High Speed Card Punching Video Released by Spartanics

Spartanics is offering a free video about high precision throughput card punching technology at next week’s “CEBIT 2004” in Hannover. The video on CD will give card manufacturers at up-close look at how the
“Spartanics M560 Card Punching System” works and how 6-8-or 10-Up layouts can increase throughput and profitability with double the output of earlier systems that max out at 35,000 “CR80” cards an hour.
Introduced one-year ago, the “Spartanics M560 Card Punching System” enables card manufacturers to get the greatest throughput for “CR80” cards in 72-up, 96-up or 120-up sheets along with the unsurpassed ± 0.1 mm or better registration precision in X, Y, and Theta axes critical to high value card production. These systems re-register at each press stroke, at production rates up to 165 strokes per minute.

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GCA Buys Out First Data’s 67% Share

Global Cash Access has bought out First Data’s 67% interest for approximately $435 million. The repurchase is part of a recapitalization of GCA. M&C International, GCA’s founder, now owns slightly more than 95 percent of GCA’s parent holding company and Bank of America owns the remainder. First Data, Bank of America and M&C International formed GCA in 1998 to provide cash advance and related services to the gaming industry. The Company provides services to 960 gaming establishments, representing approximately 70% of the gaming establishments in the USA, Canada, UK, and the Caribbean. From 2000 to 2003, the company’s revenues grew at a compounded annual growth rate of 13.8%. Last year the firm handled 60 million transactions. Banc of America Securities acted as the exclusive financial adviser to M & C International in connection with the repurchase and recapitalization transactions.

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ADCB Adds Purchase Protection and Credit Shield to its Cards

Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank has inked a deal with Arab Orient Insurance to provide its credit card holders with “Purchase Protection” and “Credit Shield” insurance policies. Both insurance products are available to all current and new card members. “Purchase Protection” is available at no additional cost while “Credit Shield” is subject to 30 fils for each AED 100 outstanding on the card. “Purchase Protection” ensures that any purchase made using an ADCB credit card is fully insured for 90 days from the date of purchase. The policy details range depending on the card type. Regular, or classic credit cards, are covered for up to $US1,000, Gold credit cards $US2,000 and Platinum credit cards $US4,000. “Credit Shield” covers death, permanent disability, involuntary loss of employment. Regular, or classic, credit cards are covered for up to AED 50,000, Gold AED 75,000 and Platinum AED 100,000. Arab Orient Insurance commenced operations in 1982 as part of the reputed Al Futtaim Group of Companies.

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Sputnik Offers Pre-Paid Card Wi-Fi Access

San Francisco-based Wi-Fi specialist, Sputnik, has introduced a “Plug-In for Pre-Paid Cards” that enables hotspots to offer customers pre-paid cards for network access. The new Sputnik AP 160 is a low-cost 802.11g wireless access point that offers increased bandwidth over 802.11b-compliant equipment, allowing providers of wireless hotspots to support more users on each device. Sputnik Inc. provides secure, managed Wi-Fi network software and hardware for the hotspot provider market. Innovative Sputnik software provides enterprise-class network management for low-cost wireless access points.

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WESTJET MOSIAK CARD

BMO Bank of Montreal, WestJet, and AIRMILES are gearing-up to take-off with a tri-branded MasterCard for personal and small business customers later this year. The new “BMO/WestJet/AIRMILES Mosaik MasterCard” is still in development but will provide enhanced opportunities for consumers to earn and redeem “AIR MILES” reward miles, while also providing unique WestJet-related benefits to cardholders. BMO Bank of Montreal launched the first “Mosaik MasterCard” in September 2002. The card enables Canadian consumers to build their own card with as many as 900 potential combinations of features and pricing. The “Mosaik MasterCard” also allows customers to re-build their cards by changing the features as their needs change without having to replace the card or apply for a new one. The “AIR MILES Reward Program” was created by The Loyalty Group in 1992. More than 15.4 million Canadians actively collect “AIR MILES.” Reward miles can be redeemed for more than 500 different rewards. WestJet serves the 24 Canadian cities.

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Information Architects Acquires IMES STV Cards

Fort Lauderdale-based Information Architects Corporation has acquired the International Monetary Exchange Systems Corporation, a company specializing in pre-paid debit and credit cards primarily focused on the payroll card business and retail card programs. The IMES stored value products enhance the Perceptre product as with Perceptre we offer the HR department the tools to hire an employee and with IMES we offer the tools to pay an employee. IMES is primarily focused in marketing its own card programs directly to consumers and businesses. The IMES solution comprises a suite of proprietary platforms that easily connects clients to the ordinarily complex world of banking, card processing, and SVC issuance.

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Vendtek Seeks $1MM Private Placement for Working Capital

VendTek Systems is conducting non-brokered financing to raise a gross proceeds of up to $1,000,000. Proceeds of the Offering will be used for working capital and business development initiatives. The Company develops and licenses “e-Fresh” software and related technologies, which provides electronic distribution of prepaid telecommunication and financial services. VendTek is commercializing the
“e-Fresh” software under license to create sustainable and recurring revenues. VendTek’s customers and its subsidiaries, Now Prepay Corp. (in Canada) and VendTek Systems Technologies (in China), are using “e-Fresh” software to build electronic, prepaid services networks which enable consumers to purchase prepaid services via POS and self-serve terminals connected to a central “e-Fresh” server.

