First Data and Sovereign Bank Renew

First Data Corporation has extended its merchant services agreement with Sovereign Bank.
First Data will continue to provide merchant processing services to
Sovereign’s business and commercial customers throughout the
northeastern United States, allowing Sovereign to offer a full suite of
electronic payment products and services including credit, debit, check
and gift card programs. Sovereign Bank, a subsidiary of Banco Santander, S.A., is a financial
institution with principal markets in the northeastern United States.
Sovereign has more than 750 branches, over 2,300 ATMs and approximately
9,700 team members and is one of the top 20 merchant
acquirers in the United States with more than 60,000 merchants.

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PREPAID CONSUMERS

Despite efforts to promote them as a solution to payment card fraud,
only 33% of UK consumers don’t know what a pre-paid card is while 23%
know what they are but don’t understand how they work. With over 25
types of pre-paid cards on the market in Britain, only 12% of people
have actually purchased one, half of which purchased it more than six
months ago and 45% acquired the card to make online purchases. This,
according to research released by TNS and VRL, also shows the cards are
being used by 24% to budget more easily; 20% are using them to spend
money abroad; and 8% are using them to manage money they give to their
children. Meanwhile, among those who hadn’t purchased a pre-paid card,
46% did not know about initial or monthly fees; 26% assumed there were
no monthly fees; and 40% weren’t aware of paying any monthly fees.

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AmEx Leads Dunkin Donuts’ Auto-Recharge

American Express is ‘charged up’ to be the ‘Official Card Partner of
Auto-Recharge’ from Dunkin’ Donuts. By using the American Express Card to sign up for “Auto-Recharge”, the
automatic reloading feature on the Dunkin’ Donuts Card, American
Express Cardmembers will receive a 20% bonus on each
Auto-Recharge transaction of $25 or more. For every $25 Auto-Recharge,
American Express will automatically load an extra $5 onto the Dunkin’
Donuts Card. This promotion for American Express Cardmembers is
available now through March 31, 2010. In 2008, Dunkin’ Donuts’ global system-wide sales were $5.5 billion.

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AMEX & WMF

World Monuments Fund (WMF) and American Express have teamed up with the
National Forestry Corporation of Chile (CONAF) to develop a sustainable
visitor reception center on Easter Island in Chile as part of the
Sustainable Tourism Initiative. With construction scheduled to begin
early in 2010, the Centro de Recepción de Visitantes de la Aldea
Ceremonial de Orongo will be funded with the US$200,000 grant from AmEx
& WMF. Severely impacted by increasing numbers of tourists each year,
Orongo has been the focus of an intensive conservation and interpretive
program supported by WMF and American Express since 2001. The visitor
reception center at Orongo integrates the existing facilities: the core
of the new building is the old warden station, and much of the original
structure will be retained, with construction materials to be recycled
and incorporated into the new building, which will be powered by solar
and wind energy.

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ReD Reports Cyber Monday Online Sales Soar 35%

Retail Decisions estimates that U.S. online retail spend reached $2.2 billion on “Cyber Monday,” up 35% year-on-year, but paling in comparison to “Black Friday” online sales that rose 52% to $3.1 billion. Total combined spend for the two days is now estimated at a massive $5.3 billion for a 47% total Y/Y increase, a good indication of consumers’ renewed confidence in the economy. Over $147 million was spent in just one hour between 1 and 2pm. The top 10 performing consumer products online include the TomTom GPS Navigation System; Kodak Digital Camera; Nintendo Wii; Ice Age 3; Sony Digital Camera; Sansui 19″ LCD TV; Sony Bravia LCD TV; Ginii Digital Photo Frame; Playstation 3 120GB; and the Samsung Digital Camera. Among fraudsters, the most popular items included Virtual gift cards and gift cards; Xbox 360; Nintendo Wii; and the “Call of Duty” Xbox game.

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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.

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Credit Card Retreat Promotes Cash is King

Cash is king when it comes to holiday wish lists this year, with 45% disclosing it would be used to contribute to daily expenses, including gas, groceries, and bills. Meanwhile, 52% of expect to send a gift to someone they will not be seeing in person this holiday season, for which 60% think shipping costs are too high; 69% are planning to give the gift of cash; and 79% would prefer to receive a universal branded gift card. Additional items from the Western Union global payments consumer survey show a majority of consumers were planning to skip Black Friday sales, discouraged by the crowds, during which time overall sales were below expectations. In response, Western Union is providing consumers with $50 for a $5 fee when sending the gift of cash through December 26th, offering consumers a convenient holiday shopping experience.

