Western Union to Acquire a European Agent

Western Union has forged agreements to acquire Europe-based Angelo Costa S.r.l. money transfer network agents. Angelo Costa manages relationships with over 7,500 subagent locations across several countries in Europe. Western Union currently owns 30% of the company, and will acquire the remaining 70% for a cash purchase price of EUR100 million. The transaction is subject to regulatory approvals and satisfaction of closing conditions, and is expected to close in the first half of 2011.

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Phonemance Overtakes SMB Owners’ Romance

With 60% of small business owners spending more time on their mobile devices than with their significant others, the increasingly popular virtual office also offers increased productivity and a better work-life balance.Also, 43% work during hours spent with family; 68% who own a mobile device rely on just one for both personal and business use making it difficult to “switch off” during family time; while 56% are taking advantage of the “virtual office” spending less time working at their desk with the help of technology. This, according to the 5th Annual National Staples Small Business Survey, also shows 52% are more comfortable taking a vacation because they can stay plugged-in versus just 35% last year; and 40% of significant others don’t seem to mind the new ‘phonemancing’ behavior and support the small business owner’s need to work more to help make ends meet; but when asked whether they would feel greater withdrawal to go a week without their significant other than a day without their smart phone or mobile device, 63% said their partner.

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TechProcess Certified PCI DSS Compliant by ControlCase

ControlCase announced that India-based TechProcess Solutions has achieved PCI-DSS Certification for its “BillJunction Payments” online payments business. TechProcess Solutions Limited (TPSL) is one of India’s business solutions provider with a concentration in Payments, Back Office Management & Technology. TPSL has experienced a 25% growth over the past year in average transaction volumes for its online payment business and is currently integrated with over 500 of India’s major web merchants & 24 leading banks to effect payments through credit / debit / cash cards & net-banking. US-based ControlCase is a global provider of Governance, Risk and Compliance (GRC) software, professional services, managed compliance and security services and IT GRC Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions. It is also a Qualified Security Assessor (QSA) as certified by PCI Security Standards Council and an Approved Scanning Vendor (ASV).

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Element Payment Among 2011 Best Channel Vendors

Element Payment Services PCI compliant payment-processing for the second year in a row has been selected as one of the Best Channel Vendors by Business Solutions magazine. Selected for this award based on the survey results by participating Value Added Resellers (VARs) and Independent Software Vendors (ISVs), evaluating the innovation, features and reliability of Element’s technologies, a thorough review was conducted on the Company. Element Payment Services will be recognized for its 2011 Best Channel Vendor award in the January 2011 issue of Business Solutions magazine, as well as on the BSMinfo.com Best Channel Vendors Feature page, year-round.

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Carrefour Introduces Prepaid MasterCard

Romanians can now find the Carrefour MasterCard Prepaid Card in the cash lanes of all 23 Carrefour hypermarkets thanks to its partnership with Rev Worldwide. Carrefour is the first retailer in Romania to sell and reload prepaid cards. The newest offering in the retailer’s broad range of financial products and services, the Carrefour MasterCard Prepaid Card brings Romanian consumers the freedom and security of spending with plastic and the ability to send money domestically or check balances with a simple text message, no bank account or credit check required. Financial products and services available in Carrefour hypermarkets include the Carrefour MasterCard Credit card; consumer loans; MoneyGram money transfer; bill pay; mobile top-ups for operators including Orange, Vodafone, Cosmote and Zapp; and home, travel and other insurance products from Otto Broker.

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Consumer Economic Index Drops in December

The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index dropped 1.8 in December to now stand at 52.5 (1985=100) from 54.3 in November. The Present Situation Index declined to 23.5 from 25.4 while the Expectations Index decreased to 71.9 from 73.6. The percentage of consumers claiming business conditions are “bad” decreased to 41.2% from 42.9%; those claiming business conditions are “good” declined to 7.5% from 8.5%; those saying jobs are “plentiful” decreased to 3.9% from 4.3%; and those stating jobs are “hard to get” was up to 46.8% from 46.3%. Meanwhile, those expecting an improvement in business conditions over the next six months was up to 16.6% from 16.4%; those anticipating business conditions will worsen edged down to 12.1% from 12.4%; those anticipating fewer jobs in the months ahead increased to 19.5% from 19.1%; and those expecting more jobs declined to 14.3% from 15.1%.

