SmartPay Acquires DT Intrinsic Technology

SmartPay Jieyin has entered into an agreement to acquire DT
Intrinsic Technology, a firm that provides billing and service management software platforms to Chinese mobile carriers. Intrinsic was one of the earliest innovators in China’s wireless industry
and a driving force in the development of the value-added services market. Intrinsic’s core competence is in the areas of service provisioning, system maintenance and implementation. The Intrinsic platform will strengthen SmartPay’s position with mobile operator merchants and adds billing, systems integration and service management capabilities. SmartPay works with over 15 Chinese banks and numerous merchants including 10 of China’s largest mobile telecom operators and is China’s clear leader in processing payments originating from
mobile phone subscribers.

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Bankruptcy Filings Drop 11% in November

Bankruptcy filings during November declined more than 11% over year ago levels. Overall, bankruptcy filings are down more than 4% year-to-date. During November, 116,952 filings were made compared to 131,921 for November 2003. Year-to-date bankruptcy filings were 1.4 million. During the 12-month period ending September 30th, there were 1,618,987 bankruptcies filed, down from the 1,661,996 bankruptcy cases filed in fiscal year 2003. During the third quarter, there were 396,438 consumer and business bankruptcy filings, a decline of more than 4% over 3Q/03, and down nearly 6% from the previous quarter. The decline for the first nine months of this year is the first drop in consumer bankruptcy filings since 2000.

Monthly Filings Historical
Nov 03: 131,921
Dec 03: 113,383
Jan 04: 114,737
Feb 04: 124,719
Mar 04: 152,567
Apr 04: 145,543
May 04: 136,509
Jun 04: 127,742
Jul 04: 133,390
Aug 04: 125,783
Sep 04: 127,664
Oct 04: 133,404
Nov 04: 116,952
Source: CardData (www.carddata.com)

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ASEC Expands Contactless Omni Deployment

ASEC S.A., a subsidiary of On Track Innovations, has received a follow-on order for 1,500 additional Verifone’s “Omni 3750” terminals with contactless reader solutions for micropayments to be located in one of the largest kiosk chains across Poland. The order follows an earlier announced initial order for 1,000 terminals. Similar to the previous order, the terminals are for a Polish mass transit system and will be operated through a GSM Communications system. Commuters will be able to load funds onto their commuter card to pay for their mass transit tickets and other small ticket-items. Poland has about 80,000 POS terminals and 7,200 ATM machines located across the country.

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PayStar Spins-Off its Kiosk Division

CA-based PayStar announced this week it is spinning-off its InfoStations kiosk division. The new company would be publicly traded and would be named INFOSTAR Systems, Inc. Upon successful conclusion, PayStar shareholders would receive a yet to be determined stock dividend and PayStar Corporation would retain an equity position in the new company. PayStar Corporation (www.paystar.com) provides its distributors and clients with a suite of prepaid, stored value products, national bank load center locations and Kiosk marketing and management.

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Coinstar Seeks Loose Change for Tsunami Relief

Coinstar announced that Americans can now donate their spare change at Coinstar machines to aid in the tsunami relief efforts. Consumers can choose to donate their spare change to either The U.S. Fund for UNICEF or the American Red Cross. Coinstar machines are located in nearly 10,000 supermarket locations. The Company says 75% of the U.S. population lives within five miles of a Coinstar machine. Donors receive a tax receipt for the full amount of their donation.

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Diebold Inks a Major Opteva Deal With ICBC

Industrial and Commercial Bank of China has placed an order for
Diebold’s “Opteva” ATMs. It is the largest order to-date for the advanced-function ATM. The $25 million deal includes more than 1,100 “Opteva” self-service terminals driven by “Agilis Power.” The balance of the order includes more than 100 “Bulk Cash Recycling Machines.” ICBC, with 27,000 branches, provides routine banking transactions, in addition to other customer-friendly services like pension plans and bill payments, to millions of customers in urban and rural areas of China.

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VISA Debit Card Holiday Volume Up 26%

VISA reported that consumer spending on debit cards, between November 1st and January 2nd grew to more than $90.6 billion, a 26% jump over the same time in 2003. Consumer spending on VISA credit cards topped $110 billion, a 7% increase over one-year ago. Sales volume during the 2004 peak holiday season, Black Friday through January 2nd, reached approximately $138.3 billion, a 19.6% increase over the same period in 2003. E-commerce growth expanded by more than 33% since November 1st, to more than $19.8 billion. The most active day was December 23rd when VISA handled $4.8 billion in sales volume.

TOP HOLIDAY SPIKE DAYS
(VISA Sales Volume)
Thursday, December 23rd – $4,837,127,232
Wednesday, December 22nd – $4,680,510,555
Tuesday, December 21st – $4,627,681,135
Friday, December 17th – $4,565,247,143
Saturday, December 18th – $4,499,845,665
Source: VISA USA

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CHIP & PIN 05

More than 12 million transactions using “Chip and PIN” took place over the first weekend of 2005. At the end of 2004, 79% of cardholders had at least one “Chip and PIN” debit or credit card in their wallets, and 80% of the tills in the country have been upgraded to accept the new cards. Around 50 million cards have yet to be upgraded so retailers are continuing to accept signature for those customers that have yet to receive a new “Chip and PIN” card or who do not yet know their PIN. There are 122 million total cards in the country. The UK’s first “Chip and PIN” transaction took place during 2003. Since then
33.2 million cardholders and 688,000 tills have been upgraded to “Chip and PIN.” There are 42 million total cardholders and 860,000 tills in the U.K. The December target was 36 million cardholders and 636,000 tills.

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Airline Cards Regain Consumer Popularity

A new research report has discovered that consumer preference for co-branded airline cards has grown 73% between 2000 and 2003. The report also found that 93% of those surveyed say the value and features of co-branded cards prompt them to use the cards more often than other types. Packaged Facts says it study found that airline card activity reached a low point in late 1999 but resurged in 2002. The market research firm surveyed 6,500 consumers for its report titled: “The U.S. Market for Co-Branded and Affinity Credit Cards.”

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Abu Dhabi Comm Bank Deploys BASE24-es

Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank has selected ACI’s “BASE24-es” to consolidate ATM and POS transaction authorization onto a single platform. “BASE24-es” will also aid the bank’s compliance with EMV mandates. Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank will run “BASE24-es” on a Sun “Solaris” platform. Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank was formed in 1985 as a public shareholding company with limited liability upon the merger of Emirates Commercial Bank and Federal Commercial Bank with Khaleej Commercial Bank.

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