CO-OP Network Adds a New Board Member

The CO-OP Network has added Douglas Allman, president and CEO of NASA FCU to its Board. Mr. Allman served as president and CEO of NASA FCU for 13 years. He helped it become the fifth largest credit union in Maryland with nearly 70,000 members and over $700 million in assets. Allman is currently Chairman of the Board for the Credit Union Mortgage Association as well as on the Supervisory Committee of EasCorp. He also holds board positions with the Goddard Alliance and CU Realty of Virginia, Maryland, and Washington D.C. He formerly served as board director of the STAR ATM network and as a member of numerous National Association of Federal Credit Union committees. CO-OP Network is the top credit union EFT network in the U.S. financial services industry with over 1,700 credit union members, 19,000 surcharge-free ATMs, 80 million monthly transactions, and 19 million cardholders.

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Cendant Plans to Take Wright Express Public

Cendant’s Wright Express has filed for a March IPO to sell 100% of Cendant’s ownership interest in a planned initial public offering. Wright Express will not obtain any of the proceeds from the offering unless the over-allotment option by the underwriters is exercised. Joint book-running managers of the offering include JPMorgan, Credit Suisse First Boston, and Merrill Lynch & Co. The offering is scheduled for March 2005. Wright Express provides payment processing and information management services to the U.S. commercial and government vehicle fleet industry.

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Delta’s SkyMiles Joins Points International

Toronto-based Points International has signed an agreement with Delta Air Lines’ “SkyMiles” program. Points.com Business Solutions technology now powers the online transfer of miles between “SkyMiles” program member accounts. Delta has participated in the Points.com program since December 2001. Points.com has attracted over 40 major reward programs, including eBay (Anything Points), American Airlines (the AAdvantage program), InterContinental Hotels (Priority Club Rewards), and Starbucks.

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Laura Secord Launches an Ernex Gift Card

Vancouver-based Ernex has assisted specialty retailer Laura
Secord in launching a gift card program. Laura Secord has 160 locations in Canada where the gift cards will be available for purchase. The Company selected Ernex as its gift card program vendor in August because of Ernex’s ability to launch the program in time for the holiday season.
Ernex is a division of Moneris Solutions Corporation.

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ATM Fraud to Drive Smart Card Migration

A new white paper suggests that growing ATM fraud could accelerate the U.S. conversion to the smart card. London-based Level Four says the actual cost of ATM fraud, including administrative costs, in the U.S. is approaching $200 million a year and is rapidly increasing. Level Four argues that fraud migration will quickly become apparent as North America’s more immediate neighbors, such as Latin America and Canada, migrate to the EMV standard. EMV becomes standard from January 2005 in Western Europe and some countries in Asia Pacific, and from January 2006 for the rest of Europe, the Middle East, Latin America and Canada.

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SEP 04 DEBT

Credit card outstandings rose a mere GBP 134 million during September
to bring total outstandings to GBP 56.8 billion, the second smallest
increase over the past year. In the prior month, credit card
outstandings increased GDP 600 million. Total net lending to consumers
for September hit GBP 133.7 billion, an increase of GBP 1.4 billion over
August. Overall, consumer credit grew by GBP 1.6 billion or 0.9% in
September, seasonally adjusted, GBP 0.3 billion weaker than the
increase in August. The three-month (annualized) growth rate fell to
12.4% from 14.0% in August while the twelve-month growth rate fell to
11.9% from 12.0% in August. Gross advances were GBP 18.6 billion,
slightly above the average of GBP 18.5 billion three months to August.
The Bank of England has maintained its benchmark interest rate at 4.75%.

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Rahaxi Processing Oy and SEB Kort Partner

Helsinki-based FreeStar Technology announced that its wholly owned subsidiary Rahaxi Processing Oy and SEB Kort AB has signed an agreement that allows Rahaxi to expand its merchant acquiring capabilities. Through “Euroline,” Rahaxi will now be able to offer new and existing merchants with businesses in more than one country, one agreement whereby they can acquire transactions from all the countries in which they operate. Rahaxi, by entering into this new agreement, enhances its ability to increment the number of transactions by expanding the territory in which it can acquire merchants. FreeStar currently processes approximately 1,000,000 card payments per month for an established client base that comprises companies such as Finnair, Ikea and Stockman.