CB LEI % +/(-)
OCT: 0.5
SEP: 0.5
AUG: 0.1
JUL: 0.1
JUN: (0.2)
MAY: 0.4
APR: N/A
MAR: 1.4
FEB: 0.1
JAN: 0.3
DEC: 1.2
NOV: 0.9
DEC: (1.8)
SOURCE: CardData.com

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40% of Americans Less Secure Financially Y/Y

With 40% of Americans feeling less financially secure than the year ago period, 30% are giving President Obama positive ratings on the job he is doing on the economy. With this, 70% give him negative ratings; 42% feel less secure now while 36% feel just as secure and 19% say they now feel more secure. This, according to Harris Interactive, also shows last year 56% felt less secure about their financial situation when compared to the previous year. Additionally, 26% expect the economy to get worse in the coming year; 29% expect it to get better; 45% say it will stay the same; 34% thought the economy would be getting better; 41% said it would stay the same and 25% believed it would get worse. Meanwhile, 49% will cut back on their household spending; 22% will get rid of one or more credit cards; 22% will save more for retirement and 13% will undertake home improvements that increase the value of their home.

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China MediaExpress Launches New Shopping Platform

China MediaExpress Holdings television advertising operator on inter-city and airport express buses has introduced its “SWITOW” B2C shopping platform for its contracted advertisers. The SWITOW shopping platform includes: a) the SWITOW magazine that will be distributed in CME’s network, b) the SWITOW website (www.switow.com) and c) boutiques to be opened in certain major cities. Through the SWITOW platform, our advertisers will be able to promote a wide range of their products including popular consumer items such as electronic appliances, computers, mobile phones, apparel, fragrances and cosmetics, and household items. Customers may place orders by either calling the SWITOW hotline, or via the SWITOW website.

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Euro Leading Economic Index Up .7%

The Conference Board Leading Economic Index (LEI) for the Euro Area increased 0.7% in November to 114.3 (2004 = 100), following a 0.3% increase in October and no change in September. The Conference Board Coincident Economic Index (CEI) for the Euro Area measuring current economic activity dropped 0.1% to now stand at 102.6 (2004 = 100) according to preliminary estimates. This after having increased 0.2% in October and dropping 0.1% in September. The Conference Board LEI for the Euro Area aggregates eight economic indicators that measure activity in the Euro Area as a whole (rather than indicators of individual member countries), each of which has proven accurate on its own. Aggregating individual indicators into a composite index filters out so-called “noise” to show underlying trends more clearly.

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InComm Donates $7.5K in Gift Cards

GA-based InComm prepaid company and distributor of Vanilla Visa network-branded gift card has donated $7,500 of Vanilla Visa Gift Cards to Chick-fil-A Bowl. In 2009, the Chick-fil-A Bowl made $1.2 million in charitable and scholarship contributions, marking the second straight year it has reached that amount. It was also the third straight year in which the Bowl has given over $1 million in donations. The Chick-fil-A Bowl remains the number one bowl in the nation in terms of charitable giving.

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Vesdia Program to Help Card Issuers Keep Revenue

Vesdia Corporation merchant network has responded to last week’s Federal Reserve proposal to reduce the debit interchange to $.12 from a weighted average of $.72. This equats to an 83% reduction in fee revenue, subsequently reminding banks of the value a merchant-funded rewards network brings to the table. With this, Vesdia is seeking to limit the amount of money that stores and other merchants are charged each time a customer pays for a transaction with a debit card. A rewards network can help card issuers recapture the expected lost revenue while providing value-added services to their cardholders. In doing so, Vesdia’s partnership marketing network taps into the trusted relationship between the banks and its customers, utilizing the banks’ frequent touch points to conduct one-to-one marketing, driving cardholders to participating merchants to earn additional rewards when using their debit card. Card issuers gain additional revenue from the increased card acquisition, activation and usage generated by the merchant-funded rewards and additional redemptions. Vesdia’s full service multi-channel marketing campaigns and support for customer targeting and segmentation, in partnership with the leading merchant brands, allows banks to drive customer behavior with meaningful offers with expanded marketing reach; coupon programs; direct email; and loyalty program website personalization.

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