The Conference Board Leading Economic Index decreased by 0.6% in December to 93.8
The LEI has been declining for a year and a half and is now9.9% below its most recent peak level in June 2007. Meanwhile,
The Conference Board Coincident Economic Index (CEI) for the U.K., a
measure of current economic activity, rose 0.1% in December following a 0.1 percent decline in November
and no change in October. The CEI now stands at 103.9.
The Conference Board LEI for the U.K. aggregates seven economic
indicators that measure activity in the U.K., each of which has proven
accurate on its own. The Conference Board Leading Economic Index for the Euro Area was
launched in January 2009. This index aggregates eight economic
indicators that measure activity in the Euro Area as a whole (the bloc
of countries that now constitute the Euro Area, defined by the common
currency zone) rather than indicators of individual member countries.

Former Visa Execs Create Noca Payments Startup

A group of former Visa executives have teamed to launch a firm that
offers merchants a payment option that is nearly devoid of transaction
fees. At the heart of Noca’s new system is “Secure Check,” that enables
consumers to pay using their bank accounts directly from a merchant’s
site. Merchant fees start at 0.25% or less per transaction.
Pankaj Gupta is the Founder and President and formerly was Chief Network
Architect and Director of Network Security at Visa. S. Randy Nott is the
Chief Architect and Acting VP, Engineering of Noca and was formerly a
consultant helping VISA architect its web applications paradigm. Michael
Horkey is VP/Business Development and formerly served as VP/Sales at
Click and Buy, an international e-wallet services company. The new
company is funded by angel and group investors, including former PayPal
executives. Noca notes that all data is stored at a secure, offsite data
center that is certified PCI compliant.

iPhone/iPod Adds Blaze Mobile Wallet

CA-based Blaze “Mobile Wallet” has been added to the Apple App Store. iPhone and iPod Touch users will be able
to purchase movie and event tickets, manage bank accounts at more than
8,000 supported financial institutions, view electronic receipts, and
quickly and easily create expense reports. The Blaze Mobile Wallet enables
fast and easy “contactless” purchases – as well as fund transfer, banking, and personal finance

Identity Fraud Impacts 10MM Americans in 2008

A new study has found that the number of identity fraud victims has increased 22% to 9.9 million adults in the U.S., while the total annual fraud amount only increased slightly by seven percent to $48 billion over the past year. Javelin Strategy & Research also found that
the mean consumer costs of identity fraud plummeted by 31% to $496 per incident in 2008. Additionally, the study found that women were 26% more likely to be victims of identity fraud than men this past year. Fraudsters are moving much more quickly as 71% of the fraud incidents began occurring in less than one week from when the data was first stolen, up from 33% in 2005. This dramatic increase points to more sophisticated attacks by fraudsters and an increasing number of attacks of opportunity where people or businesses leave data exposed. Approximately 1.8 million more adults fell victim to identity fraud in 2008, compared to 2007. This is the first year-over-year increase since Javelin began collecting data in 2004, when 4.25% of the overall adult population in the U.S. was victimized. The greatest increase occurred in fraud on existing card accounts, rather than the crimes which have a more severe impact such as opening new accounts.

USA Technologies Rides Out a Rough Quarter

PA-based USA Technologies reports total revenues of $2.7 million for the fourth calendar quarter, a 23% decline from the prior year. Gross profit for the quarter was $665,129, compared with a gross profit of $1,042,910 for the corresponding quarter in the previous fiscal year.
During the quarter USAT introduced and neared completion of its improved and lower-cost “ePortG8” and “ePort Edge” products, which at $199, have a larger addressable market than its current products; entered a three-year joint marketing agreement with First Data to jointly market and sell to vending operators and soft-drink bottlers in the U.S. a prepaid vending solution using USA Technology’s “ePort” device and First Data’s “GO-Tag” contactless payment presentation device; and entered into an agreement where Air-serv will enable their kiosks to accept credit cards with USA Technologies’ “ePort” and “ePort Connect Service”.
During the quarter, the Company processed approximately 5.1 million transactions totaling over $10.6 million as compared to approximately 2.4 million transactions totaling over $7.7 million during the corresponding quarter of fiscal 2008, an increase of 113% in transaction volume and 38% in dollars processed. For complete details on USAT’s latest performance visit CardData ([](


MasterCard will become the Official Worldwide Partner and official
payment system of Rugby World Cup 2011. The Rugby World Cup is a
prominent global property with
television coverage of Rugby World Cup 2007 spanning more than 200
territories, reaching a
cumulative audience of 4.3 billion viewers. As part of the agreement,
MasterCard secures a comprehensive rights and benefits package that allows
the company to deliver value to customer financial institutions,
merchants and cardholders, including
the ability to access “Priceless” experiences linked to Rugby World Cup
The relationship with Rugby World Cup 2011 also provides opportunities
to support a number of the
company’s strategic priorities, including reaching affluent cardholders;
a platform to capitalize on cross-border travel; driving brand affinity
as the exclusive payment provider and
global presence. The Tournament has seen broadcast coverage increase
every quadrennial, providing MasterCard with increased opportunity for
brand visibility. For
example, the most recent Rugby World Cup witnessed a 57% increase in
broadcast coverage from
5,414 hours in 2003 to 8,499 in 2007.