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2004 Payment Card Retail Sales Volume to Climb 6%+

Retail sales volume on payment cards between Thanksgiving and Christmas Day should approach $108 billion, approximately 6.2% more than 2003. During the 29-day shopping period, Americans are expected to charge $70.5 billion on general-purpose credit/charge cards, $21.3 billion on signature debit cards, and $15.9 billion on limited-purpose store credit cards. The figures exclude groceries, gasoline, and travel related charges. The “Black Friday” weekend (Nov 26-28) should bring the most activity as retailers are expected to tally up retail sales of $11.9 billion on VISA, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover credit cards, $2.8 billion on VISA and MasterCard debit cards, and $2.7 billion on store credit cards. The busiest full week is expected to be December 13-19 when Americans should charge more than $27 billion of retail sales on payment cards, or roughly one-fourth of the total sales anticipated during the holiday season. The NRF expects total retail sales for November and December to hit $220 billion, up 4.5% from the prior year.

2004 Holiday Retail Sales on Payment Cards
Shopping Period CARD TYPE TOTAL
($ billions) Credit Debit Store
Nov 26-28: $11.9 $2.8 $2.7 $17.4
Nov 29-Dec 5: $14.5 $4.1 $3.2 $21.8
Dec 6-12: $16.2 $5.3 $3.7 $25.2
Dec 13-19: $17.3 $6.0 $3.9 $27.2
Dec 20-24: $10.6 $3.1 $2.4 $16.1
TOTAL: $70.5 $21.3 $15.9 $107.7
Source: CardData (www.carddata.com)

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VISA Holds its First Vietnam Acquirer Forum

VISA International held its first ever “Acquirer Forum” in Ho Chi Minh
City attended by more than 50 delegates from 29 banks in the country.
Vietnam accounts for a mere 2% of the 500,000 VISA merchants in
Southeast Asia. There is an acceptance network of 10,000 merchants
compared to other emerging economies in Asia, such as India (154,000
merchants), Thailand (143,000) and Indonesia (74,000). Official
statistics estimate that total tourism income for Vietnam in
2003 was around VND 20,000 billion. Visa delivered around 15 percent of
the total tourism income, with international Visa cardholders spending
2,927billion VND (US$186 million).

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HSBC Eyeing Another Acquisition

Widely published reports suggest that HSBC is eyeing a purchase of the credit card portfolios of Federated Department Stores. At mid-year Federated had $2.1 billion in private label outstandings and $900 million in bank credit card outstandings. Federated recently indicated it is exploring options with regard to its card portfolio. Federated operates more than 450 stores in 34 states, under the names of Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, Bon-Macy’s, Burdines-Macy’s, Goldsmith’s-Macy’s, Lazarus-Macy’s and Rich’s-Macy’s. Earlier this month, HSBC acquired Marks & Spencer Retail Financial Services Holdings Ltd for $1.4 billion.

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Ontario Telemarketers Targeted in a Crackdown

Law enforcement agencies have teamed with the United States to take on Ontario-based telemarketers who target U.S. citizens by running ads in U.S. newspapers that they pay for with stolen or compromised credit cards. The Toronto Strategic Partnership has brought 16 FTC cases and over 380 Canadian criminal charges, since 2000. The Toronto Strategic Partnership members include the FTC, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Toronto Police Service, the Ontario Ministry of Consumer and Business Services, the Ontario Provincial Police, and the Canadian Competition Bureau.

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MasterCard Sponsors the NYT’s Arts & Leisure Weekend

MasterCard is co-sponsoring the fourth New York Times “Arts & Leisure Weekend,” scheduled for January 7th through 9th. The Times has partnered with hundreds of cultural institutions in the U.S. and Europe to offer free admission, discounted prices, and special events at museums, theaters, performing arts centers, tourist attractions, movie theaters, restaurants, and spas and health clubs throughout the weekend. The Times will also be hosting “TimesTalks”, special edition discussions featuring numerous arts celebrities speaking with Times critics, reporters, and editors. Sponsors for the Arts & Leisure Weekend include California Closets, Grand Marnier, HBO Films, Loews Cineplex, MasterCard, Microsoft, Sprint, UBS, and Volkswagen. The New York Times Company is a leading media company that has been ranked No. 1 in the publishing industry in Fortune’s 2004 list of America’s Most Admired Companies for four consecutive years.

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