AmEx Relaunches Blue Online Auctions

American Express re-launched its real-time, online auction that allows “Blue” cardholders to bid for once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Through the “Blue PLAY” site, “Blue” AmEx cardholders, who are enrolled in the “Membership Rewards” program, can use their points, rather than money, to bid on experiences — from front-row tickets to a premiere fashion show, to flag-to-flag excitement at the motor raceway, to romantic vacation packages and exclusive shopping extravaganzas. There is no fee to bid, and points are deducted from the winner’s rewards account after the close of an auction. Upcoming “Blue PLAY” auctions include two tickets to next month’s TOYOTA “Indy 300,” with private tours of the garage and pit areas at the Homestead-Miami Speedway, and a ride in the pace car on race day. Another auction is for five nights in New York City with all-access entry into star-studded film premieres and exclusive parties. According to a “Blue PLAY” survey, 40% of adults have bid at least once for merchandise or experiences through an auction, with nearly three-quarters of those bidders having won an auction.

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First Data to Use StorageTek Technology

First Data is using StorageTek’s “Virtual Storage Manager” and “Fibre Channel Connectivity” technology to speed up transaction processing and to substantially reduce floor space through equipment consolidation in its data centers. The VSM 4 system will allow First Data to process more transactions faster on behalf of its 1,400 card issuing clients, representing more than 406 million card accounts on file. First Data Corp. with global headquarters in Denver, helps power the global economy. StorageTek is a $2 billion global company that enables businesses, through its information lifecycle management strategy, to align the cost of storage with the value of information.

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Gemplus’ Financial Card Revenues Up 29% Y/Y

Gemplus reported shipments of 51 million payment microprocessor
cards last year, with revenue up 29% year-on-year. Overall, Gemplus reported revenues in 2004 of euros 865 million, a 16% gain, with net income of euros 4.7 million. During 2003, Gemplus lost euros 161 million. Financial Services revenue was driven by the EMV migration, with a massive roll-out in the UK and ramp-up in France, Turkey, Mexico, South America and Malaysia. On a geographical basis, revenue from the Americas was up 47.9% and Asia 21.9%, currency adjusted, both driven by the Wireless segment. The EMEA region was up 8.3%, led by Financial Services and, to a lesser extent, Wireless. For complete details on Gemplus’ latest results visit CardData (www.carddata.com).

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$125K Earners Give Loyalty for Rewards

Seventy percent of high-income earners are more loyal to companies that offer rewards programs. When it comes to redeeming those rewards, more high-income earners prefer to receive cash back (70%), than free travel (62%). Half have “re-gifted” their rewards to others. The survey by St. Louis-based Maritz Loyalty Marketing also found that nearly 90% have been enrolled in a rewards program for two years or more compared to 69% of all survey respondents. Forty-five percent of high-income individuals are enrolled in multiple credit card programs and currently 41% of this demographic group receives credit cards through their main bank. Sixty-four percent of high-income earners would increase business with their main bank if they were rewarded for doing so, representing a huge opportunity for banks to cross-sell their products to customers by offering a bank-wide reward incentive.

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bcgi Launches a Mobile Services Platform

Boston Communications Group has launched a new platform that consists of four product sets: “bcgi Access Management,” “bcgi Billing,” “bcgi Payment” and “bcgi Network”. These product sets are available on both a licensed and fully outsourced basis to flexibly meet the business requirements of wireless operators. Boston Communications Group, Inc. (Nasdaq: BCGI) develops products and services that enable wireless operators to fully realize the potential of their networks. bcgi’s access management, billing, payment and network solutions help operators rapidly deploy and manage innovative voice and data services for subscribers.

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Transax Transaction Volume Rises 30% Sequentially

CA-based Transax International reports it processed 390,000 real-time transactions in January, a 30% increase from December. Transax expects to achieve favorable sequential quarterly double digit revenue growth during 2005. Volumes are expected to increase from approximately 400,000 “real time” transactions per month at the end of January 2005 to over 1 million “real time” transactions per month by December 2005 based on currently signed contracts only. Transax is provider of network solutions for healthcare providers and health insurance companies.

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VASCO Data Security Acquires AOS-Hagenuk

VASCO Data Security International announced its acquisition of AOS-Hagenuk of ‘s-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands, a specialist in security-based Internet appliances and secure smart card readers. VASCO will acquire all of the stock of AOS-Hagenuk, in exchange for consideration of $6.5 million. AOS-Hagenuk generated revenues of $5.4 million, an 85% increase over 2003. AOS-Hagenuk has a strong market
position in The Netherlands and its customers include Fortis and ABN-Amro. VASCO will centralize its smart card related R&D activities in AOS-Hagenuk’s offices in The Netherlands, thus creating a secure smart card reader research and development center focused on smart card technology.VASCO designs, develops, markets and supports patented
“Identity Authentication” products for e-business and e-commerce.

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UATP Volume Grows 10% in 2004

Universal Air Travel Plan posted a 10% increase in business travel volume in 2004 that reached $7.7 billion in sales. Since the third quarter of 2003, UATP has experienced six straight quarters of growth that has increased sales nearly 20% from $6.5 billion in 2002 to $7.7 billion in 2004. UATP is targeting sales of $8 billion in 2005. With VARIG Brazilian Airlines and the new Northwest Airlines AirPlus Company Account now competing for corporate sales, UATP expects to see its growth pattern continue in 2005.

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Fifth Third to Process MoneyPass Transactions

Fifth Third Processing Solutions has signed an agreement to process “MoneyPass” transactions for its financial institution customers. MoneyPass is the nation’s fastest-growing surcharge-free ATM Network, with more than 13,000 ATMs and 11 million cards committed. Genpass Technologies, which drives ATMs and processes cards in all 50 states, is listed in ATM and Debit Card News (July 25, 2003) as the second largest third party ATM driver in the U.S. and in The EFT Data Book (2003 edition) as one of the largest transaction processors in the U.S., driving approximately 31,000 ATMs located throughout the country.

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Three Companies Team for Loyalty NFC

Royal Philips Electronics has teamed with content and
service providers SMART System Technologies and 3united to deliver
mobile entertainment applications as well as loyalty and reward programs via Near Field Communication technology. NFC, developed by Philips and
Sony, securely links wireless connectivity with contactless smart card
technology, making it simple for consumers to access entertainment, information and payment services through their mobile phones. SST is a provider of merchant-centric point-of-purchase loyalty and coalition marketing applications and services. Based in Austria, 3united is one of Europe’s market leaders in premium short message services, m-commerce and mobile content solutions. 3united already provides NFC interfaces for more than 500 premium services for national and international content providers, media enterprises and mobile network operators. SST has developed customized software for NFC phones and has integrated this with its hosted “PowerPay” solution.

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NFC-Enabled Mobile Payment Product Launched

Nokia introduced a new product for secure mobile contactless payments and ticketing. The world’s first “Near Field Communications” product for payment and ticketing will be an enhanced version of the already announced “Nokia NFC” shell for “Nokia 3220” phone.
With the “Nokia NFC” shell for payment and ticketing, the consumer can
conduct local transactions with a mobile phone, simply by touching a
point of sales device or ticket gate. Consumer’s payment credentials, such as debit and credit cards, and transport tickets are securely stored in the integrated smart card chip of the “Nokia NFC” shell. The “Nokia NFC” shell for payment and ticketing is compliant and interoperable with contactless smart card infrastructure. In the first live NFC-based public transport ticketing showcase of its kind, Nokia 3220 mobile phones will be tested within the local bus network in
the city of Hanau, near Frankfurt, Germany.

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