Blackhawk Network Offers Virtual Cards

Gift card provider Blackhawk Network has launched the “E-Gift Cards” virtual gift card program.
Visitors to GiftCardMall.com select the “Retailer E-Gift Card” and customizes the
gift with the amount to give in a themed greeting design, along with a personalized message.
The recipient will receive the “E-Gift Card” within hours, including greeting card
message, via email, thereby allowing the recipient to use it right away.
Recipients can either print out their card to use as payment for
in-store purchases or type in the card number for online purchases, just
as they would when using a credit card or any prepaid card. GiftCardMall.com has unveiled a
new site design, making it easier for consumers to find the perfect gift
card while providing expanded gift card options and services during the
checkout process. In addition to the already-popular gift card
customization features on the site, new customization options such as
premium greeting themes are now available to accompany gift cards sent
through regular mail. GiftCardMall.com has grown to feature a wide variety of gift cards from
Blackhawk Network’s award-winning Gift Card Mall as well as exclusive
offerings for holidays and occasions throughout the year.

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Credit Card Solicitations Drop to 1.8B in 2009

Based on figures through the third quarter it appears the total number of credit card direct mail solicitations will come in at 1.8 billion, compared to 3.9 billion in 2008. According to CardWatch.com the 54% decline is driven by the new “CARD Act” regulations, higher underwriting standards and poor response. In the third quarter the number of solicitations dropped 70% year-over-year and 7% sequentially. However, there was clearly a pick up in mail activity in the fourth quarter as issuers launched new “Card Act” compliant products and sought new customers for the holiday season. According Mintel Comperemedia the estimated number of credit card solicitations for the third quarter was 391 million, compared to 419 million for the second quarter and 1337 million for 3Q/08. In October issuers sent 180 million credit card offers to U.S. consumers. This was the highest monthly total tracked since December 2008 and it’s the first significant rise in mail volume all year. During October Chase and American Express sent the most credit card offers. For a library of scans of direct credit card offers visit CardWatch.com. (CF Library 11/2/09; 11/20/09)

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INTELLECT GUB

Bank Sohar has signed up for Polaris Software Financial
Technology’s “Intellect GUB 10.0” Debt Management solution, allowing
control on receivables and to minimize delinquent accounts. The
“Intellect GUB” Debt Management Solution (Intellect Collect) is a
comprehensive debt collections system that enables Banks to design
strategies to collect outstandings from their customers and effectively
control the rising tide of delinquencies. Intellect Collect is a single
platform that facilitates customer based collections across multiple
products, and has been implemented in four leading banks in the Middle
East region. Polaris will follow Accelerated Implementation Methodology
(AIM) to enable the business ‘go live’ in 8 weeks.

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2009 Holiday Retail Sales Still Running 1% Lower

Based on data thus far it looks like overall retail sales will be down about 1% for the holiday season. However, e-commerce holiday sales are up about 4% and debit card usage is up 10%. Americans are projected to use general purpose credit/debit cards and store credit cards to charge about $126 billion in retail purchases this holiday season, compared to $136 billion last year and $148 billion in 2007. The figures exclude travel, everyday and business expenses. The National Retail Federation forecasts that sales will decline to $437.6 billion for 2009, compared to $447.5 billion last year. According to comScore e-sales peaked on Tuesday, December 15th instead of “Cyber Monday” December 14th. Total e-sales of $913 million set an individual day spending record, the first such day to surpass the $900 million threshold. According to the Chase Paymentech “Cyber Holiday Pulse Index,” which tracks top retailers only, peak sales of $339.5 million hit on Wednesday, December 16th.

Holiday Card Volume
(four weeks ending 12/25)
2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 Y/Y Gain
Credit: $ 77.1 b 85.6 92.2 77.1 63.5 -13.6%
Debit: $ 28.2 b 35.3 41.0 45.6 50.2 +10.0%
Store: $ 14.7 b 13.9 15.1 13.0 11.8 – 9.2%
TOTAL $120.0 b 134.8 148.3 135.7 125.5 – 7.5%
Source: CardData (www.carddata.com)

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CardTrak.com Names Ten Best New Cards of 2009

With new credit card rules in place the top issuers launched more consumer and business friendly products in 2009. Among the best new card products of the year is a truly “green” card and a debit card with discounts for teens. CardTrak.com has compiled a list of the ten best new cards of 2009. And the winners are: 1. Gconomy Visa; 2. Chase Ink; 3. BofA Basic Visa; 4. Citi Forward; 5. Chase Sapphire; 6. AmEx Gold Premier Rewards; 7. Discover Current; 8. U.S. FlexPerks Visa; 9. Priceline Visa; and 10.BBVA Compass ClearPoints. The “Gconomy Visa” offers points for each purchase, donates a portion of every purchase to a “green” schools program, and rewards households for recycling. The Chase “Ink” card is a new business card portfolio that includes four distinct cards and marks the issuer’s first introduction of a pay-in-full charge card. The “BankAmericard Basic Visa” has simplified rates and terms offering the same APR for purchases, balance transfers and cash advances. The “Citi Forward” credit card lowers the purchase interest rate by a quarter percent when cardholders use credit wisely and rewards them with points has emerged each billing period for paying on time and staying under the credit line has emerged. The Chase “Sapphire” is targeted at the upper 15% of U.S. households in income and offers no preset limit, offers personalized customer service and is linked Chase’s “Ultimate Rewards” program. The American Express “Premier Rewards Gold Card” offers the opportunity to earn triple “Membership Rewards” points on airfare purchases, double points on gas and grocery purchases, and one point for all other purchases. The Discover “Current” card isa debit card for teens that offers members-only in-store coupons and online discounts at hundreds of merchants. U.S. Bank “FlexPerks Travel Rewards” earns double points for spending on gas, groceries or airline purchases – whichever is highest for the customer during the month as well as double points on most cell phone related charges. Barclays launched the “priceline.com Visa” enables cardholders to use their points as soon as they post to the account (typically within two days). Sunbelt-based BBVA Compass introduced the “BBVA Compass ClearPoints” credit card that features clear, simple and transparent terms and conditions, as well as pricing terms that will never change.
For more details visit CardTrak.com.

