SunTrust and Skylight Team for Payroll Cards

SunTrust Banks has selected Skylight Financial to provide a distinctive direct deposit pay card program. SunTrust is offering the program to its base of corporate and institutional clients. Skylight provides all the processing, implementation, servicing, and support for all of the accounts. People who have direct deposit through this program will enjoy a financial service option in lieu of costly and inconvenient check cashing services for paychecks or government benefits. In addition, the Skylight “bank account in a card (R)” can be used to withdraw cash at ATMs. Accounts are owned by the employee and are FDIC-insured through SunTrust. Skylight has customers in 46 states in the U.S. and over 60% of Fortune 100 companies have employees that use a Skylight account.

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CECP and Oberthur Launch the Reference Project

Caisse d’Epargne et des Cheques Postaux is deploying the first biometric smart card in financial services. The country’s top financial institution has inked a contract with Oberthur Card Systems for 500,000
cards and 300 biometric readers. CECP has 200 branches throughout the
country. Oberthur developed a solution that provides two-level
authentication of the cardholder with both a photograph and
fingerprints. After a three-month pilot deemed successful by both
customers and employees of Abidjan’s main branch, the bank will deploy
the project, known as “Reference,” in all of its branches.

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Navigant to Distribute AmEx Commercial Cards

Denver-based TQ3NAVIGANT has signed an agreement to distribute American Express commercial cards to its travel clients in the USA. TQ3NAVIGANT will now market American Express payment solutions, which are intended to help companies better manage their T&E expenses along with identifying opportunities for cost savings. American Express expense management solutions enable companies to manage business expenses, ease various processes, improve terms with suppliers, and manage risk. Through its relationship with TQ3NAVIGANT, American Express will broaden its ability to help companies that want to better manage their costs. Navigant International, Inc. is the second largest corporate travel management business services provider in North America in regard to airline tickets sold, serving corporate, government, military, leisure, and meetings and incentive clients. American Express is a provider of expense management services to over 100,000 firms worldwide. It is considered to be the world’s leading corporate card and business travel services provider.

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EFTPOS FEES

After declaring VISA debit cards as a “payment system” earlier this year, the Reserve Bank yesterday designated the entire EFTPOS debit card business as a “payment system.” The decision means that fees charged for EFTPOS transactions on the 24.7 million debit card accounts currently in use will now be subject to regulation. In deciding to designate the EFTPOS system, the Payments System Board concluded that
current interchange arrangements are not conducive to the efficiency of
the overall payments system. In particular, the nature of the
interchange arrangements contribute to the effective price that
cardholders are charged for payments using EFTPOS being higher than for
payments using credit cards. The Board says the EFTPOS system has relatively lower costs. The Board judged that a narrowing of this differential in relative prices and costs would promote the efficiency of the overall payments system. The Board opted not to declare the ATM system a “payment system” at this time. During June, Australians used debit cards for A$5.7 billion in EFTPOS in 83.2 million debit card transactions. In June, debit cards were used for A$4.3 billion in purchases among 69 million transactions.

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MBI Lands a New CTO

MA-based MBI has hired Irvin Steltz, former SVP/CIO of the First Data Solutions Division, as CTO. Mr. Steltz has over 30 years of experience with a range of technology areas such as real-time financial transactions and healthcare information systems. Sheltz has initiated critical application development efforts at world leading financial firms including Thompson Financial, First Data Corporation, and Dun and Bradstreet. He will be responsible for all aspects of technology at MBI. MBI offers the #1 employee benefits card, which features access to Flexible Spending Accounts, Health Reimbursement Arrangements, Health Savings Accounts, Transit/Parking Accounts, and Dependent Care Accounts all on one card. The card permits employees to pay for eligible expenses at physician and dental offices, pharmacies, and vision service facilities. Over 12,000 employers offer the MBI benefits card to their employees.

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Discover Names a New Chief Marketing Officer

Discover has hired Margaret Georgiadis, formerly of McKinsey & Company, as EVP/Chief Marketing Officer. Ms. Georgiadis was a partner in the Chicago and London offices of McKinsey & Company for 16 years. She contributed to multi-year growth and performance improvement initiatives for over 30 leading companies. She has a bachelor’s degree from Harvard-Radcliffe Colleges and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School. Discover Financial Services, Inc., operates the Discover Card and the Discover Network for over 50 million Cardmembers. The Discover Network is the largest independent credit card network in the U.S.

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MEI and USTT to Integrate Technologies

MEI and USA Technologies, both based in Pennsylvania, have signed a technology licensing and sales agreement to bring a turn-key cash and credit card payment system to the vending market. MEI licensed USA Technologies’ intellectual property to enable operators to connect to USALive(R), USA Technologies’ network for services and credit card transaction capability. Jeff Jordan, vice president of Global Vending, MEI, says that together, MEI and USA Technologies will provide a turn-key solution for operators that offers a new payment method, greater convenience for consumers, and a new source of revenue. The solution will improve vending experience for consumers, thus increasing sales. USA Technologies’ USALive network authorizes cards and processes charges. Funds are deposited directly into an operator’s bank account. MEI payment systems are used in order for over 1 billion transactions to take place per week in 90 countries. MEI has sold millions of products worldwide. USA Technologies is a leading company that networks distributed assets, wireless non-cash transactions, associated financial/network services, and energy management.

