ECONOMIC RECOVERY

The Canadian economy is set for a nation-wide recovery in 2010 with real
GDP rising by 2.6% after having contracted at an average of 2.5% in
2009. Projections forecast continued expansion into 2011 at 3.9%, fueled
by improving credit conditions. With the labor market projected to
stabilize in early 2010, the 8.7% unemployment rate is subsequently
expected to rebound, thus generating increased consumer spending. This
research, according to RBC Economics’ report, suggests consumer spending
will increase by 2.3% in 2010 and 2.7% by 2011 thanks to low interest
rates and improving consumer confidence. However, unemployment will
remain high in 2010 and average 8.7% before falling to 7.8% in 2011.

HOLIDAY SHOPPER

Canadians are expecting to spend $891 this holiday season on average,
compared to $884 last year when the recession was tightening its
stranglehold on consumer confidence. Regionally, Albertans are planning
to spend $1,087, the highest, while those in Quebec will be spending
$814, the least. Atlantic Canadians will be spending an average of $798
on gifts alone while B.C. consumers will be spending only $547.
Additional findings, according to Scotiabank’s “2009 Holiday Spending
Study,” show the most popular gift being gift cards given by 53% of gift
givers; clothing given by 47%; and toys given by 40% while the most
sought-after gifts include gift cards by 44% of gift seekers;
electronics by 35% and cash by 35%.

3V VIRTUAL VISA

VendTek Systems, Peoples Card Services and Visa Canada have introduced
the “3V Virtual Visa,” Canada’s first prepaid virtual Visa program,
following an agreement with 3V Transaction Services online payments
company. Allowing customers to shop online or by phone using a prepaid
disposable 16-digit Visa number, used online just like a standard credit
card, the 3V voucher program will be introduced to the Canadian market
in December, available through participating Now Prepay serviced retail
outlets in denominations ranging from $20 to $500. Peoples will act as
the Visa issuer and VendTek will be responsible for marketing and
distribution of the 3V product. All parties are expecting to spend up to
$300,000 in marketing costs in the first year.

FRAUD SCAMS

The Competition Bureau is warning consumers to be on the lookout for
scams and other unplanned surprises. With new scams invented daily and
scam artists well organized with the latest technologies and strategies,
consumers are cautioned NOT to provide credit card information by email
or personal information via mail by invitation, especially on
suspiciously ‘great’ deals. The Bureau is also advising against
providing personal information via email and depositing checks and to be
on the lookout for offers requiring payments to claim a ‘prize.’ It is
also recommended that consumers check with other sources such as the Better
Business Bureau to determine a company’s credibility; think about the
offer and ignore high-pressure tactics often used by scam artists;
responding to collect a prize for a contest that you did not enter is a
huge red flag and if the offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is!

CLAIRMAIL & EBPSOURCE

ClairMail mobile banking and payment solutions and ebpSource
international e-billing, e-invoicing and payment have together formed a
distribution partnership. With this, ebpSource Limited will be the
Master International Distributor of the ClairMail mobile banking and
payment platform, which is ideally positioned to strengthen ClairMail’s
reach in the international marketplace. ebpSource’s integration
experience, track record of successful deployments and close strategic
relationship with its clients is a perfect complement to ClairMail’s
best-of-breed mobile banking solution. This partnership will provide
ClairMail with further extensive reach in the emerging international
mobile banking market and grant access to an already well-established
list of Tier 1 clients.

SMALL BUSINESS STRUGGLE

Among Canadian small business owners, 25% are not taking a raise; 23%
are refusing a bonus and 16% are taking a pay cut in order to recognize
employees and clients. Nevertheless, 12% fewer small business owners
will be giving their employees bonuses this holiday season Y/Y to 33%;
7% fewer intend to give to charity (33%); 5% less will give employee
gifts (37%) and 4% less will give client gifts (31%). This, according to
the American Express Small Business Holiday Monitor, are showing many
business owners are making up for it with 50% planning to treat their
employees to a party or dinner while 43% are planning to give employees
extra time off. Cost savings has become a priority, with 75% having
introduced some form of cost reduction policies in the last year; 48% of
whom having instituted longer working hours, 47% instituting pay
freezes, 45% reducing spending allowances and 23% having introduced pay
cuts in the past year. Additionally, 67% are “optimistic” for
improvement in the coming year.

