PSO CARDS

Pakistan State Oil has launched two new credit cards, the “Fleet
Card” and the “Corporate Card.” The new cards, the first of its kind in
Pakistan, will join PSO’s card portfolio which also includes the “Loyalty
Card” launched in 2002. The new “PSO Fleet Card” is vehicle-specific, while
the “PSO Corporate Card” is employee-specific. The “PSO Fleet Card” enables
companies to set limits on individual fleet vehicle spending, and comes
embossed with the vehicle registration number along with the company or
fleet name. The “PSO Corporate Card” is a personalized credit card with
pre-approved fuel limit. The “Corporate Card” carries an annual membership
fee per card of Rs.100. There is also a 1.65% monthly service charge on
each bill. PSO launched its “Loyalty Card” in July 2002. The card entitles
customers to earn “PSO Loyalty Points” on every purchase of fuel or
lubricant. The points accumulated can be later redeemed from PSO’s
“Merchant-Consortium.” The card is free and is valid for a year. It also
offers a discount at a number of other merchants and restaurants in
Pakistan. In December, PSO signed an agreement with ABN Amro and Orix
Leasing to interface the “PSO Loyalty Card” and the “ABN-AMRO Debit Card.”
The interface entails an arrangement under which the magnetically encoded
loyalty card and debit card are transacted through Orix’s POS terminal and
the PSO network. The “PSO Loyalty Card” was distributed free-of-charge to
all ABN Amro debit cardholders in December and January.

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LendingTree 4Q/02

NC-based LendingTree reported this morning that it handled 51,182 credit card applications during the fourth quarter and closed 9.2% of the requests. The online loan referral service says its credit card activity produced revenues of $327,000 for the quarter. LendingTree closed a total of 7,264 credit card related requests during 4Q/02 for six total card issuers. Overall, during the quarter, the Company earned $5.6 million on posted revenue of $34.7 million. Revenue was up 12% over the same year ago period. LendingTree had 197 participating lenders at the end of 2002, representing an increase of 36% over last year. Loans available via the LendingTree Exchange include home mortgage, home equity, automobile, personal, debt consolidation, and credit cards. For complete details on LendingTree’s 4Q/02 results visit CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]).

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

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VISA POS Check Service

One of the first processors to pilot the VISA “POS Check Service” in 2001 has renewed its contract. First National Merchant Solutions has renewed its contract with Electronic Clearing House. VISA’s “POS Check Services” program allows merchants to receive immediate online authorization for paper checks, by converting them into electronic transactions. Checks drawn against participating member banks in the program are processed and settled electronically by VISA. Checks drawn on non-participating banks, VISA routes to ECHO, the selected third-party processor for First National merchants, and the checks are processed and settled by ECHO. First National has branded and marketed the service under the “CompletePay” name. First National, a wholly-owned subsidiary of First National Bank of Omaha, is estimating four times the growth of “Complete Pay” in 2003.

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Credit Standards

A survey of 59 U.S. banks has found that 15% have tighten standards on credit cards over the past three months. The “January 2003 Senior Loan Officer Opinion Survey on Bank Lending Practices” found that financial institutions continue to tighten lending standards and terms for commercial and industrial loans. There is also evidence that some banks are beginning to tighten standards on home mortgages. The share of banks tightening standards on residential mortgage loans edged up to 11% in January from 10% percent in the October survey. Notably, these were the first two indications of any noticeable tightening in over a decade. The net fraction of respondents that reported stronger demand for mortgages to purchase homes over the past three months dropped to 7% in January from 40% in the previous survey. Moreover, the share of banks reporting substantially stronger demand fell from 14% in October to 2% in the current survey.

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DIEBOLD ATM DEALS

Diebold says that during the fourth quarter it signed $8 million in ATM
deals with several financial institutions in India, more than $4 million
from financial institutions in Brazil, $3.2 million from a financial
institution in Indonesia, orders for more than $3.2 million from two
financial institutions in China, and, more than $2 million from a large
financial institution in Canada. Diebold’s fourth quarter profits were
$21.9 million on revenues of $525.8 million. However, ATM-related revenues
decreased 5.2% from $413.8 million for 4Q/01 to $392.5 million for 4Q/02.
The results included a one-time charge for the cost of settling a tax
dispute with the IRS. Diebold expects first quarter revenues to increase in
the mid-single digit range vs. prior year.