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Credit Card Debt Soars in July; Up 9% Annually

After five consecutive months of contraction, Americans have started piling on revolving credit at a pretty good clip. During July, consumers added $5.6 billion to revolving credit, mostly credit card debt, compared to less than $1.0 billion one-year ago. At an annualized rate, consumer revolving credit increased 9.0% during July. According to figures released yesterday by the Federal Reserve, at the end of July 2004, Americans owed $744.1 billion in revolving credit, compared to $726.1 billion for July 2003. Bank credit card debt (excluding store and gas credit cards) at the end of the second quarter was $672.1 billion, or roughly 90% of total revolving credit, according to CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]). At the end of July, Americans were $2039.9 billion in debt, excluding home mortgages.

REVOLVING CREDIT HISTORICAL ($billions)
Jul 04 Jun 04 May 04 Apr 04 Mar 04 Feb 04 Jan04
GRWTH: 9.0% -0.2 -1.0 -5.3 -2.1 -0.6 13.0
$OWED: $744.1 738.5 738.60 740.9 744.2 750.4 753.0

Dec 03 Nov 03 Oct 03 Sep03 Aug 03 Jul03 Jun03
GRWTH: 3.3% 4.9 4.1 6.8 3.4 1.4 2.7
$OWED: $734.1 743.8 740.5 730.7 729.1 726.8 726.1
Source: Federal Reserve; revised figures as of 9/08/04;
For complete historical data visit CardData (www.carddata.com)

[1]: http://www.carddata.com

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iMergent Revenues Up 82% in the Second Quarter

Utah-based iMergent reported revenue for the second calendar quarter of $25.0 million, an 82% increase over year-ago levels. The growth was driven by an increasing number of training workshops conducted by the company and other marketing initiatives, including the significant rise in international business. During the quarter, iMergent held 164 “StoresOnline” workshops and 37 international workshops. Net income for the quarter increased to $2.5 million, compared to net income of $1.6 million, for the comparable quarter of the prior year. Last month, the Company began trading on the American Stock Exchange under the ticker “IIG” and, received a new two-year, $5 million line of credit with Bank One. For complete details on iMergent’s latest performance, visit CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]).

[1]: http://www.carddata.com

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VISA USA Goes in Search of the Next Big Ideas

VISA has launched its national “Ideas Happen” online campaign for the second year. “Ideas Happen” is an interactive platform where young adults ages 18-to-29 are being asked to pitch – in approximately 250 words or less – their best ideas for a chance to be one of 12 recipients of $25,000 each – $300,000 total – to help bring their ideas to life. “Ideas Happen” will be conducted over the Internet through October 20th. A panel of judges will rate the entries on creativity, passion, presentation and realization, and ultimately will select the top 90 entries in the categories of “Community,” “Self-Expression,” and “Entrepreneur.” Winners will be announced on or about January 14th, as determined by a public vote online. The awards are sponsored by VISA and presented by Wells Fargo, “Community;” Bank of America, “Entrepreneur;” and, First National Bank of Omaha, for “Self-Expression.”

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InterCept Acquired by Fidelity National Financial

Jacksonville-based Fidelity National Financial has signed a deal to acquire Atlanta-based InterCept for $18.90 per share. InterCept generated $110 million in revenue for six months of this year and has been embroiled in various disputes with investors, putting itself up for sale. FNF says it expects to realize at least $25 million in cost synergies through its integration of InterCept into FNF. InterCept provides outsourced and in-house, fully integrated core banking solutions for approximately 425 community banks and operates significant item processing and check imaging operations for approximately 720 customers. FNF is a provider of products and outsourced services and solutions to financial institutions and the real estate industry, with annual income of more than $7.7 billion. Due to the pending InterCept transaction, FNF has postponed an initial public offering for its information services unit until 2005. InterCept has also rescheduled its annual shareholders meeting to November 8th.

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Maestro Cards Up 10%; U.S. Transactions Double

MasterCard yesterday reported that it added 21 million “Maestro” PIN-POS cards during the second quarter, bringing its global “Maestro” portfolio to 545 million cards. At mid-year, cards bearing the “Maestro” brand could be used to withdraw cash from more than 900,000 ATMs as well as to make purchases at more than seven million “Maestro” merchant locations worldwide. In the USA, “Maestro”-processed transactions grew 92% during the first six months of this year. New acquirer and major merchant direct connections to the “MasterCard Debit Switch” and “Maestro” issuer decisions to designate the “MDS” as their preferred routing channel for online debit transactions fueled the increase. Europe continued to be the largest cardholder base for “Maestro” with 253 million cards, a 10% increase over the same period in 2003. GDV for online debit activity in the region for the second quarter was $274 billion. The number of “Maestro” cards issued in Asia/Pacific was 148 million with GDV of $34 billion for the second quarter. In Latin America, “Maestro” card numbers grew 36% to 72 million cards, compared to the end of the second quarter in 2003. GDV for online debit activity in the region for the second quarter was $10 billion. The South Asia, Middle East, and Africa region also experienced exceptional card growth with a 40% increase to 25 million cards at the end of the second quarter, compared to the end of the second quarter of 2003. GDV for online debit activity in the region for the second quarter of 2004 was $16 billion.

MAESTRO CARD HISTORICAL
2Q/00: 336 million
2Q/01: 388 million
2Q/02: 445 million
2Q/03: 495 million
2Q/04: 545 million
Source: CardFlash International

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