MARTA Smart Card Contract Gets Underway

Thales e-Transactions’ request for a permanent injunction against MARTA in regard to the bidding for a new smart card-based fare collection system was denied yesterday. The decision paves the way for Cubic Transportation Systems to proceed on the $72.5 million contract to replace MARTA’s existing magnetic ticketing and token-based system with smart card ticketing technology. Cubic says the contract could be worth as much as $104 million if all options are exercised. Thales claimed MARTA did not follow proper procedures in the contract award and was looking to re-bid the contract. Thales’ legal challenge delayed the start of the contract by four months.

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NCR Files a Patent Infringement Lawsuit Over an Ingenico Terminal

Paris-based Ingenico is facing a patent infringement lawsuit from NCR over its “e(N)-Touch 1000” terminal. The NCR patent, issued in March, covers the transmission of an electronic credit card receipt with the captured electronic signature as a single integrated record. Ingenico says its terminal has never linked the signature and receipt in this manner. The Company says it is in the process of contacting its customers so that they are aware of and understand NCR’s “over-reaching” claim. Ingenico recently shipped its 300,000th “e(N)-Touch 1000” touch screen and signature capture terminal to major retailers in the USA. Ingenico says it will vigorously defend itself. Ingenico operates in the USA from Atlanta.

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HSN Extends GE Private-Label Card Contract

GE Consumer Finance has renewed its private-label credit card contract with HSN, the TV and Web retailer, through 2008. The HSN Charge Card provides for a range of exclusive cardholder benefits, including special savings events, private sales, special financing promotions, merchandise coupons and convenient online account management. HSN, an operating business of IAC/InterActiveCorp, originated the television shopping concept in 1977. GE Consumer Finance, a unit of General Electric Company, with $95 billion in assets, is a leading provider of credit services to consumers, retailers and auto dealers in 37 countries around the world.

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04 Debt Reduction is a Top Consumer Priority

A survey on New Year’s resolutions reveals that 28% of Americans want to get out of debt while 27% say losing weight and exercising is their top goal of 2004. This is the first in at least three years that more Americans have placed debt reduction above weight reduction, according to the “Cambridge Consumer Credit Index.” The survey also found that 15% want to get a more secure or better job, 13% want to improve their personal relationships, and 7% plan to reduce their drinking and smoking. The findings in the “Index” are the result of monthly nationwide telephone poll of 1000+ adults conducted by ICR/International Communications Research in the past week, sponsored by the Debt Relief Clearinghouse. In conjunction with the Index, Cambridge Credit Counseling also released the results of a monthly survey of people who have called in for credit counseling services. Over the past month, 33% said they are frustrated with high bank rates and fees, 7% said got into too much debt by overspending, and 8% said their lack of financial education caused them to take on too much debt.

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Retail Integration Specialist Joins POS Plus

MN-based POS Plus, a provider of refurbished/new IBM and NCR terminals, has hired Eddy Bellefeuille as VP/Consulting, Integration and Wiring. In this new position at POS Plus, Mr. Bellefeuille will manage the installation of POS equipment including cabling, cash wrap design, testing and employee training for new and existing customers. POS Plus is a worldwide provider of high quality refurbished and new IBM, NCR and other point of sale terminals, related scanners, controllers, peripherals and maintenance parts. With the addition of integration, wiring and installation services, POS Plus will be able to provide their customers with a seamless, one-stop experience in management and installation of their POS networks.

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Arthur Blank Launches a New Loyalty Card

Boston-based Arthur Blank & Co. is introducing next week a new combination of a loyalty card with a key tag. The new “ComboCard 1” comes with a standard wallet-size card, along with one key tag and two break-off promotional sections. It is also available in the traditional, “ComboCard”format (wallet-size card with two key tags and two promotional pieces). The products can also come with “Active Label,” which enables the retailer to instantly issue either “ComboCard” to their customer. Arthur Blank products include: private label loyalty, gift, phone, credit, debit, membership, security I.D. and access cards as well as complete card numbering and personalization.

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NCR and Ingenico Set to Battle a Process Patent

Ingenico is facing a patent infringement lawsuit from NCR over its “e(N)-Touch 1000” terminal. The NCR patent, issued in March, covers the transmission of an electronic credit card receipt with the captured electronic signature as a single integrated record. Ingenico says its terminal has never linked the signature and receipt in this manner. The Company says it is in the process of contacting its customers so that they are aware of and understand NCR’s “over-reaching” claim. Ingenico recently shipped its 300,000th “e(N)-Touch 1000” touch screen and signature capture terminal to major retailers in the USA. Ingenico says it will vigorously defend itself. NCR says it is sticking to its guns.

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PreCash Annual Volume Hits $1 Billion

Houston-based PreCash reported this week that payments on its nationwide network totaled $1 billion in 2003. PreCash reached this milestone through its exclusive offering of a simple and elegant alternative to customers who pay cash for subscription-based services such as cellular, Internet, cable/satellite television, etc. Unlike traditional cash payment methods, with the PreCash patented process, customers carry a reusable card that is permanently linked to their service account. PreCash has built the industry’s leading payment network that revolutionizes the way retailers and service providers collect cash payments for prepaid or postpaid subscription-based services. From its more than 22,000 retailers, PreCash is able to provide electronic access to the payment system to over 50 million Americans who do not have a credit card or bank account.

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GO Software Acquires the iAuthorizer Gateway

GA-based GO Software has acquired the assets and intellectual property of Atomic Software, and plans to redevelop the “iAuthorizer” gateway. As a result, GO Software plans to redevelop iAuthorizer and release an enhanced gateway product in the coming months. GO will continue selling, supporting and maintaining the dial-up Authorizer product for customers with existing integrations. GO Software is a leading provider of POS payment processing software. More than 85,000 businesses use GO Software’s solutions to process payments at high speed, expand tender types, and lower credit card costs.

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The November Revolving Credit Dip Returns

After two months of strong growth, consumer revolving credit for November dipped by $600 million. However, the one-month contraction was significantly better than November 2002, when revolving credit dropped by $900 million, or at a -1.40% annual pace. Revised figures, released Thursday by the Federal Reserve, also show that the October and September figures were better than previously reported. October’s revised annual growth rate is 4.3% compared to 3.6% reported last month. September’s revised annual growth rate is 6.8% compared to 6.5% previously reported. For November, consumers owed $739.4 billion in revolving credit, mostly credit card debt. Bank credit card debt (excluding store and gas credit cards) at the end of the third quarter was $645.7 billion, or roughly 88% of total revolving credit, according to CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]). At the end of November, Americans were $1994.6 billion in debt, excluding home mortgages.

REVOLVING CREDIT HISTORICAL ($billions)
Nov03 Oct03 Sep03 Aug03 Jul03 Jun03 May03
GRWTH: -0.9% 4.3 6.8 3.4 1.4 -2.4 7.7
$OWED: $739.4 740.0 737.3 729.1 726.8 725.9 727.9

Apr03 Mar03 Feb03 Jan03 Dec02 Nov02 Oct02
GRWTH: 3.4% 4.1 5.9 5.2 -6.7 -1.4 1.6
$OWED: $722.8 720.7 718.6 715.5 712.4 716.8 717.9

Source: Federal Reserve; revised figures as of 1/08/04;

For complete historical data visit CardData ([www.carddata.com][2])

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

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