FIFA PROMOTION

Latin America travel services provider Despegar.com, Inc. and MasterCard International, an official sponsor of the 2002 FIFA World Cup Korea/Japan, announced a joint promotion. MasterCard will provide
free match tickets to its cardholders who purchase their vacations to Korea and Japan during the 2002 FIFAWorld Cup with a MasterCard card at Despegar.com. As part of the promotion, MasterCard will launch an aggressive online marketing campaign to communicate the benefits of the promotion to Despegar’s 3 million users. In addition, both companies will collaborate on a traditional media effort to further convey the promotional activities. Miami-based Despegar.com currently operates in 9 countries throughout Latin America, Spain and the US., employing more than 150 travel professionals regionwide.

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STRATUS CARD

U.S. Bank and Atlanta-based Skylight Financial have signed a contract to provide employees of BJC HealthCare with the Stratus PayCard Account. BJC HealthCare is one of the largest non-profit health-care organizations in the USA, with more than 26,000 employees and net revenues of $2.2 billion. The program being rolled out by BJC HealthCare allows employees of BJC several banking options which enable them to receive their payroll checks via direct deposit. They can elect either the U.S. Bank Work Place Banking account or the Skylight Stratus PayCard Account. The pre-approved Stratus PayCard Account is an FDIC insured, checkless account, which provides an alternative to check cashing companies for employees who do not have a bank account. The Stratus PayCard provides access to more than 200,000 ATMs (over 9,000 of those are surcharge free), and over 800,000 POS locations. Skylight Corporation initially formed an alliance with Firstar Bank in August 2000 to offer the “Stratus Card.” Firstar has since merged with U.S. Bank. (CF Library 1/25/02).

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OPC Acquired

CA-based Tier Technologies, Inc. announced this morning an agreement to acquire Official Payments Corporation for approximately $74.5 million in cash. Last year, OPC processed more than one million transactions totaling over $1.2 billion in tax and fee payments, and is a primary credit card payment partner of the IRS. OPC has an 87% market share of credit card payments made to the IRS and has annual revenue of approximately $32 million. The firm is currently the only company to offer consumers the ability to make integrated federal, state, and local tax payments. The company’s services enable consumers to pay their government taxes, fees, fines, and utility bills by credit card, via the Internet, and by telephone. Founded in 1996, OPC has agreements to collect and process credit card payments with the IRS, 21 state governments, and more than 1,200 counties and municipalities. The acquisition will expand Tier Technologies’ transaction processing business. Tier currently processes more than $2 billion in child support payments for eight states in the U.S. It is expected that Tier will retain the Official Payments brand, as well as its existing sales, marketing, engineering, and customer service operations and data center. Tier is a vertically-focused global consulting firm that provides business and information technology consulting, systems design and integration, transaction processing, business process outsourcing, and business process reengineering for its clients primarily in the state and local government, healthcare, insurance, and utilities markets. Tier reported first calendar quarter revenues, from continuing operations, of $22.1 million as compared to $26.4 million in the quarter ended March 31, 2001. Shares of Official Payments closed yesterday at $2, off a 52-week high of $6. The deal is expected to be completed by early August.

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AmEx Pakistan

Karachi-based Union Bank this week signed an agreement with American Express to issue Rupee-billed American Express Cards in Pakistan. The launch follows the signing of an Independent Operator Agreement between Union and AmEx in July 2001, under which Union Bank issues and markets American Express Cards in Pakistan, signs new merchant locations, and provides customer services to both cardholders and merchants in the country. Now consumers in Pakistan can choose to have either a US Dollar denominated American Express Card or a Rupee-billed Card. American Express established Global Network Services in 1997 to form strategic alliances with banks and financial institutions around the world to issue cards on American Express’ global merchant network. To date, GNS has built 76 partnership arrangements in close to 80 countries around the world.

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SAGEM CERTIFICATION

Paris-based SAGEM has been awarded the EMV level 2 certification by Europay International for its D-920 and D-950 payment terminals. SAGEM says it is among the first manufacturers to fulfill the software requirements set by EMV. The Company says the Level 2 accreditation as well as the deployment of smart cards in numerous countries will allow SAGEM to penetrate new markets and open new development perspectives.

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Banamex c2it

Banamex has launched an online money transfer service to enable customers to instantly transfer money from the U.S. Using Citibank’s c2it service, customers now have the option to directly deposit the money into a Banamex bank account or have the recipient pick up cash at any one of the more than 1,400 Banamex branches. Customers enroll in c2it and fund their c2it account from a U.S-based bank account or VISA/MasterCard bank credit card from any financial institution. Once the funds are available, they have the option to instantly send money directly to the recipient’s Banamex bank account. c2it also offers a guaranteed rate of exchange, so customers will know the exact amount of Mexican pesos being sent. Citibank, which owns Banamex, launched its c2it service in October 2000 and its international service in May 2001.

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Nasty Dibz

TX-based Dibz, Inc has signed Cory “Nasty” Nastazio, one of the most prominent names in BMX Freestyle, to provide Dibz exclusive online video and images, among other marketing opportunities, for purchase only with the new Dibz prepaid card. Through sponsoring and partnering with extreme “core” sports events and athletes, like Cory Nastazio, Dibz appeals to these young people who often have online access, disposable income, but no credit card. Dibz will provide exclusive online content of Cory Nastazio such as video trick tips, candid interviews, movie clips, photos, home video, mobile phone voice mail greetings, and other unique content available for purchase at the Dibz Launch Pit using a Dibz Powered Card.

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Segment Growth

Credit Unions are reporting higher average balances and volume than most other credit card segments. According to the May issue of RAM Research Group’s Bankcard Barometer, released this morning, average balances, per active account, among credit union portfolios are $2,562 compared to an average balance of $2,385 for the top ten U.S. issuers. Based on 1Q/02 data, credit unions reported an average first quarter volume of $1,231 per active account versus $1,096 for the top ten.

SECTOR MONITOR (1Q/02 vs 1Q/01)
BAL VOL
Cobranded/Affinity: $2471 $1143
Sub-Prime/Secured $1524 $ 489
Low Rate >$2 Billion $2393 $1088
Low Rate

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Chase Voyager

Corillian Corp. confirmed yesterday that JPMorgan Chase Bank has successfully converted to the Corillian Voyager Internet banking platform and launched its next-generation online banking service to all new and existing online banking customers. Chase customers will continue to have real-time, customizable access to most of their financial accounts to check balances, transfer money — now including wiring money to any U.S. bank accounts — and pay bills anytime and anywhere the customer has Internet access. Chase also leveraged the Corillian Voyager platform to maintain the additional features such as Direct Deposit of Payroll and Federal Tax payments that existed for their small business customers.

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CALL CENTER CLOSED

The Juarez call center for Kentucky-based National Processing will be closed by the end of this year, after 14 years of operations. NPC says it set up the operation to handle its former labor-intensive and paper-based operations. NPC’s assets in Mexico consist primarily of a voice-authorization call center and a vacant 58,000-square-foot-facility. The Company expects to record an after-tax charge in the range of $2.0 million to $2.5 million, in the second quarter of 2002, for severance costs, building and equipment write-downs, and related items.

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EPISUITE ID

San Diego-based ImageWare Systems has released its EPISUITE ID software solution in Chinese which enables users to design ID cards; capture photos, signatures and fingerprints; maintain a secure database of cardholder information; and encode magnetic stripes, bar codes, and smart chips. EPISUITE Chinese will be launched from ImageWare’s Singapore offices and will expand the company’s presence in the Asia Pacific.

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