Welcome XLS and Aconite EMV Solutions Combined

Welcome has partnered with international smart card solutions provider, Aconite, to deliver value added payment solutions to banks, financial institutions and merchants by combining Welcome’s “XLS” and Aconite’s EMV solutions. Welcome’s “XLS” software enhances the EMV payment function with customer-centric features, such as instant delivery of surprise offers and welcome gifts, immediate calculation of points or cash back, and easy redemption of rewards at the point of sale. Aconite’s EMV transaction authorization and dynamic risk management solutions are designed to be integrated into a bank’s existing card management and transaction processing systems, at a much lower cost and faster time to market than traditional solutions.

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GE Gears Up to Issue Consumer Credit Cards

General Electric Consumer Finance expects to enter the consumer credit business in China within the next year. The company reportedly is currently in talks with several banks to provide consumer financing for retailers. Bloomberg news service says GE Consumer Finance CEO David Nissen believes the Chinese consumer is becoming far more comfortable with credit, in a country dominated by debit cards. Meanwhile, GECF is in the process of acquiring Moscow-based DeltaBank, a VISA issuer with more than 103,000 credit cards in-force. GECF also recently acquired the assets of U.S.-based Dillard National Bank and Mervyn’s credit card portfolio from U.S.-based Target. Over the past year, GECF’s assets have grown more than 20%, from $97.1 billion to $116.9 billion. During the second quarter, GECF produced net income $600 million on revenues of $3.8 billion.

GECF ASSET GROWTH
1Q/02: $62.4 billion
2Q/02: $69.0 billion
3Q/02: $72.7 billion
4Q/02: $77.0 billion
1Q/03: $77.9 billion
2Q/03: $97.1 billion
3Q/03: $96.6 billion
4Q/03: $106.5 billion
1Q/04: $107.4 billion
2Q/04: $116.9 billion
Source: CardData (www.carddata.com)

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RBC to Offer Double Dining Cardholder Rewards

RBC Royal Bank has signed an agreement with Chicago-based Rewards Network to provide its VISA cardholders with additional rewards points when dining. The is the first Canadian bank alliance for the Rewards Network. Last month, Hudson’s Bay Company introduced the “Hbc Rewards Dining & Hotels Program” in partnership with the Rewards Network. With plans to add non-dining merchants throughout Canada, Rewards Network currently includes more than 10,400 restaurants in Canada and the U.S. Under the arrangement, once registered, “RBC Rewards VISA” cardholders in Canada will automatically earn one additional point for every dollar spent when they dine at participating restaurants and pay using their card. These points are earned in addition to the “RBC Rewards” points cardholders already collect for these purchases, and for most cardholders, that means doubling their points.

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JCB Contactless QUICPay Set for a November Pilot

JCB’s new contactless payment system will get a workout in November as a two-month pilot gets underway in Japan by Kanachu Hire taxi company. The “QUICPay” trial will use NTT “DoCoMo” mobile wallet service handsets for customers and contactless readers for cabs. The POS readers and data processing system at Kanachu Hire will be provided by SAXA. With “QUICPay” (“Quick and Useful IC Payment”), part of the customer’s existing credit limit is assigned to a contactless IC chip, which may be embedded in a plastic card, or incorporated in the customer’s “i-mode FeliCa” mobile wallet service phone. The “QUICPay” amount is billed to the customer’s existing credit card just like any other card purchase. JCB expects to make a full-scale release of the “QUICPay” system in the spring of 2005.

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MasterCard has a 50% Platinum Cards Increase

MasterCard announced a 50% increase in the number of MasterCard Platinum cards in Asia/Pacific in the first six months of 2004. The program has seen strong growth since MasterCard introduced its first
“Platinum” card program in the region in 1998. MasterCard’s “Platinum
Collection,” an exclusively designed collection of premium deals to
provide Platinum MasterCard cardholders priceless experiences and
exclusive benefits continues to expand. Today, it includes more than 150
leading hotels, golf courses, restaurants and merchants, an increase of
22% since the end of last year.