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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.

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U.S. Credit Card Delinquency Surges Higher

One-year after the credit meltdown it appears credit card delinquency
is gaining momentum and setting the stage for record charge-offs for the
first and second quarters of 2010. The two-year old recession is taking
its toll as more Americans are running out of cushion in emergency
savings and home equity. Fitch’s latest “Credit Card Performance
Indexes,” which tracks the performance among most of the U.S. credit
card-backed bonds, shows late payments rising to their highest levels in
five months. Measured by Fitch’s 60+ day delinquency index, late
payments rose 19 basis points to 4.41% following a similar increase last
month. Early stage late payments increased for the month as well, with
30+ day delinquencies rising 21 bps. Late stage delinquencies are now
31% higher than year-earlier levels and just below the record high of
4.45% set this past June. However, Fitch’s “Credit Card Charge-off
Index” declined 66 bps to 10.09% in October, marking the third
consecutive improvement. Despite the improvement, charge-offs remains
55% above year-earlier levels. Fitch says consumer credit quality
remains under significant strain as a result of the persistent weakness
in the labor markets.

ABS 60+ DAY DELINQUENCY
Jan 09: 4.04%
Feb 09: 4.33%
Mar 09: 4.44%
Apr 09: 4.37%
May 09: 4.45%
Jun 09: 4.31%
Jul 09: 4.26%
Aug 09: 4.06%
Sep 09: 4.22%
Oct 09: 4.41%
Source: FitchRatings

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TRIVNET & COMVERSE

Trivnet transaction management platform for delivering secured Mobile
Financial Services (MFS) has increased its footprint in Latin America.
The beginning of a series of deployments, Trivnet has partnered with
Comverse to expand service with Telesur in Suriname to build a complete
Mobile Financial Services Distribution Network. Comverse has already
deployed Trivnet’s platform at Telesur in 2007 to provide airtime
recharge and P2P value transfer service. Trivnet provides a transaction
management platform to deliver a comprehensive suite of secured Mobile
Financial Services , providing Mobile Network Operators with services
that are proven to increase their subscriber base, enhance loyalty and
drive ARPU while Comverse software and systems enable value-added mobile
services.

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Blackhawk Network Drops Visa Gift Card Fees

Gift card provider Blackhawk Network has eliminated fees after purchase
for Visa Gift cards sold through the “Gift Card Mall” and
GiftCardMall.com. Effective immediately, all Visa Gift cards sold at Blackhawk Network’s
Gift Card Mall will not include monthly service fees or charges for lost
or stolen replacement cards. Consumers purchasing gift card products
with the Visa symbol sold through Gift Card Mall will now have even
greater benefits and cost savings by using the no fees after purchase
Visa Gift cards. Gift Card Mall is available to consumers through an exclusive retail
network of leading grocery, mass, convenience, drug and specialty
retailers as well as online at GiftCardMall.com. The network includes
over 350 prepaid cards reaching more than 165 million consumers each week.
“No fee after purchase” began November 30, 2009 and applies to new and
already purchased “The IDEAL Gift” VISA gift cards. See Visa® Gift Cards
Terms and Conditions for foreign transaction fee detail and other
non-fee terms and conditions, which remain in effect. The Ideal Gift
Visa Gift Card is issued by MetaBank pursuant to a license from Visa
U.S.A. Inc.

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SAFESIGN

Thales has introduced its “SafeSign Mobile Authentication” for strong
mobile device authentication for financial services and government. The
Thales solution protects against man-in-the-middle attacks and offers
the user secure banking anywhere, anytime on their own mobile device.
Developed in partnership with Salt Group, “SafeSign Mobile
Authentication” offers a choice of mobile authentication solutions for
secure log on, transaction signing and payment authorization on either
an SMS or Java-based platform. Mobile authentication represents a more
cost-effective security solution since there are no distribution costs,
is cheaper and simpler than setting up a public key infrastructure or
providing and managing specialised tokens.

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