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Power Moms Prefer Cash and Debit

Online bargain shopping network CheapToday has released the results of
a survey that indicate “Power Moms” prefer cash and debit this holiday
season.CheapToday regularly surveys its Power Mom subscribers to monitor their
buying behavior, attitudes and trends. When asked, “By which payment
method will you have purchased the majority of your holiday gifts this
year?” 134 CheapToday Power Moms responded and the results were as follows:
43% reported using Visa for their holiday purchases, preferring the
debit payment option over the credit payment option, with 32% reported using cash or check
payment for their holiday purchases; 14% reported using MasterCard for their holiday purchases, preferring
the debit payment option over the credit payment option; 3% reported using retail store credit cards such as those provided by
Walmart; 2% reported using their American Express Card and 6% reported using other options such as gift cards and the Discover Card

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DEBIT ADVANTAGE

Excluding Europe, consumers around the world lose track of about $24 in cash spending each week. The new survey reveals that Australians reported the largest cash disappearance, both in terms of actual amount lost ($59) and also percentage of total spend (34%). Conversely, adults in India reported only $8 missing weekly, which is actually 31% of their total weekly cash spend. The survey commissioned by Visa is aimed at bolstering debit card usage globally. Consumers around the world report they are unable to account for 20% of their cash spending. Compared to 12 months ago, the cash-oriented countries of Russia (38%) and India (74%) believe they are losing track of more cash at a significantly higher rate than U.S. consumers do (13%). Consumers in Korea (74%) and South Africa (71%) either “strongly agree” or “agree” that use of debit cards keeps “mystery spending” to a minimum. Shopping for food or other groceries (43%), leisure shopping and/or shopping for nonessentials (33%) and out for the night or socializing (32%) were the top spending categories around the world where consumers feel they lose track of spending.

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MONEYSTAND & CPI

Those who live off the interest of their accumulated wealth to subsidize
their pension may actually be poorer in real terms by keeping money in
certain accounts. This is due in part to the worsening interests rates
offered by the banks, creating an environment in which taxpayers are
better off investing their money into gold bullion than they are with
savings accounts, and to the Consumer Prices Index rising beyond
economists’ expectations from 1.5% to 1.9% in one month. With the
Consumer Prices Index rising, according to MoneyStand.co.uk, basic rate
taxpayers need their banks to provide a minimum savings rate of 2.375%
before seeing any real return on their investments while higher rate tax
payers need a sizeable 3.166%. In reality, currently only 9 out of 744
variable rate savings accounts available in the UK actually offer an
interest rate higher than this.

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GE Money to Power the EcoQuest Card

GE Money has signed a multi-year agreement to offer a credit card to DBG for the “EcoQuest” line of air and water purification
products. The private label financing program provides attractive
financing programs and special credit promotions that simplify payment
options on initial and
on-going purchases. Key benefits of the program include, 24-hour online
account
access, promotional financing and low minimum monthly payments. In
addition, the credit card can be used for purchases wherever GE Money’s
Home Design program is accepted. EcoQuest air and water purification
products are sold through a network of independent business owners who are
committed to providing affordable products and services that enhance the
health,
wellness and comfort of its customers and their families.

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FNDS3000 CARDS

FNDS3000 financial transaction processing services company has completed
the “Market Test Phase” and has commenced deployment of its card
processing operations in South Africa. The test ensures stability,
confirming and validating the processes and systems required to handle
the higher volume of prepaid card processing. The Market Test was
conducted by continuing the distribution of cards to corporate clients
while simultaneously stress-testing the processes and systems, by
increasing the number of transactions handled and continuing to meet
service expectations. FNDS3000 surpassed the 50,000 card threshold in
early November and enter this next phase with approximately 70,000 cards
distributed to corporate clients, consisting of 37 contracted customers
with 11 more customers under active negotiation.

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Sheshunoff Offers New Reg E Service

TX-based Sheshunoff Consulting + Solutions has introduced a new consulting service to assist financial institutions in
designing a comprehensive approach to the new Regulation E. The key offerings include: communication approaches that target customers most
affected by the new regulation, system considerations and impacts and identification of process gaps. SCS consultants enable institutions to implement the new requirements and integrate them
into the institution’s current and future overdraft program with the “Reg E Customer Communication Toolkit” that includes
sample letters, scripting, customer brochures, timelines and checklists to start identifying and contacting relevant customers.
The final ruling of “Reg E” requires institutions to have customers opt-in to overdraft services before charges can be
assessed on ATM and one-time debit card transactions. Institutions can continue assessing fees on existing accounts until
August 15, 2010. Accounts that are opened as of July 1, 2010 require a
customer’s consent before fees can be charged.

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