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AmEx Adds New Membership Rewards Partners

American Express has added the “Universal Golf Ticket” to its “Membership Rewards” program offering access to more than 1,600 golf courses throughout North America. In the retail category, AmEx has added partners Elizabeth Arden Red Door Salon and Spa; ESCADA; Molton Brown, and, Fortunoff. In the dining & entertainment category, enrollees can now redeem points for entertainment events through Telecharge.com and New York City’s Tribeca Film Festival; fine Hawaiian Fusion cuisine at Roy’s; meals at Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises, Inc., an operator of independent restaurants throughout the Midwest; and upscale dining at McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood Restaurants. AmEx also recently added space experiences through partner Space Adventures.

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AmEx Canada Launches Aeroplan Corporate Card

Amex Bank of Canada and Aeroplan launched the country’s first corporate rewards card this week. The new “American Express AeroplanPlus Corporate Card” offers an annual “Air Canada Cash Rebate” between 2% to 4% when their employees use the card for Air Canada travel purchases, according to this week’s issue of CardFlash International. The card also offers an up to 5% cash back each year on other travel and everyday business expenses. Companies are also able to give their employees the opportunity to earn “Aeroplan Rewards.” Employees can receive one “Aeroplan Mile” for every $2 of purchases charged to the corporate card. They also have the option to earn “Aeroplan Miles” twice as fast by enrolling in an upgrade program for an additional $75 per year which means cardholders can earn one “Aeroplan Mile” for every $1 of purchases charged to the card. In January, American Express rolled-out three co-branded charge cards with Air Canada. The new “AeroplanPlus Card,” “AeroplanPlus Gold Card,” and, “AeroplanPlus Platinum Card” reward users with 1.0 mile to 1.5 miles for each dollar charged. AmEx won the right to team up with Aeroplan after the court overseeing Air Canada’s restructuring opened up the airline’s card partnership contracts in April, 2003.

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ADS Closes Peebles Card Acquisition

Houston-based Stage Stores announced that it completed the sale of the Peebles private label credit card portfolio last week to a subsidiary of Alliance Data Systems. At the March 5th closing, the Company received net cash proceeds of $34.8 million, which approximated the amount of account balances outstanding on the closing date. Following closing, a portion of the net cash proceeds was utilized by Stage to pay off the outstanding balance under its $250 million revolving credit facility, leaving an invested cash balance of $23.9 million. Stage Stores acquired VA-retailer Peebles and its $34 million credit card portfolio in November. In mid-January, Stage Stores signed a deal to sell the 180,000 account Peebles’ private label credit card portfolio to Alliance Data, and entered into a relationship agreement with ADS through September 2013. (CF Library 10/8/03; 1/12/04)

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Speedpass Growth Slows After Speedy Expansion

After experiencing exponential growth in its first six years, ExxonMobil’s wireless payment system slowed last year to a 10% annual growth rate. Over the past five years, the “Speedpass” program has doubled in size from 3.0 million users to 6.0 million users. It was launched in May, 1997 by Mobil. This year the program is testing an option to enable users to manage their accounts online. One year ago, “Speedpass” launched a program for acceptance at three supermarkets in the Boston area. In 2002, Speedpass introduced a “Speedpass Timex” watch with a built-in transponder. Under the “SpeedPass” system, customers enrolled in the program simply wave a key tag or transponder in front of designated gasoline pumps. Customers pre-designate the credit card to be used for the transactions when applying for the new service. Mobile distributed one million “Speedpass” key tags in its first year. Mobil developed the system in cooperation with Texas Instruments and Dresser Industries. (CF Library 2/20/97)

Speedpass Historical
YEAR #USERS
1998: 1.0 million
1999: 3.0 million
2000: 3.5 million
2001: 4.0 million
2002: 5.5 million
2003: 6.0 million
Source: CardData (www.carddata.com)

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TransFirst Volume to Top $18B with a New Acquisition

Cincinnati-based Fifth Third Bank Processing Solutions has signed a deal to sell its third party and agent bank merchant division to Dallas-based TransFirst. With this acquisition, TransFirst will service more than 760 agent banks and process approximately $18.5 billion in annual sales volume for more than 150,000 merchants. The deal is expected to close on April 1st. Last year, TransFirst handled $11 billion in annual processing volume. Fifth Third Bank Processing Solutions processes nine billion ATM, POS and e-commerce transactions per year for more than 198,000 merchant locations and 1,550 financial institutions worldwide. TransFirst was founded in 1995 as ACS Merchant Services. The company was recapitalized in 2000 by GTCR Golder Rauner and changed its name to TransFirst. Since the recapitalization, TransFirst’s total capital base has grown to provide up to $450 million for strategic acquisitions and mergers. TransFirst previously acquired Money Tree Services, PulseCard, DPI Merchant Services, and, BA Merchant Services. Thomas Rouse is chairman and CEO. He previously helped found Affiliated Computer Systems and later, ACS Merchant Services.

TransFirst Historical
YEAR VOLUME
2000: $2.5 billion
2001: $3.1 billion
2002: $5.8 billion
2003: $11.0 billion
2004: $18.5 billion
Source: CardData (www.carddata.com).

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