Credit Card ABS Performance Continues to Soften

After posting the largest one month drop on record in November, average monthly payment rates for credit cards rebounded in December to
17.27%. Portfolio yields normalized to 17.21% after last month’s drop caused by day count issues in November. FitchRatings says that although yield is 245 basis points lower than last year, this is attributable to the drop in prime rate, which is down by over 300 basis points year-over-year. Fitch anticipates charge-offs will breach 8% in the coming months and approach 9% during second half-2009. Deterministic stress testing on Fitch rated trusts indicate existing ratings can withstand such scenarios with potential negative rating actions limited to subordinate classes. Retail Card charge-offs were flat to month earlier and retail card delinquencies rose further. At 10.51%, Fitch’s “Retail Card Charge-off Index” remains 44% above year earlier levels. Despite climbing 12 basis points to 5.20%, the rate of increase in Fitch’s “Retail Card Delinquency Index” slowed for the second straight month. Retail card excess spread (three-month average) dropped to 8.49% from 9.34% largely due to a decline in portfolio yields. MPRs remain low but seasonal trends show an average increase in the January collection period of 80-120 bps in prior years.


Universal Air Travel Plan has launched its re-designed public web site: The new site focuses on UATP’s core corporate charge card
program, as well as UATP’s new and successful business lines including:
alternate forms of payment processing; USS, UATP’s settlement service
for low-cost carriers, travel
agencies and other merchants; prepaid cards and gift cards and travel
protection plans – insurance program for the travel industry
The new design features vastly improved navigability, enhanced internal
search engine, upgraded events and press section as well as improved
UATP information for Issuers, Merchants and corporate customers alike.
New features to the site include information available in several
micro-sites in Chinese, French, German, Japanese Portuguese and Spanish.
Additional micro-sites will be added as UATP continues to expand its
international reach. UATP had a record year in 2008 with approximately
US$12 billion in total
charge volume.

TNB Card Services Inks Salem CU

TNB Card Services has acquired the card processing of VA-based Salem Credit Union. Salem VA chose TNB for its
management capabilities and tools, marketing programs, member-friendly
service, and expertise at growing credit union credit card portfolios. With
outstanding balances of $3.4 million, the credit union recognized that
its Classic card and single rate offering limited the number of members
it could serve. Salem VA will engage TNB’s portfolio consulting team to assess the
portfolio and make strategic recommendations to ensure the credit union
is offering the most appealing products along with rates that will
increase cardholders and drive usage. Salem VA Credit Union has 9,500 members


Accor Services and MasterCard Europe have teamed to form a JV called: “PrePay Solutions.” The joint venture makes Accor Services the
majority shareholder at 67%, while MasterCard Europe holds a 33% stake in the company. PrePay Solutions markets prepaid card-based solutions that enable corporations, public sector and financial corporations to reduce costs and enhance efficiency. Both organizations and consumers benefit from the ease, security and convenience of card-based solutions in areas such as rewards and loyalty, gifting, expense management, and card payment for under banked people. The creation of PrePay Solutions is underpinned by Accor Services’ subsidiary PrePay Technologies – a U.K. market leader in prepaid cards – and acquired in 2007 by
Accor Services. PrePay Technologies’ nine-year strong marketing and
operating experience has already helped to bring more than 20 million cards covering a broad range of prepaid solutions to the UK, and also includes a licence to issue e-money in 17 European countries.

Western Union Signs a 5-Year A&P Deal

Western Union has signed a renewal with grocery retailer A&P to continue
money transfer, money order, and bill payment services. A&P will also
continue to build awareness of the “Western Union Gold Card Rewards Program
A&P operates 445 stores in 8 states and the District of Columbia under the
following trade names: A&P, Waldbaum’s, Pathmark, Best Cellars, The Food
Super Foodmart, Super Fresh and Food Basics.

Equifax Offers a Free 3-Bureau Report

Equifax is offering instant online access to a free three bureau credit
report and FICO score until the end of March.
Consumers should visit to take advantage
of the offer. Equifax leverages one of the largest sources of consumer
and commercial data,
along with advanced analytics and proprietary technology, to create
customized insights that impacts the performance of businesses and
the lives of consumers.