TRAVEL CARD

VISA International launched an “International Travel Card” in
China. VISA says that market research shows only 5% of the 10 million
annual outbound travelers from China own international payment cards. The
study also found more than half of outbound travelers carry over US$1,000
in cash on each trip, VISA prepaid cards may be non-personalized, have an
expiration date, and can exist in the physical or virtual world. They can
be reloadable or disposable. They can be instantly issued. A range of VISA
travel cards now allow consumers to make purchases wherever “Visa Flag” or
“Visa Electron” are accepted and provide 24-hour access to funds in any
local currency.

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Certegy & Dialogue

Certegy says its use of Exstream’s “Dialogue” software has produced significant savings by streamlining and standardizing internal production processes to create and personalize more than 100 million statements and 30 million pieces of correspondence produced annually. With Dialogue, Certegy is able to offer financial institutions low-cost advertising opportunities by dynamically inserting logos and 1:1 marketing campaigns into documents to strengthen brand loyalty, promote products, inform of services, and relay other pertinent information to the recipient.

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Smart Barclaycard

Barclaycard has awarded Oberthur Card Systems a contract to supply its EMV smart cards for the next three years. Oberthur has been a long time partner of Barclaycard for the migration to UKIS and has supplied the bank with over 10 million such cards so far. With 40 million cardholders and 100 million payment cards in circulation, the United Kingdom is not only the biggest market in Western Europe but also the pioneer in the migration to smart cards with the first cards issued back in 1996.

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Cubic Border Security

Cubic Corp. says it is preparing to enter the border security market. Cubic is studying the application of high-security, smart card-based access control systems to increase the efficiency of pedestrian crossings on The Bridge at Las Americas. The system would incorporate biometric technologies such as fingerprint, facial recognition or iris scanning technology to grant or deny access to cardholders based on whether the information on the card matched the physical characteristics of the person at the port of entry.

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Boiler Rooms Crackdown

The Federal Trade Commission has charged a Toronto-based company with eight telemarketing boiler rooms with operating a fraudulent advance-fee credit card business. The telemarketers allegedly told consumers that they would receive pre-approved MasterCard or Visa credit cards with low interest rates, credit limits of $2,000 or $2,500, and no annual fees. Consumers paid the defendants by agreeing to have their bank accounts debited for the advance fee of $189 to $219. The complaint names 1492828 Ontario, Inc., doing business as First Capital Consumers Group, US Guardian United Consumers, Trans America United Benefits Group, Transglobal National Consumers Group, and First Guardian National Benefits, and its principals, David Dalglish, Leslie Anderson, Lloyd Prudenza, and Mark Lennox.

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Super Contactless Card

San Diego-based Cubic Corp. released its new “CUB132” contactless microchip, offering 32KB of memory, 16 times more than is currently available with the company’s “2KB GO CARD.” The “GO CARD” is currently in use by the Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority “SmarTrip” system. Cubic’s smart card technology also is in use by transit authorities in Chicago and on its way to being implemented in Minneapolis, Los Angeles and San Diego. The new Cubic chip represents the first availability of this kind of technology for smart card-based applications. Larger memory contactless cards are ideal for biometrics applications, such as digitized passport photos, fingerprints and medical information. The system also allows reloading from the Internet — providing a variety of security, industrial and government applications.

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LendingTree 3Q/02

LendingTree reported that during 3Q/02 the company processed 40,860 credit card requests and closed 33,266 of the transactions, which included cross-sell activity. The credit card activity produced $494,000 in revenue with an average revenue per transmit of $12.10. During the third quarter, LendingTree processed more than 300,000 mortgage requests, 90,000 home equity requests, and 106,000 auto credit requests. The company had 3Q/02 revenue of $30.9 million, 80% higher than the third quarter of 2001. The third quarter profit was $4.3 million favorable to the previous quarter’s loss and was $6.9 million favorable to the same quarter in 2001. The company has 189 participating lenders, an increase of nearly 50% over last year. For complete details on LendingTree’s 3Q/02 results visit CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]).

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

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Consumer Direct

Experian yesterday announced the formation of Experian Consumer Direct that combines the operations of CreditExpert and ConsumerInfo.com. The business of selling credit data to consumers has become a substantial business over the past twelve months. Equifax confirmed last week that its third quarter “Direct-to-Consumer” revenues increased 106% to $11 million. Experian’s consumer direct business took shape in April with the acquisition of ConsumerInfo.com from Homestore.com, Inc. for $130 million in cash. Since ConsumerInfo.com’s founding in 1995, the company has provided more than 5 million credit reports to U.S. consumers. Its Internet properties, which include CreditMatters.com, FreeCreditReport.com and QSpace.com, receive more than 10 million visitors monthly. ConsumerInfo was the first U.S. company to offer consumers online access to single-bureau credit reports, three-bureau credit reports and lender-style credit scores. The company recently announced that its “CreditCheck Monitoring Service” has reached 1 million members. About three-quarters of ConsumerInfo.com’s revenue is derived from membership subscriptions. For an annual subscription of $79.95, members can access their credit reports as often as desired, monitor their files monthly and receive advice on managing credit and debt levels. ConsumerInfo.com also sells individual credit reports, credit scores and other services at prices ranging from $9.95 to $44.95.

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ASK FUNDING

Sophia Antipolis-based ASK has closed a new round of financing of
US$15.8 million. Apax Partners enters into the capitalization of ASK
alongside three existing investors that contributed $3.2 million to this
round, CDC-Ixis Innovation, Credit Lyonnais Private Equity and the Banque
de Vizille. New investors AdAstra and iglobe partners invested $4.9
million in this round. Other existing investors are Advent Venture
Partners and LongTerm Partners. The additional funding enables ASK, which
will approximately double its sales to $20.9 million this year, to
accelerate its already strong growth. The investment comes at a time when
the worldwide market is developing rapidly, growing 46% in 2001 and
forecast to grow 58% in 2002. ASK will utilize the new capital to expand
its production capacity and to accelerate its international sales activity,
particularly in America and Asia.

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