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Pakistan Oil Cards

Pakistan State Oil this morning launched two new credit cards, the “Fleet Card” and the “Corporate Card,” according to The RAM Report ([www.ramreport.com][1]). The new cards, the first of its kind in Pakistan, will join PSO’s card portfolio which also includes the “Loyalty Card” launched in July 2002. The new “PSO Fleet Card” is vehicle-specific, while the “PSO Corporate Card” is employee-specific. The “PSO Corporate Card” carries an annual membership fee per card of Rs.100 and there is a 1.65% monthly service charge on each bill. In December, PSO signed an agreement with ABN Amro and Orix Leasing to interface the “PSO Loyalty Card” and the “ABN-AMRO Debit Card.” The “PSO Loyalty Card” is currently being distributed free-of-charge to all ABN Amro debit cardholders.

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

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DITCH THE PITCH

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission announced a settlement with a group of
Canadian-based defendants, who allegedly defrauded hundreds of consumers by
pressuring them over the phone to purchase essentially worthless “credit
card protection” insurance for up to $369. The Commission filed its
complaint in October 2001 as part of the FTC’s “Operation Ditch the Pitch”
law enforcement initiative, which targeted deceptive out-bound (cold-call)
telemarketers and sellers. The latest settlement ends the FTC’s litigation
against Icon America, Inc.; 9066-3451 Quebec, Inc. doing business as Sierra
Enterprises; Mete Suatac; and Jonathan Parkinson. According to the
Commission, the individual defendants, who are based in Canada, have few
remaining assets, and the corporate entities are no longer in business.
Among other items, the order contains a suspended judgment for $1.5
million, the amount of Icon’s gross sales, and the approximate amount of
consumer injury, and requires the defendants to pay $25,000 that the FTC
may use for consumer redress.

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Incurrent Users

NJ-based Incurrent Solutions says that enrolled users of its online credit card banking have hit four million cardholders. According to Jupiter Research, by 2006, more than 50 million households will view their credit card bills online, with 52 million paying at least one bill online. The tendency for viewing and paying bills online will only increase as cardholders gain more experience and confidence.

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CO-OP Nabs Ellis

The CO-OP Network has named Ritchard Ellis, formerly with TransAlliance/EDS, as Sales Manager of Shared Branching for Service Centers Corporation, a subsidiary of CO-OP Network. Ellis, with 23 years of financial services experience, joins the organization after seven years as Director of Sales and Marketing for TransAlliance/EDS in Bellevue, Wash., where he managed the sales operation in 13 western states. In his new position, Ellis will be responsible for all SCC shared branching sales in North America.

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InstaPay President

San Diego-based InstaPay Systems has named Harry Hargens, formerly with Omron, GlobalPayments, and VeriFone, to the position of president. In 1995, as Director of Product Management, new markets for National Data (now Global Payments), Hargens created NDC’s first LAN product for multi-lane retailers such as grocers, enabling NDC to enter that vertical market for the first time. In January of 2000, Hargens became President and CEO of Kryptosima LLC, raising $1 million in venture capital in the most difficult equity market in a decade.

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SF Renews OPC

Official Payments Corporation has signed a contract renewal from the City and County of San Francisco through September 2004 to provide electronic collection of credit card payments for taxes, fines, and fees on behalf of four San Francisco city and county agencies. The renewals authorize Official Payments to continue its electronic collection of credit card payments for taxes, fines, and fees on behalf of four San Francisco city and county agencies: California Superior Court, County of San Francisco; Department of Parking & Traffic; Office of the Treasurer & Tax Collector; and the Public Utilities Commission.

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COUNTERFEIT CARDS

Tokyo police confirmed this week they seized more than 10,000
counterfeit credit cards in a single raid, the largest numbers of
counterfeit cards taken at one time.
They are now seeking a Chinese-Malaysian man in Malaysia in connection with
the scheme. The cards were allegedly smuggled from Kuala Lumpur to Narita
Airport by Japanese tourists who were paid about 1,000 yen per card. The
counterfeit cards were then encoded with data skimmed from legitimate cards
used in Japan. Police also found code readers and embossers during the raid
on the apartment located in Nakano Ward in Tokyo. The Chiba prefectural
police’s international investigation section and New Tokyo International
Airport Police Station are handling the investigation.

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