SOMETRICS & IJJI.COM

Sometrics has helped online hardcore gaming portal ijji.com increase
offer-based revenue by more than 30% thanks to advertisement
presentation and a 15% increase in the rate of completion. Presenting
users with offers to take specific actions, generating responses for
advertisers (survey, club membership, etc), ijji.com lets gamers play
for free and the publisher generates advertising revenue. ijji.com
partnered with Sometrics to help increase advertisement offers and
complete the actions to earn their currency. Ultimately, the two
companies improved targeting offers based on user demographics to
present offers which to which they’re more likely to respond.

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SECURE ID

Scientists at GE Global Research and SABIC Innovative Plastics have
developed holographic materials for its progressive “Secure ID” card.
Processed in plastic, the security solution is designed for driver’s
licenses/passports; employee badges; credit cards; identity cards for
health insurance and secure access. Using volume holography to store
information in a much higher security format, “Secure ID” technology
stores holograms within the plastic card material itself, making it
virtually impossible for a card to be altered. They are also
injection-moldable for easy shaping and could enable other new
applications in the security and authentication sectors. SABIC
Innovative Plastics and GE Global Research are targeting
commercialization of the new holographic technology by 2012.

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FTI Says Holiday GAFO Sales to be Off by 2%

Global business advisory FTI Consulting has released its “2009 Retail Report”, which forecasts a 2.0% decrease in 2009 holiday season sales. The forecast focuses on General Merchandise, Apparel and Accessories, Furniture and Home Furnishings and Other (GAFO) sales as well as online sales from November 2009 through January 2010. The 2009 projected decrease compares with a decrease of 4.5% experienced in the 2008 season. In determining the 2009 holiday forecast, FTI’s 2009 Retail Report reveals that while current conditions and consumer expectations have improved compared to last autumn, the U.S. retail sector continues to experience monthly sales declines on a year-over-year (YOY) basis in many categories which include: total nominal retail sales (excluding auto) have declined 12 consecutive months on a YOY basis; ighly discretionary categories, such as home furnishings, home improvement, electronics and jewelry, are some of the areas hardest hit, with near double-digit rates of decline or worse (YOY) for long stretches of the past year. In preparation for a potentially weak holiday selling season, FTI has observed that many merchants have ordered conservatively for the 2009 holiday season. This will also be a limiting factor for the season’s prospects due to a heightened risk of stock outs on popular items. The report does suggest one glimmer of hope within the sector: luxury goods. FTI predicts this sector will likely see measurable
improvement compared with last year, due in large part to Wall Street’s comeback and a stronger sense of optimism among the more affluent that will inevitably lead to greater spending. At the same time, many of the “aspiring wealthy” — high income earners but not wealthy yet — are still quite cautious and may be less inclined to resume their old spending habits.

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Asset Acceptance Lands Former Arrow Exec

Debt purchaser Asset Acceptance Capital Corp has hired Mark J. Cavin, previously COO at Arrow Financial Services, as VP/Collections.
Cavin has over 31 years of collection industry experience for major
domestic and international collection portfolios. Most recently, Cavin
served as senior director and chief operating officer at Arrow Financial
Services, LLC at Sallie Mae Co., where he was responsible for the
internal and external servicing operations of the company. Prior to
joining Arrow Financial Services, Cavin was senior manager with Union
Bank of California, where he spearheaded collection and recovery efforts.

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CREDIT AGRICOLE & EQUENS

Credit Agricole and Equens have signed exclusive agreements for possible
alignment of their respective payment platforms. Intending to become a
major payment services provider in Europe, the partnership has a
combined volume of over 15 billion transactions and would be based on a
common vision of strategic developments in the European card and payment
processing sector. Additionally, the partnership would be a major
regional payment service provider leader in combining volumes and
developing synergies to lower unit processing costs, fostering growth
dynamics from a unique position as a European leader offering technical
and commercial expertise and broad regional coverage, and sharing
expertise that benefits the entire product chain.

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WU Survey Reveals Black Friday is a Non-Event

A survey by Western Union reveals that 65% of Americans will skip the “Black Friday” shopping ritual. Those polled cited crowded stores as a major reason. The survey also found that 51% of Americans said cash is the gift they’d most like to receive this year, with respondents preferring $100 in cash instead of a present or a retail store gift card valued at the same amount. The preference for cash gifts also reflects the intention of gift givers, with nearly 69% planning to give cash, a check, or a gift card this holiday season.
To facilitate hassle-free gift giving this holiday season, Western Union is offering gift givers “$50 for $5,” its new U.S. holiday promotion. Through December 26, 2009 consumers can send up to $50 to loved ones in the U.S. for a $5 fee. In addition to “$50 for $5,” Western Union also is offering consumers the ability to send cash on a Western Union branded prepaid gift card.

