged leader in technology that assures the authenticity of driver licenses, state issued non-driver and military identification cards used as proof of identity. North Carolina-based Integrated Solutions International, LLC is a leading provider of mobile business solutions.

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