ENGLISH SPAM

The British Computer Society has released a new report that reveals that
UK executives are spending upwards of two hours per day wading through
e-mail. The report says nearly a third of e-mail received is irrelevant and
of poor quality. Respondents to the survey were asked to approximate how
much time they spent on a list of seven common management tasks in an
average working day of 8.5 hours. Whilst meetings took up the largest
amount of time (2.8 hours on average), dealing with e-mail came second with
an average of 1.7 hours spent on this activity. Accessing information from
the Internet accounted for a further 0.75 of an hour. Respondents reported
receiving on average 52 e-mails per day while 7 per cent received 100
e-mails per day or more. Four out of five respondents have remote access to
their e-mail account and only a minority of 14 per cent uses a PA to manage
their e-mails. Managers reported that less than half of e-mails (42%)
warranted a response. About 35% were read for information only and nearly a
quarter were deleted immediately. On average only 30% of e-mails were
classified as essential, 37% as important and 33% as irrelevant and
unnecessary.

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Balcard Project

The Balcard Consortium, headed by Mellon Technologies, a Greek electronic transaction systems provider, has signed a license agreement to employ “Proton Prisma” for its smart card technology and infrastructure, with a major pilot set for the second quarter of this year. The “Balcard” project, launched in February 2002, is an EU co-funded project that aims to develop a framework for low-value cross-border transactions over the Internet through the use of smart cards. The project includes Balkan countries Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece and Romania. Card issuers involved in the project include Eurobank Cards from Greece, Bulgarian Post Bank, JCC Payment Systems from Cyprus and Bank Post from Romania. Bulgaria’s national card payment operator Borica and French card manufacturer SchlumbergerSema are also members of the Balcard Consortium.

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Bantec & US Dataworks

Dallas-based BancTec has inked an agreement to represent and resell the US Dataworks’ “Remitworks,” “MICRworks,” and “Returnworks” software. The strategic combination of BancTec’s leading edge remittance applications with US Dataworks’ ARC suite will provide a complete end-to-end solution that will allow corporate and retail lockbox remittance service providers the ability to convert checks to electronic items, known as Automated Clearing House (ACH) transactions.

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2002 Premiums Uptick

More than 9.5 million bank credit card accounts changed ownership last year as the result of portfolio sales, compared to about 4.8 million accounts that changed hands in 2001. The average premiums paid for the portfolios sold during 2002 averaged 18.4%, up from 18.1% in 2001, but down slightly from 18.5% for 2000. According to new data and revised prior data complied by Thousand Oaks, CA-based R.K. Hammer, more than 37 major portfolios changed hands last year, representing $23.8 billion in card assets. Hammer also reports that approximately 120 smaller portfolios, under $15 million each, were sold during 2002. The vast majority of the smaller portfolios were owned by credit unions. Hammer specializes in card portfolio valuations, fairness opinions and buy/sell/hold decisions.

PERFORMING PORTFOLIOS SALES

1986 1990 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002
Avg Weighted
Premium: 20.4% 18.7% 20.7% 17.7% 13.2% 13.1% 16.4% 18.5% 18.1% 18.4%
Major Assets
Sold: $1.6b $5.4b $0.91b $7.12b $20.8b $32.3b $19.4b $19.7b $12.0b $23.8b
Transactions: 3 26 19 21 22 26 21 36 25 37
Source: RK Hammer Investment Bankers (Thousand Oaks, CA)

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ACTIVCARD NASDAQ

ActivCard Corp. has launched its registered public exchange offer for the
purpose of changing the domicile of the publicly listed company of the
ActivCard group of companies, currently ActivCard S.A., to the state of
Delaware in the United States. The exchange offer expires at 12:00
midnight, New York City time, on February 3, 2003. If the exchange offer is
completed, the ActivCard Corp. common stock will be listed on Nasdaq
National Market and Nasdaq Europe under the symbol “ACTI”, replacing the
ActivCard S.A. ADSs and common shares. ActivCard is a major provider of
identity management software for remote access, single sign-on and digital
ID card solutions.

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British Email Burden

The British Computer Society released a new report this morning that shows UK executives are spending upwards of two hours per day wading through e-mail. The report says nearly a third of e-mail received is irrelevant and of poor quality. Respondents to the survey said reported receiving on average 52 e-mails per day while 7% received 100 e-mails per day or more. Managers reported that less than half of e-mails (42%) warranted a response. About 35% were read for information only and nearly a quarter were deleted immediately. On average only 30% of e-mails were classified as essential, 37% as important and 33% as irrelevant and unnecessary.