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FRB Goes Out on a Limb with Instant Credit Rules

The National Retail Federation has asked the Federal Reserve to reconsider proposed new rules that threaten retailers’ ability to offer customers instant credit. NRF believes that the proposed regulations go beyond what was required under the legislation, and asked the Fed to accept the use of credit scores as an acceptable means of considering a customer’s ability to pay. Retailers currently use computerized systems that rely on a customer’s credit score and other credit-related information to assess individuals’ payment history on existing and/or previous credit and provide a yes-or-no decision within a manner of seconds. But the Credit CARD Act would bar credit from being granted unless the issuer “considers the ability of the customer” to pay under the terms of the account. The Fed has interpreted that as meaning retailers must review the credit applicant’s income or assets along with their current obligations. Income and asset information is not readily available in a central database, so the Fed proposal would turn “instant” credit into a process that could take days to gather the required information.

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GE Money Ramps Up Renewal Contracts

GE Money, Sales Finance has added a number of new programs and announced renewed or expanded relationships
with many long-term partners, representing more than 30,000 business
locations nationwide. Over the past month, Sales Finance announced new agreements including
Edwin Watts Golf, The Tile Shop, Oreck, 1-800-Mattress and Fender Musical Instruments Corporation.
Extensions have also been completed with a number of partners including:
Husqvarna, Bassett Furniture, KTM Power Sports, Steinhafel’s Furniture, Bernina and Pep Boys. OH-based
GE Money’s Sales Finance unit is a part of General Electric Company’s GE Capital division, which has
extended more than $146 billion of credit to some 50 million consumers
in the U.S. since January 2008.

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Despite Skewing Charge-Offs are Set to Explode

Credit card delinquency soared in October crossing the 7% level for the first time. Based on all the major rating firms, charge-offs will likely hit 13% by mid-summer 2010. According to CardData (www.carddata.com), charge-offs are modeled to exceed 11.5% by year end.
Moody’s latest “Credit Card Index” expects charge-offs to peak at
between 12% and 13% in mid-2010. Moody’s notes that in October the charge-off rate benefited from a large but technically driven improvement in Citibank’s charge-off rate, after a change in its bank policy increased the amount of time between an account holder going bankrupt and the time when the account is deemed to be a charge-off.
The charge-off rate measures those credit card account balances written
off as uncollectible as an annualized percentage of total outstanding
principal balance. But, Moody’s delinquency rate index increased for the third consecutive month in October, with increases driven by the rates for 60-day and 90-day delinquencies. Early-stage delinquencies were essentially unchanged in aggregate from September. The early-stage delinquency rate for the past three months is running 14% higher than levels from the same period last year. Moody’s continues to expect the early-stage delinquency rates to creep higher over the next several months, leading to higher a charge-off rate in the first half of
2010.

CHARGE-OFFS
Jan 09: 6.95%
Feb 09: 7.11%
Mar 09: 8.67%
Apr 09: 8.78%
May 09: 9.51%
Jun 09: 9.71%
Jul 09; 9.59%
Aug 09: 10.49%
Sep 09: 9.39%
Oct 09: 10.27%
Nov 09: 10.83% (projected)
Dec 09: 11.55% (projected)
Source: CardData (www.carddata.com)

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Capital One and Network for Good Team

Capital One and partner Network for Good
is making holiday gift-giving easy with its “No Hassle Giving Site” which allows cardholders to research, select,
and donate to a range of causes. “The No Hassle Giving
Site” offers a comprehensive database of more than 1.8 million verified
U.S. charitable organizations as provided by GuideStar, the leading
source of information on U.S. nonprofit organizations. Cardholders can
search for a cause by topic, charity or zip code and make a donation in
their own name or in the name of someone else. Cardholders can use
accumulated rewards points for the donations, or pay outright, and even
earn rewards points on the transaction. Cardholders can set up online
donations the way they want—one-time only or a recurring donation. Capital One covers the online
transaction costs, ensuring that non-profits receive 100 percent of the
donation. Since its launch one year ago, the No Hassle Giving Site has
generated more than $1 million in charitable gifts from Capital One
cardholders.

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BMO & DINERS

BMO Financial Group is acquiring the “Diners Club” North American franchise from Citigroup. The portfolio will add net receivables of nearly US$1 billion and annual transaction volume of US$7.8 billion, and will double BMO’s overall “Corporate Card” business. The deal gives BMO exclusive rights to issue “Diners Club” cards to corporate and professional clients in the U.S. and Canada. More than 6,000 North American businesses and nearly 250,000 cardholders, use “Diners Club” to manage their “Travel and Entertainment” expenses. In addition, more than 100,000 individuals in Canada and the U.S. carry the “Diners Club Professional Card.” Under the agreement, Citigroup will continue to provide support until the “Diners Club” business is fully integrated within BMO. As part of the acquisition, BMO will retain key resources responsible for product delivery, sales and customer service. Included in the acquisition is the “Club Rewards” program. the deal is expected to close by the end of the first quarter.

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