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Bhutan National Bank Signs JCB Acquiring License

Bhutan National Bank has signed an agreement to become the first JCB acquiring licensee in Bhutan. JCB says 25% of foreign visitors to Bhutan are Japanese. With this agreement, the JCB brand will be phased in at all the bank’s merchants starting this month. With the addition of Bhutan, the JCB brand is now accepted in 190 countries and territories around the world. Its merchant network includes 11.7 million merchants. Bhutan is located on the southern slopes of the Himalayas.

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Philips and ViVOtech Advance NFC Payments

Royal Philips Electronics and ViVOtech have joined hands to advance “Near Field Communication” technology-based contactless payment and promotion solutions in physical merchant environments for the first time. The alliance will marry the “ViVOpay 3000” reader and an “NFC”-enabled mobile phone. Philips’ “NFC” is a combination of contactless identification and interconnection technologies that enables convenient short-range RF communication between personal electronic devices. ViVOtech provides software technology and reader infrastructure that allows consumers to make contactless payments with an NFC-enabled mobile phone at existing POS systems. NFC can also enable ViVOtech’s “ViVOwallet” software, which includes the ability to pay and to use loyalty cards, gift cards, SMS/MMS promotions, and e-coupons.

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VASCO Signs Several European Distributors

Brussels-based VASCO has signed distributors in the UK, Denmark, Switzerland, Belgium, The Netherlands, France and Italy. VASCO’s distributors will sell “Digipass Pack,” a bundling of VASCO’s “Digipass” and “VACMAn Middleware.” “Digipass Pack” is solely sold indirectly, via distributors and resellers/integrators. With over 11 million Digipass products sold and ordered, VASCO has relationships with 300 international financial institutions and approximately 1,400 blue-chip corporations and governments located in more than 70 countries.

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EMV Migration Drives Axalto Smart Card Profits

Smart card specialist, Axalto, reported that profits for its financial card segment rose 72% during the first six months of this year to $23.3 million. Overall, microprocessor cards sales rose by 35% in volumes to 36 million units, driven by the U.K. migration to the EMV standard. Microprocessor financial cards revenue also increased in the Americas, where Axalto continued its selective withdrawal from the magnetic-stripe cards business. Revenue in the financial cards segment came in at $97.4 million, an increase of 25% compared with the first half of 2003, or 14% at constant exchange rates. Overall, Axalto revenue reached $430 million, a 28% growth compared with the same period last year. The Company also posted a very sharp improvement in overall profitability, with an operating profit of $28 million, more than five times the level seen in the year-earlier period, and a net profit of $20.5 million. Axalto is a spin-off of Schlumberger.

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ECN E-card XP Set to be Launched

GlobeTel Communications has inked a MOU with the largest VISA
credit and debit card issuer in the country. GTEL will interface with Equitable Cards Network’s systems to issue prepaid cards to remittance recipients and issue prepaid “VISA Electron” debit cards to its
cardholders. The card, the “ECN E-card XP,” will allow free withdrawals
from 400 Equitable ATMs, and access to 5,000 Megalink and BancNet local ATMs. ECN is also the only issuer of American Express credit cards in the Philippines.

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Celtron Sells PayCell in an All Stock Deal

Midrand-based Celtron International has inked a deal to sell its
PayCell subsidiary to Knight Fuller. PayCell’s service utilizes WIG technology that eliminates the need for any Web-based banking service or WAP. Users receive immediate transaction settlement in their bank account and confirmation is received in seconds via SMS protocol. Therefore, customers are protected from fraud by the MOTO rule. Knight Fuller intends to take the PayCell mobile payment services to North American customers.

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Government Wants to Rein In Credit Card Issuers

The Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency is considering new regulations for the credit card industry. Under the new rules credit card issuers would be required to base credit limits on the consumer’s financial circumstances. The rules are driven by a sharp rise in credit card borrowing and rising defaults. According to the Central Bank, credit card loans recently hit 233.2 million euros. The number of credit card holders has climbed to 23.2 million. The central Bank reports that credit card volume hit 5.6 billion euros in August.

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