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FRB Consumer Advisory Council

The Federal Reserve Board has named Benjamin Robinson, currently SVP/Strategy Management Executive for Bank of America and formerly VP/Chief Privacy Officer of MasterCard International, and Clint Walker, General Counsel and Chief Administrative Officer of Juniper Financial Corporation, among the ten new members to the FRB’s Consumer Advisory Council for a three-year term. Previously, he was Vice President and Chief Privacy Officer of MasterCard International, and President and Chief Executive Officer, MasterCard Cardholder Solutions, Inc. His responsibilities included overall management of MasterCard Cardholder Solutions, Inc. and managing and implementing privacy policies, regulations, and compliance for MasterCard International domestically and abroad.

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BALCARD PROTON PRISMA

The Balcard Consortium, headed by Athens-based Mellon Technologies, an
electronic transaction systems provider, has signed a license agreement to
employ “Proton Prisma” for its smart card technology and
infrastructure, with a major pilot set for the second quarter of this year.
The “Balcard” project, launched in February 2002, is an EU co-funded
project that aims to develop a framework for low-value cross-border
transactions over the Internet through the use of smart cards. The project
includes Balkan countries Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece and Romania. Card
issuers involved in the project include Eurobank
Cards from Greece, Bulgarian Post Bank, JCC Payment Systems
from Cyprus and Bank
Post from Romania. Bulgaria’s national card payment operator
Borica and French card manufacturer SchlumbergerSema are also members of
the Balcard Consortium.

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Mortgage Originator Rewards

Phoenix-based Desert Document Services has launched a service to enable mortgage lenders, and their originators, to purchase mortgage documents online via credit cards with reward points awarded for each transaction. BrokerDocs and DesertDocs on the Web are the only all Web products in the mortgage document industry to include the transportation of closing documents via the Internet. This benefit adds a level of convenience for the user when changes to documents are needed because the user has access to closing documents via any Internet connection without being tied to a desktop system.

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CELLBUCKS GOLF

Toronto-based CellBucks Payments Network has installed a new wireless
payment service at Georgia USA’s Laurel Springs Golf Club. The CellBucks
service enables golfers to order food and beverages via their mobile phones
and have it caddied to them on the golf course. Once the customer has
selected their menu items, they’ll dial the toll free telephone number
provided on the menu and enter their pass code. The customer then selects
numbered items that correspond with the menu selections, routing them
through an automatic validation and credit card authorization process, with
a final order transmission through to the kitchen. The refreshments are
delivered to the customer and an e-mail detailing the day’s transactions
will also be sent to the customer as further confirmation of the member’s
account activity. The Laurel Springs Golf Course is owned and operated by a
joint venture between ClubCorp and Golden Bear International.

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Card Email Annoys

A new survey has found that email messages offering mortgages, loans or credit cards rank as the second most annoying kind of unsolicited email. While many people are annoyed by many different kinds of spam, messages selling pornography (91%), loan products (79%), investments (68%), and real estate (61%) annoy the largest number of people. According to the research of The Harris Poll, fully 80% say that they find spamming very annoying, a huge increase from the 49% who felt this way two and a half years ago. As a result of this hostility, an overwhelming 74% to 12% majority of those online favors making mass spamming illegal.

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Card Mail Soars

Despite a heavily saturated credit card market and rising consumer sensitivity to debt, direct mail volume for credit card offers increased 10% last year, by nearly 300 million pieces. Balance transfers were part of the package in approximately 60% of all acquisition offers last year. There was a growing trend to offer the balance transfer rate for 12 or more months. According to Mintel’s Comperemedia, toward the end of 2002, over 70% of the balance transfer offers were for 12 or more months, compared to 30% to 40% in the beginning of the year. The marketing research firm says that to-date, 37% of the offers tracked were at an 8.00% to 9.99% APR, compared to only 19% in 2001. In 2002, only 22% of the offers were over a 14% APR compared to 51% in 2001. While the majority of the cards offered have no annual fee, late fees have steadily risen. In the beginning of 2002, late fees were predominantly between $11 and $20 says Comperemedia. Now the majority are between $31 and $40 and many issuers tier their late fees based on the outstanding balance.

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