MY SURPRISE CARD

Bridgewater Bank and POSATEL INC have partnered to launch the “MY
SURPRISE CARD” MasterCard-branded, non-reloadable, prepaid gift card.
Available in denominations of $25, $50 and $100 from retailers across
Canada, the “MY SURPRISE CARD” will begin to appear in retail outlets
across Canada including regional and national gas, convenience, and
general merchandise chains just in time for the Holidays. Montreal-based
POSATEL INC POS systems provider will design, market and distribute the
gift cards to participating retail outlets and provide the electronic
system that is used to process card authorizations and purchases while
Calgary-based Bridgewater Bank will issue the prepayment cards,
establishing procedures, monitoring fraud, and coordinate the settlement
processes.

VISA A/P Q2

Scotiabank has introduced two new mobile services, including its “Scotia
InfoAlerts” to notify customers via text message or e-mail of account
transactions. The other is an iPhone/iPod touch or Blackberry
application offering a GPS locator for Scotiabank branches and ABMs and
together are to offer full mobile banking services starting next spring.
Account information alerts for “Scotia InfoAlerts” include account
balances, Visa/Line of credit minimum payment due and specific Visa/LOC
balance reached while security-related alerts include payment card
transaction alerts, ABM withdrawal and deposit alerts and VISA use in a
foreign country at no cost. The GPS application also provides the user
branch hours.

MY SURPRISE CARD

Bridgewater Bank and POSATEL INC have partnered to launch the “MY SURPRISE CARD” MasterCard-branded, non-reloadable, prepaid gift card. Available in denominations of $25, $50 and $100 from retailers across Canada, the “MY SURPRISE CARD” will begin to appear in retail outlets across Canada including regional and national gas, convenience, and general merchandise chains just in time for the Holidays. Montreal-based POSATEL INC POS systems provider will design, market and distribute the gift cards to participating retail outlets and provide the electronic system that is used to process card authorizations and purchases while Calgary-based Bridgewater Bank will issue the prepayment cards, establishing procedures, monitoring fraud, and coordinate the settlement processes.

VISA CARGO

Catering to a world of increased global travel, Abbey International,
owned by Banco Santander, has partnered with Visa to make available its
suite of three cards for its clients, including Gold, Platinum and Visa
Infinite which are available exclusively to Abbey International Gold
current account holders. Offering an exclusive range of benefits
designed to Abbey International’s demanding brief, the Visa Infinite
card has been tailored to give clients enhanced levels of cover and
greater benefits, particularly for a wiser and more discerning
demographic, including an Airport Angel membership offering cardholders
access to over 400 airport lounges and a range of flight related
information services. The Abbey International Visa Infinite card is only
available to those Abbey bank account holders with at least GBP100k on
deposit and if there is over GBP250k in the account, all card membership
fees are waived.

ABBEY VISA

Catering to a world of increased global travel, Abbey International, owned by Banco Santander, has partnered with Visa to make available its suite of three cards for its clients, including Gold, Platinum and Visa Infinite which are available exclusively to Abbey International Gold current account holders. Offering an exclusive range of benefits designed to Abbey International’s demanding brief, the Visa Infinite card has been tailored to give clients enhanced levels of cover and greater benefits, particularly for a wiser and more discerning demographic, including an Airport Angel membership offering cardholders access to over 400 airport lounges and a range of flight related information services. The Abbey International Visa Infinite card is only available to those Abbey bank account holders with at least GBP100k on deposit and if there is over GBP250k in the account, all card membership fees are waived.